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home : features : people of faith

9/15/2011 10:00:00 AM
CATECHIST PROFILE
Pediatrician prescribes faith for students and self
Lisa Mooney
Lisa Mooney
BY CASEY NORMILE
CORRESPONDENT

For the past four years, Lisa Mooney, 45, has carefully balanced family life and her work as a pediatrician to find time to volunteer as a catechist to fourth-graders at St. Mary's parish in Cooperstown.

Part of her secret, she told The Evangelist, is that she never watches television - but teaching faith formation also goes hand-in-hand with family time.

Each week, Dr. Mooney packs up her supplies and heads to St. Mary's with her three daughters - Molly, Kelly and Reilly - in tow. Before heading to their own religious education classes, the girls help her set up her classroom and prepare for the day's lesson.

"My kids are still in formation, so this started as a way to spend more time with them," Dr. Mooney said. "It was another chance to work with kids and share the faith with them."

Though she had no prior experience teaching, when Dr. Mooney was approached to become a catechist, she decided that if her parish thought she could do it, she had the obligation to share what she knew with the 18 small students.

Besides, she thought, she could become better educated about the faith in the process.

"I wasn't sure I was qualified, but I learned more about the Catechism and the history of the Church by teaching it," said Dr. Mooney. "I'm still nervous on that first day of class every year, but the kids are so willing and ready to learn, they're asking questions and they want to know as much as they can."

Dr. Mooney and her husband, Eric, moved to Cooperstown 14 years ago. She now works part-time as a pediatrician with Bassett Healthcare in Oneonta.

The doctor often finds her two careers intersecting.

"In the classroom, I try to keep things in simple terms, just like I do when I am speaking to a patient as a pediatrician," she said; "and my faith life is seen in my pediatric work when I'm being positive. I try to motivate the children I treat and bring out the best in them and all their gifts. Sometimes, the kids I teach at St. Mary's even come down to see me at my practice."

Juggling responsibilities is worth it, she added.

"It's important to me, I need it and I love to do it. A catechist is someone who loves their Church, loves their faith and loves kids; you need to have that love. I need to share my faith every day - and it helps these kids fall in love with their Church. If you give a little bit of yourself, that's all these kids need."

Related Stories:
• What makes a good catechist?
• Consider audience for adult faith formation





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