In early April, Father Peter Karalus, announced the appointment of Maureen Poulin as director of the Office of Sacramental and Family Life, a newly-created position and department.
"The office serves to support a unified vision of the family as an agent of Christian discipleship within parishes," said Father Karalus, moderator of the curia for the Diocese of Buffalo. He explained that the office will focus on the sacramental preparation for baptism, marriage and RCIA, as well as strengthen and assist in developing ministry in family life formation to those in non-sanctioned unions, crisis and life transition.
Poulin, a native of Massachusetts who spent most of her life in Kansas City, Mo., said the Church prepares people for Communion, baptism and marriage, but doesn't always work with them concerning what happens after that. She hopes the new office fills in the gaps for people between the sacraments. "The focus will become development of parish/vicariate teams to better connect and accompany individuals, couples, families in living their lives as a sacramental people," she said.
According to Dennis Mahaney, director of the Office for Evangelization and Parish Life, Poulin will work closely with parish leaders. "The role of the parish is to support the vitality of the domestic Church," he said. "The role of the diocesan staff is to support the vitality of the parish."
Mahaney explained that the priorities in this position, which falls under the evangelization division, are robust marriage preparation and enrichment, formation of parish leaders, pastoral care and support, and to support and encourage couples and young families.
It is likely that young couples seeking to marry in the Catholic faith will encounter Poulin or the fruits of her labor throughout their marriage years. First, they would plan for the sacrament of marriage through pre-Cana classes and later work with their parish in planning for the baptism of their children. As the years pass, the parish can assist a couple in navigating their most difficult years and possibly foster a desire for parish leaders or formation. The church is also there for pastoral care and to reach out to those in blended families, even working with those who wish to convert to Catholicism.
Poulin has an extensive background which complements her new position. With a bachelor's degree in education and a master's degree in counseling and guidance, she went on to earn an education specialist degree and a degree in theology. Poulin has worked as an elementary school teacher, counselor, special education diagnostician and principal, serving in both public and Catholic schools. Her seven years as a pastoral associate in Kansas City provides her with an understanding of the demands on parish staff and the types of support that could be useful to them.
After relocating to Western New York in 2014 to be closer to her son and his family, Poulin worked in the Catholic Center as associate director in the Department of Lifelong Faith Formation until beginning her new position on April 8.