Catechists



I recently gave a catechist retreat/In-Service to a group of catechists at a parish in the Archdiocese.  One of the things I shared with them is the importance of them bringing everything together.  It is not the textbook, the DVD, the music, the pictures or the great use of the powerpoint/smartboard you used that helped make your class a fruitful one.  Although helpful and very important in passing on the faith in a suitable manner to young people in the Third Millennium, nothing replaces the person of the catechist.  The catechist is the person who unites, organizes and links all the great tools available together in order that our Catholic Faith can be made known in the lives of their students.  Our Faith is full of life and has the potential to draw students into the life and mission of the Church.  It is the person of the catechist who is the linchpin, the crux, and central to helping students encounter Christ and the Gospel Message.

The National Directory of Catechesis says: “No number of attractive personal qualities, no amount of skill and training, and no level of scholarship of erudition can replace the power of God’s word communicated through a life lived in the Spirit (pg. 243).” A person who desires to grow in holiness and proclaim in word and deed a life rooted in Christ is irreplaceable in the ministry of Catechesis.

Come Holy Spirit lead us as catechists to radiate you through our teaching, and through our very being!  And students will be saying…Ahh see how they love Jesus…I want that too”.


Monsignor Charles Pope of the Archdiocese of Washington posted a wonderful explanation of the qualities of an evangelist.  I have included most of the post below.  The General Directory for Catechesis and the National Directory for Catechesis are clear about the need to evangelize those we are catechizing.  Here a 7 qualities to consider:

At that time the Lord appointed seventy-two others whom he sent ahead of him in pairs to every town and place he intended to visit.  (Luke 10:1).

Now these lead teams, these evangelizers,  received seven basic instructions from the Lord on how to effectively evangelize. These seven basic habits are also for us who have receive the mandate to evangelize (cf Matt 28: 19). Let’s look at them briefly:

1. Supplication – Jesus said, The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few; so ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest. Hence before any effective evangelizing takes place there must be prayer. In my own parish we are preparing to go out two by two in the Fall. Prior to this we have prayed for over a year, holding Eucharistic holy hours, praying at Mass and Bible study for a fruitful team of laborers sent, not by man, but by God. On Pentecost Sunday 50 people signed up to walk door to door. They are the fruit of prayer. So step one for effective evangelization is to have a praying community asking for laborers. When we go door to door fifty others have signed up to stay in Church and pray as we walk. Habit one: Pray!

2: Sobriety. The Lord tells them Go on your way; behold, I am sending you like lambs among wolves (Luke 10:3) We do have to be sober about the fact that we are in world that is both critical of and hostile to our faith. We are bound to experience persecution, ridicule, anger, being ignored,  misunderstanding, misinterpretation, misrepresentations and just plain missiles. That we experience the world’s hatred or anger does not mean we have done anything wrong. The Lord was clear that the hatred of the world was a sign of true discipleship: If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. Remember the words I spoke to you: ‘No servant is greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. (John 15:18-20). Too many Christians today want the world to like them and think that holiness is about winning a popularity contest and being nice. Well the fact is that Jesus did not end up on the cross by winning a popularity contest and just being nice. He had enemies and so do we. We are not to hate them. We are to love them but we have to be sober about accepting some degree of hatred from the world. And to those who have won the popularity contest and have no enemies Jesus warns: Woe to you when all men speak well of you,  for that is how their fathers treated the false prophets (Luke 6:26). The true disciple and true evangelizer will experience some degree of hatred, anger and scorn. We must be sober about this. We do not look for a fight, but hatred will come. An old spiritual says, “I been ‘buked and I been scorned. I been talked ’bout sures yo’ born…..” Habit 2 is sobriety

3. Simplicity – The Lord tells us to travel light: Carry no money bag, no sack, no sandals; and greet no one along the way (Lk 10:4) We are to bring nothing along that will weigh us down or hinder our task. The fact is we all have a lot of baggage in this life that hinders us from the more important work of Evangelizing our family and others. Too many parents barely know their kids because they work long hours at jobs to pay for a life style that is too expensive. On top of this we add endless projects and pursuits that keep us running all over God’s green acre. Perhaps good in themselves, they become too much of a good thing and we end up barely knowing the first people we are to evangelize, our children. The Lord says, lighten up, less, is more, simplify and do with less. Do what is more important first: God, family, parish and community. Learn to prioritize and say “no” when necessary. Bottom line is that we have too much baggage, too many distractions and the Gospel goes unlived and unpreached. The unusual instruction “Greet no one along the way” means that we ought not allow any relationship to hinder us either. There are folks who can sidetrack us hinder our progress and we ought to limit such contacts charitably.

