Inspired to Write an Article

I get emails every morning and some speak to me more than others. This past Thursday, I was inspired to write an article.

A common thought about religious education or even about theology is that it is limited to doctrine and dogma, instructing people in what the church believes to be true. If the catechist is talented or well-informed, there may even be information about why the church believes what it does. These are important topics, but religious education – and educators – often neglect the spirituality and mysticism of the church. If you’ve attended the Alpha course, you may remember Nicky Gumbel speaking on the difference between head knowledge and heart knowledge. Both are knowledge, and so belong to the responsibility of religious education to foster and encourage in students of all ages.

Part of our education in faith should be learning to worship, learning to seek God, learning to listen to the various, unusual, and unexpected ways he speaks to us. I use the word ‘speaks’, but God rarely communicates to us verbally – at least, not to me – unless we are reading the bible. Religious education should take the faithful out of the classroom and into the school of life. Heart knowledge is practically impossible to impart through teacher-student methods. It requires experience and so religious education has an obligation to create opportunities for people to experience God. New Age spirituality or spiritual-but-not-religious tends to use the natural world to inspire awe and wonder, and so provide such experiences. Worship music, with all its potential faults, is another route. It’s why many of the most popular Protestant churches have moved closer and closer to Christian music concerts. Music reaches the emotions far easier than even the most impassioned speaker.

Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament and Adoration is the most direct way to have a profound experience of God. It is, however, becoming more and more difficult in our modern culture to participate in Adoration, especially where 24 hour chapels are not available. Eucharistic Adoration goes against everything our busy schedules and hyper-connected jobs ask of us. It’s even difficult to fit it into the trending concepts of self-care and “me-time”. It doesn’t provide instant results. It doesn’t change our lives in a moment. It takes time and repetition to build us up until we are ready for the deeper and truer experiences, like children starting to swim in the shallow end of the pool.

Spending time with God in Adoration develops our relationship with him. If we need to learn to trust him, the best way to do this is to remember that God is a person. Like any of our friends, the more we spend time with them and get to know the, the easier it is to trust them.

Tony Kreucher
Director, Religious Education

As the New School Year Approaches … Time to Prepare for Parish Religious Education and Faith Formation Programs


As we approach the beginning of a new school year, it is also time to prepare for the parish religious education and faith formation programs. I am in the process of updating the parish website with new information on the after-school and sacramental prep programs. Printed copies of registration forms for the after-school religious ed programs are available in the Narthex.

Links to more information and online forms:

In addition to the general religious education form, there will be specific forms for First Communion/First Reconciliation, Confirmation, and for OCIA/RCIA/Becoming Catholic. Parents of 2nd grade children will need the form for First Communion and First Reconciliation; parents of 7th and 8th grade children will need the form for Confirmation. Children should have completed one year of faith formation or religious education before starting the First Communion/First Reconciliation classes. Confirmation classes are a two-year process; families who participated in the first year of Confirmation during 2022-23 will please verify that they are returning for 2023-24 by completing only the Confirmation form.

In order to be sure there are enough materials for all the students, please return the registration form and fee before September 4th. Forms can be returned by email to or mailed to the parish at:

Our Lady of Refuge
3750 Commerce Road
Orchard Lake, MI 48324

Formal classes for all programs will begin in September. Informally, there’s no reason to wait! Please take advantage of the parish subscription to (instructions on how to access content are on our parish website). There are e-books, audio content, and videos on a variety of topics designed for kids, teens, and adults. Watch something together as a family or find answers to your questions about the faith. If you’re not sure where to start, I can make some recommendations. Email me at or call 248-418-7242.

Tony Kreucher
Director, Religious Education

Updated: August 21, 2023

Please Welcome Our New Director of Religious Education

I am Tony Kreucher and I’m so happy to be returning to Our Lady of Refuge Parish. A lot has changed since I was here regularly. That was twenty years ago! I was baptized here as a baby by my great-uncle and I attended the parish school from kindergarten through eighth grade. I also was part of the youth group during high school. I had a dynamic encounter with Jesus when I was 10 years old and once I learned more about what that meant from the priests at Catholic Central High School, I had a desire to make my career about helping others to have their own encounters with Jesus.

