Qualifications for a DRE

Qualifications for a DRE

A reader writes with the following question:

I have been reading your blog for a while and although I do not post comments, my husband and I very much [appreciate] the Catholic stimulus you provide for us.

So, with that in mind, my questions surround the qualifications for Director of Religious Ed in our parish. Our current DRE is leaving. After much thought and worry about who will be the new person in town, and will they bring true Catholic teachings with them, I had thought to apply. My concern is that I am not qualified.

I have a Bachelors in [another non-theological field from a Catholic college], and I like to think that my husband and I along with our children are involved in our parish.

Can you tell me what has been your experience with the qualifications of a DRE?

Here is what I sent in response. I suppose it would vary from parish to parish and diocese to diocese, but in general, while most parishes would rather have someone who has a degree in religious education or theology or the like, the reality is that it can be hard to find someone with that degree. Thus most dioceses offer some training to new DREs who don’t have the background.

But if you have a good pastor willing to lend his expertise and judgment when necessary, the most important qualifications in my mind are enthusiasm for the faith, a good knowledge of the faith (and not necessarily a degree), and good organizational and interpersonal skills. In fact, I think the latter are overlooked too often, because a DRE spends a lot of time in administrative and managerial work, not necessarily actually teaching classes. One thing that a DRE needs to be able to do is help train the teachers and give them tools and skills to teach effectively.

What other advice would those of you in the know offer?

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  • In my humble opinion a pastor would be smart to avoid anyone who has a degree in religious education like the plague and only consider BAs in Theology if they come from one of a very limited number of Catholic Colleges: Christendom, AM Naples, UDallas, Franciscan, etc.

    Otherwise a love for the faith, and for truth, and for the Church, as well as a willingness to learn and study seem like the only prereqs

  • I learned some years ago a principle I follow: “personnel is policy.” Unfortunately, a lot of folks, not limited to pastors, fail to appreciate this principle.

    A DRE/CRE requires a lot of skills, in management of people, as noted. That is the second essential thing I look for.

    The first, as noted by others, is commitment to the Faith.

    Everything else can be taught. I think it’s important that the DRE knows things about liturgy, RCIA, the celebration of sacraments, as well as what is called “the catechetical method”—but all that can be acquired after you hire the right person.

  • In my parish we have a similar situation.  The DRE decided ro retire and we puplish ads in the paper for a new DRE.  We got 6 applicants for the position, narrowed it down to three, chose an applicant who we thought was the best qualified.  We offered the job and a salary to the person and she told us that she had accepted another job.  A seventh person applied for a position and we offered her a job, but she accepted a job at another parish.  Understandably, both applicants selected jobs closer to home.  Now we have to do it all over again.  We have about a month to find a new DRE.

    In regards to the qualifications of a DRE, we wanted someone with an educational background and experience in the field of RE because we have a large number of children in the program.  Moreover, one of the areas we want to explore is the evangelization of the parents who drop and pick up their kids at RE, but do not attend Mass at all.  80% of the kids we have in the program do not attend Mass at all.  The current DRE has done a great job finding volunteers, however, the need for adult catechesis is serousand is the future of RE.

    If I were the lady from the email, I would look for a large parish that already has a DRE and volunteer some time as an assistant to the DRE in administration.  That way you can add to your resume that you have some experience and references.  Volunteer to coordinate projects such as class Masses, altar server recruiting, parents’ meetings, confirmation retreats, etc.  The more variety, the better.

    As a parochial vicar, I did not have much say in the hiring of the new DRE.  The parish had the selection commity meetings on my day off or on the nights I had my ASL classes.  I did, however, do some research on a couple of references in the applications for the pastor, but for the most part, the current DRE and a selected group of teachers adivised the pastor in the slection process.

    I hope this helps.