4.  Serenity – The Lord says, Into whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace to this household’ (Luke 10: 5) Though the world may be hostile at times, the Lord tells us, upon entering into any place to say “Peace to the his household.” We do not go forth with hostility but with a serene joy and love. We must love those to whom we announce the Gospel. We are to radiate a serene confidence, joy and peace. We are not picking a fight or trying to win an argument. If we need to clarify a misunderstanding someone has we ought to do so peacefully and with serene confidence.  Because we are confident in the truth we are serene in it. Shalom, peace is at our core, not hostility or aggressiveness.

5.  Stability– The Lord instructs us Stay in the same house…..Do not move about from one house to another. (Luke 10:7) Thus the Lord tells us to find our place and stay there. In the end, the best evangelization takes place where there are deeper relationships. But deep relationships cannot exist when we are running all over the place and relating to others only superficially. We ought to stay put more with family, parish and community and have deep roots. Too many people barely know their own family. No wonder the faith is not passed on in the diffuse, rushed and sporadic climate of the family. Find home and stay there routinely. Build deep relationships.

6. Sensitivity – the Lord says Eat and drink what is offered to you,…..cure the sick in it and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God is at hand for you.’ In other words the Lord counsels simple human kindness where we do not criticize about unnecessary things like the quality of food, or matters of preference. Further he counsels that we have a charge to bring healing and help to others. We may cure the sick by physical cures but the kind of healing necessary is often more emotional and spiritual. We ought to manifest care for others. Even the simple act of listening to someone can bring great healing. Without simple human kindness, declaring that the Kingdom of God is at hand can not only be empty but it can make the kingdom seem odious. The say to others that the Kingdom of God is at hand means that they can start living a whole new life. We ought then to manifest kindness, bring forth cures by helping people find wholeness and healing from the many blows this world inflicts. The Kingdom of God is not only about doctrine, it is about healing, holiness, and the wholeness that comes from both as well as from true doctrine.

7. Soulful Joy– The disciples returned with great joy and the Lord celebrates with them and helps to deepen their joy. There is nothing worse than a sour-faced saint or a bored believer. In the end, the greatest evangelization is to manifest a joy at what God is doing in our lives. This joy is not a sentimental emotional joy necessarily but a deeper serene joy rooted in confidence, hope and love. Do people see you in this way? If they do the ground is fertile for evangelization. St. Peter says, Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have (1 Peter 3:15). Now of course giving an answer presupposes that someone notices the hope and joy in us and noticing this they ask. Does anyone notice this about you?


Is your catechesis evangelistic?  What does that even mean?  Well, it means a lot of things, but most importantly it means being a person to brings the light, joy, life and love of Jesus to others.  The heart of our catechesis to children, youth and adults must be evangelistic or it is not authentically Catholic/Christian.

How do I shine Jesus in my catechesis?  How do others encounter Jesus through my classes, presentations or by encountering me?  These are questions worth thinking about.  I found a compelling video clip by Fr. Robert Barron about Evangelization.  It’s a little academic, but it’s really good.  Take a couple minutes and check it out.


saint paulThe New Evangelization is one of the key focuses of the Church in the Third Millennium. It is an exciting time to be a part of the Church and see all the great works of the Lord that are happening, especially with the emphasis on the New Evangelization and all that it entails. When you hear the word “old” it gets little attention, but in reality I wonder if the core of the New Evangelization is old.  The Apostles and their successors in the first few centuries after Christ were evangelizers “par excellence”!  St. Peter and St. Paul, St. Thomas, St. Andrew, St. John and all the apostles set the world ablaze by proclaiming and making manifest the Good News of Jesus Christ.  Their successors – people like St. Polycarp and St. Ignatius of Antioch witnessed to the life, death and resurrection of Christ with their very lives.  People saw with their very eyes the conviction they had admits the threat of death.  This proclamation that was not mere lip service but also lived out even at the cost of their own lives was key to the evangelization of the people of their day.

