The classic classroom model for Religious Education Class begins as follows: A brief prayer (Hail Mary or an Our Father) then the catechist often dives into the content given in the textbook and then activities are carried out to help kids apply something that was covered relating it to their real life.

The above description may not be what every catechist does or what all the textbooks suggest, but there does seem to be something true to the above description.  In my years of experience in the classroom there seems to be something lacking in how the faith is systematically and organically taught to students. I find there is a temptation for catechists to read too much from the textbook and talk about what they have just read. Although this does have value, students in the Third Millennium do not learn best through this approach to teaching the Faith.

What is a method that works well for you? Is there anyone reading this that can take one method and use it for just about any situation or age group? I have discovered two methods that accomplish just that: 1) The Ecclesial Method laid out by Msgr. Francis Kelly in his book: “The Mystery We Proclaim”.  It is a five step method: Preparation, Proclamation, Explanation, Application and Celebration. 2) The second method is the one I use consistently which is modeled after the four phases or primary parts of the Mass: Gather, Proclaim, Break and Send. This is the model in the Youth Ministry Organization called LIFE TEEN.  I believe these two methods replicate God’s Pedagogy (they way He has taught us/revealed Himself to us).

The methods mentioned above can be used in a classroom of 2nd graders, a classroom of 10 graders or a presentation to adults. Provided there is approximately 60 minutes to cover a given topic these two methods accomplish just about every possible topic of the Catholic Faith.

In future posts I will further explain the details of these methods and how they model the divine methodology mentioned in the General Directory for Catechesis and the National Directory for Catechesis.  But in a nuteshell our goal in passing on the faith effectively needs to replicate the way God revealed Himself to us – revelation and response.  God revealed Himself gradually and in stages.  This is what we do from week to week – we reveal a chapter which covers an aspect of the faith and each week we give our students a chance to respond immediately but also encourage them to respond throughout the week and beyond.

What method do you use and find helpful to authentically pass on the Catholic Faith?

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