“The Holy Spirit will guide you into all truth” (John 16:13). At SJB, there is no better example of the Holy Spirit at work than in the Parish School of Religion (PSR) program led by Christine Kall.
Education and Experience
Multi-talented educator Christine Kall has served as PSR instructor and Director of Religious Education (DRE) for the past seven years. She earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Art from the Columbus College of Art and Design and a Bachelor’s Degree in Education from Cleveland State University. Chris currently teaches art full-time at Villa Angela-Saint Joseph Academy. She is licensed by the Diocese of Cleveland to teach theology for grades K through 8.
PSR in 2020
Sometimes the Holy Spirit moves in strange and mysterious ways. Facing the pandemic restrictions, Chris wasn’t sure about how to proceed with PSR this year. She prayed for guidance, and one night she awoke with a startling idea. “It was as if the Holy Spirit smacked me upside the head,” she laughs. The solution: Why not conduct a safe, family-style PSR? The concept proved to be a resounding success. She finds parents are as interested in relearning their faith as their children. On Monday evenings since September 2020, thirteen families have been socially distancing in their own church pews to participate in lessons about the word of God. Parents and children have the unique opportunity to engage in spiritual development together. The PSR lessons commence with an opening prayer, followed by a spiritually-themed video, a talk by Fr. Matt, and an in-pew family activity, such as a competitive Bible-based word search bingo which correlates with the theme of the evening.
At the same time, second and eighth grade PSR students, who are preparing for Communion and Confirmation, respectively, are safely learning in their own small groups in the Bell Tower. SJB’s PSR program currently serves approximately 80 students from the parish.
Chris credits the success of SJB’s PSR program to her staff of nine teachers and nine teachers’ aides. “I would match them against any teaching staff. Each person plays a different role on our team. They participate in every aspect of the PSR program.”
Future of PSR in December 2020
Unfortunately, with increasing number of COVID cases in late November, PSR education must turn virtual for the month of December. “The staff prepared take-home bags with activities that will correlate with the streamed lessons for the next two weeks,” says Chris. Topics for the next two weeks of PSR classes will focus on the season of Advent and the history of its symbols, as well as Christ’s gift of reconciliation for this holiday season. As an art teacher and religious instructor, Chris recognizes that faith is manifested through visual experiences. She notes, “We try not to make PSR a rote learning program, but rather an interactive experience for children.” After the holiday break, PSR classes are scheduled to resume on January 11, 2021.
Philosophy Toward Religious Education
Regarding the numerous social issues facing families and children today, Chris’ philosophy of religious education is simple: “Follow the Beatitudes!” Chris and her husband Ken, who have been married for 33 years, are the proud parents of five grown sons, and have faithfully served SJB as extraordinary ministers of communion. Their service to the parish exemplifies an attitude of gratitude from which we can all learn, regardless of our age.