Today, the New Evangelization must rely on that “Old Evangelization” in order to draw hearts to Christ.  As you may know, St. Francis never said: “Preach the Gospel always use words is necessary”.   But he did testify not only with his life but with the constant proclamation of the Good News to Christ to every town and place he went (and even to the birds).

2 Things to share with students about evangelization:

1) They are called by their Baptism to share the Good News of Jesus Christ; to tell others about who God is and what His plan for us is.  Kids evangelize most successfully often times and we need to give them the tools to do this.

2)  Help children see that ones actions speak something about what she/he believes.  Do you choose the sports game over Mass, do you say no to watching TV because you have not prayed; do you avoid talking negatively about others because that is not loving your neighbor, etc.

 

What are ways you help your students to evangelize?


St. Peters BThis time of year marks the half-way point (more or less) of the year in religious education.  I want to share a few things that DRE’s and especially catechists might consider half-way through the year.

1) Do you believe the way you’ve catechized has helped your students actually grow in their relationship with Christ? Consider why you would say yes or no.

2) How have you helped your students experience being a community?  Is your class more bonded and interactive now than they were during the first month?

3) Do you believe your students know more about their faith? Is there anything you’ve done so far to measure (as imperfect as it is) what they know or don’t know?

4) How are your students sharing their faith with others outside the classroom?  Are you finding that they are applying what they are learning and experiences in the class to what they do outside the class?

5) What have you done as a catechist to grow in your faith this year as you seek to pass it onto the students you catechize?


catechesis of childrenI had the privilege to be a lecturer for adults in the Maryvale Certification in Catechesis program at the Maryvale Center in Kansas City.  My topic was Catechetical Methodology.  Before discussing methodology I covered the things that must be included in our catechesis.

Divine Revelation is given to mankind through Sacred Scripture and Apostolic Tradition and is celebrated within the Liturgical Life of the Church.

Catechesis therefore must be…

1. Scriptural

2. Doctrinal

3. Liturgical

Each of these components is essential if our catechesis is to be systematic and organic.  We always want to present the faith as a unified whole.  St. Thomas Aquines said The Catholic Faith “is one thing”.  It is not merely a whole bunch of teachings, rules or regulations, but it is one.  When we catechize with this in mind we will help others see that the faith is a unified whole rather than seperate topics all under the umbrella of Catholicism.

Scriptural

Catechism Paragraph 102 says: “Through all the words of Sacred Scripture, God speaks only one single Word, his one Utterance in whom he expresses himself completely:

You recall that one and the same Word of God extends throughout Scripture, that it is one and the same Utterance that resounds in the mouths of all the sacred writers, since he who was in the beginning God with God has no need of separate syllables; for he is not subject to time.”

The Scriptures reveal God’s plan of salvation through history.  Jesus is the interpretive key to the whole Bible (everything in the Old Testament points to Him and everything in the New Testament is referenced to Him).

Our Catechesis must be grounded in Sacred Scripture.  Scripture should be a “driving force” in your adult presentation, retreat, RCIA, evangelization efforts and in the classroom with kids and teens.  The more a disciple of Christ is “soaked” in the Scriptures the more efficacious is his catechesis.

Doctrinal 

Doctrine means “teaching”.  In the Catechism paragraph 89 it speaks about Dogma’s being “lights along the path of faith”.  Dogma’s are doctrines formally defined.

The Teachings of Christ and His Church are rooted in Scripture and passed on through the Apostles and their successors.  Doctrine is not dry and static but it is God’s revelation and leads others to a greater understanding in what we as Catholic believe.  There are for key foundations of our Faith: The “Faith Professed” (as expressed in the Creed), the “Faith Celebrated” in the liturgy and Sacraments, the “Faith Lived” in and through the Commandments and the “Faith Prayed”, as seen in the prayer that Summarizes the Gospel Message (the Our Father).

The 4 foundational truths that need to be not only included in our catechesis but should also be integrated in order to show that the faith is organic and unified.  In addition there are the hierarchy of truths that need to be considered in our catechesis: The Holy Trinity, first and foremost, being the central mystery of our Faith.  Also, the Incarnation, the Paschal Mystery, the dignity of the human person and the Church.  These are considered the “Golden Threads” which are seen on every page of the Catechism.  Catechesis to truly “echo” the Faith must include the foundational truths and interrelate the golden threads.