Two bible stories show what I think is the pattern for religious education. First, just after Jesus’ resurrection, he appears to two of his followers as they walk along the road. 27 Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them what referred to him in all the scripture… 32 Then they said to each other, “Were not our hearts burning [within us] while he spoke to us on the way and opened the scriptures to us? ” Second, after Pentecost, Philip met an Ethiopian man who was riding in a chariot. 30 Philip ran up and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet and said, “Do you understand what you are reading? ” 31 He replied, “How can I, unless someone instructs me? ” … 35 Then Philip opened his mouth and, beginning with this scripture passage, he proclaimed Jesus to him. Both stories involve personal teaching, using the Old Testament to lead to Jesus, and the celebration of a sacrament. Jesus broke bread with the two disciples and Philip baptized the Ethiopian. So we see a pattern of encounter, scripture, instruction, and sacrament. Today, for those who grow up Catholic, encounters with Jesus take place gradually as they receive the Sacraments, especially the Sacraments of Initiation. For converts the time frame is much shorter, as the RCIA/OCIA process introduces them to the teachings of the Church before they receive the Sacraments of Initiation all at once on the Easter Vigil.

Religious education prepares people to meet Jesus in the Sacraments, but what happens after people have their encounter with Jesus? Often, they are unsure of what comes next. There’s been a dramatic change in their lives but once the experience fades or the newness wears off, they feel lost. Even in the bible, the people who encounter Jesus are filled with questions about what just happened or what it meant. Other times, their life is suddenly so different that those around them are the ones asking all the questions and the person can struggle to find answers. A second role of religious education is to provide answers to the questions people are asking.

I’ve already met some of the great volunteers at the parish who contribute so much time and talent to this ministry. It takes a lot of people to make all our programs run smoothly. I’m excited to work with everyone in the parish who helps to share the truth, beauty, and goodness of the Catholic faith.

Tony Kreucher
Director, Religious Education

Faith Formation – 2022 to 2023 Year End Thoughts

We ended another year of memories made here at Our Lady of Refuge. The students, parents, catechists and Fr. Ron deserve special thanks for the work they did to support the parish’s faith formation on Monday evenings. For the Catechists in all their discussions, prayers and activities they put together in their class. I feel truly blessed to have the opportunity to work with such dedicated and talented people that taught the children to follow Jesus and how to carry on his ministry in the world. Each one of us needs to help each other find the connection on being active in the community to see our role in the body of Christ.

Thank You Catechists and Aides!

  • Madeline Tinskey – 1st grade
  • Janet Boyk – 2nd grade
  • Jan Mittelsteadt – 3rd grade
  • Shannon Najor – Aide – 1st grade
  • John Alban – 4th grade
  • Derek Schraffengerger – 5-6 grade
  • Amy Bachulis – 7-8 grade
  • Volunteers Subs: Sarah Schraffengerger and Stephanie Gordon

Our religious families gathered on the last day in Mary’s Garden to pray the rosary. Some of the Catechists led a decade. As we prayed, a communicant brought a red rose to Mary to put in a vase. The rose is relation to the Blessed Mother who displays such perfect love and fragrance. As we say in the Litany of Loreto, the Blessed Virgin Mary is invoked as the “Mystical Rose.” A rose delights us because of its beauty so we have Jesus and Mary in the Joyous Mysteries. Its thorns are sharp and the pricks make us think of the Sorrowful Mysteries, and its perfume is so sweet that everyone loves it, that the fragrance symbolizes the Glorious Mysteries. We need to remember that through her “yes,” she sealed our salvation. When it comes to discipleship, the Blessed Mother is the example for us to follow. Her only desire is for us to be ever closer to Jesus.

Denette Plant
Director, Religious Education

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