The Paulist National Catholic Evangelization Association published a post on their “Reach Out” blog awhile back by Mr. Tom Quinlan.  He lists 20 great ways to be a catechist who evangelizes the faith to their students.  I really enjoyed it and hope you do too.

1.) Pray for your children, your families … and for yourself!  Pray privately and within the liturgical/sacramental life of your parish community.

2.) Provide a gentle, firm, consistent presence.  Be there early to welcome each child by name. Strive to achieve respect prior to seeking to be liked.

3.) Listen to and remember the significant things going on in your children’s lives. (This presumes that an environment is fostered where they will feel comfortable sharing.)

4.) Create a physical setting that is comfortable and conducive to meaningful learning.

5.) Come to the session well-prepared … and thus, more confident and more relaxed.

6.) Find ways to reach out and connect with parents (or guardians).  Parents are much in need of re-evangelization and faith formation today.  Strive to bring the learning home for families to continue together!

7.) Minister in relationship to other catechists.  The personal bonds and creative sharing will be a blessing to you and your ministry…and theirs!

8.) Pray well with the children.  This means:

  • Dedicate sufficient time and quality to the experience
  • Incorporate a liturgical dimension (including ritual action) that fosters a Catholic sensibility in the children and makes Sunday Mass more meaningful
  • Allow them to participate in substantial and creative ways
  • Give them the opportunity to encounter the sacred up close and personal…incorporate a meditative silence, involve special items from their families, etc.

9.) Help them to gain a command of:

  • The Catholic approach to scripture
  • Distinctive elements of Catholic faith (i.e. various prayer traditions, the Pope and apostolic succession, Eucharist and our sacramental system, Mary and the saints, social justice teaching)

10.) Remember that children (and adults) learn more, and more deeply, by doing than by listening…and the most by teaching.  Use this to find creative ways to make the learning deep and lasting.

11.)  Always strive to make connections that show relevance:

  • Between the issues of the day/their lives…and what we believe
  • Between what we believe and how we are called to live …discipleship lifestyle

12.)   Teach Catholic faith fully and faithfully.  And share your faith experience insofar as it can strengthen the process of learning and integration.

13.) See yourself as more than just a medium to Catholic faith. The catechist is an embodiment of Christ and the Church!

14.) Help your learners to experience Catholic faith and community asgood news. We learn more when there is joy and humor, enthusiasm and hope.

15.) Don’t pretend to have all the answers. Be with them on this journey of faith discovery.  Try to find answers from good sources, when possible.  But also help them grow comfortable with the concept of mystery, the unknowable dimension of God.

16.) Utilize a variety of learning modes so as to form the whole person.  Since catechesis is much more than a strictly academic subject, care must be given to create a learning dynamic that attends to intellect, emotion, spirituality and human experience in proper balance.

17.) If there is a parish Catholic school, make creative connections:

  • Catechist to teacher
  • Student to student

18.) Encourage your children to be evangelizers, in their actions and in their words, at home and in the world.

19.)  Be open to the Holy Spirit, both in prayer beforehand and during the session. On occasion the lesson plan will need to be adjusted.

20.) See yourself as a work-in-progress.  Engage in catechist formation that develops your knowledge, your skills and your interior faith life in a way that is integrative.  Seek out opportunities to grow as a person of faith, not just as a catechist. (Remember to log your efforts that can count toward catechist certification, too.)

Tom Quinlan
Director, Religious Education Office
Diocese of Joliet