One thing we often forget is that teaching about doctrine assumes that we are catechizing with the awareness of 1) The primacy of grace (God’s initiative is always first), 2) The Faith is attractive and beautiful.  And how what we believe is 3) personal – Christ’s message to us is a personal invitation and a personal encounter. When we pass on the faith with these three things in mind we help others discover the beauty of our Catholic Faith and its treasures.

Liturgical

Liturgy is “the participation of the people of God in “the work of God” (CCC 1069). Our Catechesis should help people participate in the work of God in the present moment (during our catechesis) and lead them to the communal Eucharistic Liturgy at Mass.

Why?  I can’t say it any better than the Catechism

“The liturgy is the summit toward which the activity of the Church is directed; it is also the font from which all her power flows.”13 It is therefore the privileged place for catechizing the People of God. “Catechesis is intrinsically linked with the whole of liturgical and sacramental activity, for it is in the sacraments, especially in the Eucharist, that Christ Jesus works in fullness for the transformation of men.”14  (CCC 1074)

Since it is the summit toward which the activity of the Church is directed we would be remiss in not seeking to draw those we catechize more deeply into the life of the liturgy which includes their participation in the Sacraments – most especially Reconciliation and Eucharist.

When our catechesis is scriptural, doctrinal and liturgical the faith is authentically being handed on with the mind and the heart of Christ and His Church.  What a privilege it is to hand on the faith, whole and entire, with the assistance and guidance of the Holy Spirit.

How is your catechesis scriptural, doctrinal and liturgical?


The Church has called for a “New Evangelization” to meet the situation in which many who would describe Catechism of the Catholic church picthemselves as Catholics have moved away from the practice of their faith. The Catechism was written precisely to help those who transmit the faith of the Church to address this situation. It is enormously important that the Catechism shows us how we can announce the kerygma in and through our presentation of each aspect of the faith. This means that when we catechize, we can reach out to those who are already committed and need a catechesis for the deepening of their faith, and at the same time make a proclamation of the essentials of the faith so that those who need to receive the more basic message with its call to conversion also benefit from our teaching. Whatever a person’s situation, and however far a person is from the full practice of the faith, he or she will be able to hear the core message of the Good News and can, with the help of the Holy Spirit, make a response to this call that comes through us from the unfathomable love of God made flesh in the divine Son.

~ Dr. Petroc Willey


girl pointingI had the wonderful opportunity the last 5 days to attend the St. John Bosco Catechetical Conference at Franciscan University in Steubenville, OH.  There were many blessings and a lot I want to share in future posts about catechesis today in the Church.  Today, I want to share with you a very inspiring story told by a Salesian of Don Bosco who spoke at the conference, Fr. Louis Molinelli, SDB.  He shared the following:

One day I had a meeting with other presidents of schools and had to go to a place I had not been to before.  After driving around for what felt like ages I found a building that I thought was the place (not realizing there were two Sacred Heart Schools).  As I went into the school I saw loads of children and had no idea where to go.  A young girl about 5 years old came up to me and said, hello, can I help you?  I said, yes you can; would you please take me to the one in charge?  The girl said, yes, come with me and she took my hand and lead me down a long hallway past many classrooms until finally we entered a room where she pointed to the front and said their, He’s in charge: she was pointing to Jesus in the tabernacle.

This is a touching story which drew my thoughts to how important it is to point to Jesus in our catechesis and lead others to Him.  Not only are we showing them the one who is in charge but we are helping others grow spiritually.

3 Ways

Here are 3 things to consider in leading others to Jesus Christ:

1. Are you praying each time you prepare to lead catechetical sessions for the Holy Spirit to use you and to speak to the hearts of those you are catechizing?

2. Are you trying to cover the topic at the cost of drawing them into a deeper relationship with Jesus?  Our catechesis can too often be informational without being transformational.

3. Are you helping those you catechize to grow in prayer and helping them be in friendship with God.  Each of us need to use our God given gifts to help others grow in their spiritual lives.

The Big Question

Can you take me to the one in charge?


