April 22-28, 2004
By Kristen Fox / SUN Staff Writer
Director of Religious Education Works to Get Children Involved in Parish Life
AFTON –– Anne Briggs has been actively involved in the religious education program at St. John the Evangelist Church in Bainbridge and St. Agnes Mission in Afton for over 40 years. During this time, she has worked zealously to get children excited about religious education and parish life. “It is important for children to know about their religion,” Briggs said. “Our religious education program is one that teaches children about their faith and also one that we hope they look forward to coming to.”
There are approximately 150 children in St. John’s and St. Agnes’ religious education program. Whether they are coming to class to prepare for a sacrament or to explore their religion, Briggs has one purpose in mind. “As Director of Religious Education, I try to get the children interested in their faith,” she said. “I think that the kids get more from class when there is something they get enthusiastic about.” Getting children excited takes finding teachers who share this enthusiasm, added Briggs. “I am fortunate to have dedicated teachers who really get the kids interested in learning. They are a wonderful, faithful group of people,” she said. “The kids sense their enthusiasm about their faith.” Briggs hopes that the children’s excitement for their faith spills over into other facets of parish life.
“We want the children to come to class and learn about their faith,” she said. “We also hope they are active in other parts of parish life. Youth should get involved in their church communities, be it as lectors, altar servers or teachers.” Father Donald Bourgeois, pastor of Blessed Sacrament Church in Johnson City, worked alongside Briggs during his 12 years as pastor of St. John’s and St. Agnes’. “Anne Briggs is the living example of the busy person who always finds the time to do whatever additional things she is asked to do,” said Father Bourgeois. Briggs finds time for her ministry on top of an already full schedule, which includes family life, a job in real estate and her own faith life. “I definitely keep busy,” Briggs laughed. Through her dedication and service, Briggs is an excellent role model to the children she aims to reach. “I am just happy to help in whatever ways that I can,” said Briggs, who has also served as a Eucharistic minister and lector. She doesn’t view her service to St. John’s and St. Agnes’ as work. Rather, she believes it is a way for her to take up Christ’s call to serve others. “Christ wants us to get involved in His church,” she said.
According to Briggs, her ministry as director of religious education serves another purpose –– to help ease the load of pastors who are trying to juggle many responsibilities. “At St. John’s and St. Agnes’, we have one pastor, Father Robert Dwyer, who is divided between two parishes,” Briggs said. “He is very busy. It is extremely important that parishioners become active.” To help ensure a future where the doors of all churches will remain open, Briggs recommends that laity should get involved in parish life in some form. “In order to keeps the doors of our churches open, we have to keep involved,” she said.