PHOTO: Carol Mulkeen
HIGHLANDS – When religious education classes start at Our Lady of Perpetual Help School Sunday morning, the children and teens will be greeted by volunteer teachers, aides, and the smiling face and bubbly personality of new Director of Religious Education, Carol Mulkeen.
“We have so much going on and so many new offerings for the students, I can’t wait to meet them all,” said the Highlands resident who just took on the part-time job as director last month.
Mulkeen, married, the mother of two sons and a daughter, all grown, comes to her new position well-armed in education and experience. A former resident of Colts Neck, she was a religious education teacher at St. Mary’s Church for 16 years, teaching hundreds of children from first through ninth grades.
She also has an undergraduate degree from Fordham University in cultural anthropology and a master’s in Systematic Theology from Seton Hall University’s Immaculate Conception campus in Darlington.
Since she moved to Highlands, she has been office manager at her brother’s construction company and also part-time caregiver for her dad, who is blind.
In her new position, Carol will oversee the 19 teachers and aides in the program where classes are held Sundays and Mondays for grades one through eight. She has set up the syllabus each teacher will follow and has gathered together the team of volunteer teachers and aides who lead the weekly 75-minute sessions from September through May. She also keeps all the sacramental records on the students, ensures the staff volunteers fulfill all the requirements necessary for their positions, and guides the course of study and makes plans for the sacramental programs in grades two and eight.
As Director, Carol will maintain an office in the school during class time, enabling her to visit with the students or talk with parents.
Personable and quick to share a laugh, Carol said she’s taking on the new position, as well as keeping up with previous obligations because “I want to do something where I can make a difference in a child’s life. I want to be able to say I contributed to their better love and understanding of the Church, I want to explain the beauty of the Church, and I want to encourage them in devotions to Mary,” referring to the Mother of God. Carol has a special devotion to the Mother of God herself and continues to travel to Farmingdale once a week to meet with friends who have been holding special prayer sessions for several years. She has also been a member of Marian Movement for Priests, for 25 years, and organization that devoted time and prayer to saying the Rosary for priests.
With more than 200 youngsters enrolled and ready to start class on Sunday morning, Carol is quick to point out “we still have room for more, and we certainly are happy to greet newcomers for any grade.” Fees for the nine-month program are $145, including all texts and materials needed, with discounts for two and more children in the same family.
“We have a new location, newly decorated classrooms, some new and some returning teachers and aides, and a program that will help guide our young people as they go through life,” the director said, “I’m just so happy to be a part of it and to be able to help in providing a program that will keep them on the right path for life.”