Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Meet the Diocese’s New Director of Religious Education

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Suzanne Hammons
Suzanne Hammons is the editor of the Voice of the Southwest and the media coordinator for the Diocese of Gallup. A graduate of Benedictine College in Kansas, she joined the Diocesan staff in 2012.

The Diocese of Gallup is happy to welcome Kathleen Zelasko, our new director of religious education! Zelasko will coordinate outside mission trips to the diocese, oversee catechetical and religious education programs, and help develop youth ministry programs. She spoke with The Voice of the Southwest about her background and her goals for her new position.

Voice of the Southwest: Please tell us about yourself!

Kathleen Zelasko: I am a mother of two, born and raised in Gallup, NM and now back to work in the Diocese. I went to Franciscan University [of Steubenville] and then was a Catholic School teacher for ten years and chose to stay home and take care of my children, and now the diocese has called me back to work.

What brought you to Gallup from Denver?

It’s my hometown! My husband loves it – there’s a good community of young families here and lots of cousins and my family here. We knew we always wanted to come back here and luckily the Lord brought us back earlier than we thought.

And how’d you end up working for the diocese?

Well, Deacon Todd had this job, and Deacon Todd’s wife [Ann] delivered my second child, and so I kind of knew of them and that they were moving. They asked if it would be something I’d be interested in, and it kind of fit the hours that I was looking for, and I’ve never had a desk job so it’s exciting! I get to work with people coming to Gallup and share my excitement for it.

What attracts you to working for the Church?

What I love about it is you come in contact with Catholics all the time – you get to go out and meet them here.

I’m most excited about the Catechesis part of my job, with an education background. I’m still getting used to [coordinating] mission groups – it blows my mind how excited people are to come out and help, but I also want them to be building relationships and not just coming out for “I said I did a mission trip!” I want them to come out and actually build relationships, and have their hearts changed as well as the people here.

Do you have any big goals?

My big thing is with catechesis – get the Directors of Religious Education (DREs) talking, because it’s such a big diocese…and to bring in a lot of resources, especially for the re-ordering of the sacraments. I’m also trained in Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, so I wouldn’t mind bringing that into our diocese also, if we’re able to get enough people trained and materials made.

I’m excited about the mission groups coming out – especially the high school missions – and I want to help it be more of a “come and see” our diocese – come and see the Navajo, Hopi and Zuni cultures instead of “oh I went to this area and helped these people out”. Come and see the way these people actually live. I want groups that will keep coming so that relationships are made.

Now for some fun “getting to know you” questions – do you have a favorite saint?

I love St. Gianna Molla, just because I’m a mother also now. And then of course Our Lady – I taught at Our Lady of Lourdes school [in Denver] for so long.

Do you have a favorite book or author?

My favorite book is Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh. When I was in low times – it reaches everyone. There’s a character in there that can reach everyone. It’s just a beautiful book.

Any hobbies you enjoy in your downtime?

I used to play basketball! I love to coach, too. I’m hoping I’ll be able to coach some teams next year.


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