“And they devoted themselves to the Apostles teaching, the communal Life, the breaking of the bread and prayers.” ~ Acts 2:42
In the beginning, I presumed as a DRE that the best way for catechists to cover lessons over the course of a year was to have them go in chapter order. The publishers must know and have a reason for the order the chapters are in right? Over the years I’ve rethought this idea and discerned a few things I’d like to share about chapters and what is important to cover during the year.
1. It is important that catechists know what is to be covered each week. A “whatever the Holy Spirit leads me to talk about” is not what is best, although occurring occasionally. It is important as a DRE to set out what your grade level catechists will be cover over the course of the year.
2. I have to get through all the chapters in the book right? More is not better. Our aim as catechists is to lead our students into a greater understanding of the deposit of faith that has been given to us and through a greater understanding of what we believe students are brought into a deeper union, a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ. We should strive to help students encounter Christ, to actually meet Jesus. We know that this does not merely happen by getting all the “information” taught. There needs to be a “dynamism” that both proclaims the truths of the Gospel Message as well as fostering this encounter with Jesus Christ.
3. The Acts 2:42 quote communicates the 4 dimensions of our Faith – the Faith Professed, Celebrated, Lived and Prayed. These four dimensions should not only be covered individually but more importantly they need to be an integrated whole and seen as unifying the Faith to be in harmony and not just merely a bunch of individual truths. I wrote a brief blog post on this a little while back entitled Teaching the 4 Dimensions of the Christian Life. Our Lessons should reflect this reality even when the textbook doesn’t always provide this unity.
4. Classroom Lessons should be uniform. If you have two classes of say 2nd grade it’s important that essentially the same thing is covered and not something drastically different (this week class A talked about the parts of the Mass and class B watched the Br. Francis “Bread of Life” DVD). Both of these are all well and good, however it’s important that a program is able to assign lessons the program will focus on during the course of each year. This does not mean that catechist A has to do the exact same thing as catechist B, however it does mean that they should both meet the same set of objectives or outcomes for that particular lesson.
In Summary, DRE’s will benefit greatly in establishing specific weekly lessons for each grade so parents and catechists know what is expected of them to cover. This helps students both know more about the life of Christ and His Church and most importantly foster a desire in each student to meet Jesus and encounter Him (with all that that entails).