The Builder and the Rich Man

There was a rich man who hired a builder to build a house and he told him that he would pay him “x” amount of dollars for building him a house and he would like it ready by the time he gets back from his business trip.  The builder agreed and build it in a rather quick manner by taking shortcuts and buying cheap supplies so that he would pocket more money in the end.  He covered up little mistakes through paint and other tricks of the trade.  When the rich man returned and had the builder tell him that everything was ready just as he had requested, the rich man handed the keys and the deed to the house over to the builder as a gift for him and his family.  The builder was shocked to learn that the house which he took all the shortcuts in building was actually built for Him and his family.

Jesus’ Words

Jesus said: “Everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and buffeted the house. But it did not collapse; it had been set solidly on rock. And everyone who listens to these words of mine but does not act on them will be like a fool who built his house on sand. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and buffeted the house. And it collapsed and was completely ruined” (Mt. 7:24-27).

How Will You Build?

What are you building – in your family life, in your workplace and in your community?  How will your foundation hold up through the wind and rain?  I know all too well, how the foundation I build can be made to look fine as I “cover up” the defects I have in my foundation.  The shifting sand always surfaces, sooner or later and my true foundation begins to become clear.  This summer is a good time to reflect and consider doing some refurbishing and reestablishing of what is most important.  Take some time to see what you need to do to continue to build upon a strong foundation.  Evaluate, reflect and pray for the grace to see and repair what God wants.


thinking

My friend Marc Cardaronella over at Evangelizing Catechesis said something recently that I keep reflecting on:

We may not be doing anything for our student’s salvation by merely teaching them the facts of the Faith. If we’re not teaching them in a way that moves them to love God and respond to him in faith, they may not be saved at all.

What have you found fruitful to “move your students to love God and want to respond to Him”?  It would be great to hear what you have found beneficial!

 


Are we focused on training catechists or forming catechists?  The National Directory for Catechesis says:

“Catechesis aims to bring about in the believer an ever more mature faith in Jesus Christ, a deeper knowledge and love of his person and message, and a firm commitment to follow him.” (No. 19A)

I wonder if our training/formation of catechists put a greater emphasis on developing skills but often lack the heart of what catechists need: spiritual formation.

Recently I was listening to a presentation about recruiting, training and forming volunteers.  The presenter, Bill Keimig, made some great points about the need to distinguish between catechist training and catechist formation.  He shared some interesting insights regarding the importance of leading catechists to being spiritually formed, i.e., our spiritual lives.  It is imperative that catechists have a foundation in the spiritual life if they are going to help make saints in the classroom.  Seeking to help students be saints is seeking to bring them to what Bill Keimig calls, “The joy of relationship”.  First and foremost the catechist must have a desire to grow in relationship with Christ.  It is also the aim of the catechist to foster a desire in students for this joy of relationship with God who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit.   The more we focus on it in our own lives the more students and those around us will see Christ working in and through us.  Granted it is the parents primary role to instill this desire in their children, but DRE’s and catechists must also foster this.

Please do not misunderstand, catechist training is very important.  Knowledge of the faith enables us to draw the students into the mystery of Christ and God’s plan of salvation.  Catechists who are seeking to grow in their spiritual lives and seeking to be formed in their spiritual lives are going to succeed more than those who have great skills and tricks of the trade to make their classes fun and interactive.  The more we can engage students the better, however at the heart and center of our mission as catechists is drawing our students into that joy and love of relationship with Christ.

As you prepare to get ready for this upcoming catechetical year year let us together resolve as St. Maria Mazarello did to “make up our minds to become saints”.  Together with God’s grace and life in us we can do great things this year!  May God be with each one of you!

Originally posted on http://www.amazingcatechists.com


31 days to becoming a better religious educatorJared Dees has just written a book entitled: 31 Days to Becoming a Better Religious Educator.  I had the opportunity to review it and enjoyed it very much.  He has been generous and given a glimpse below from his book.  Enjoy!

How and Why We Pray for Our Students

 

Be honest, how often do you pray for your individual students as a religious educator? I don’t mean a general intention like, “Lord, bless my class.” I mean, how often do you offer the specific needs, dreams, and desires of individual students to God during prayer? I know I don’t do this enough, but it is a hugely important practice to incorporate into your daily or weekly prayer life.

 

As religious educators, we’re called not only to be leaders for our students, but more importantly, we’re called to be their servants. One way in which we can serve our students is to pray for them. It is all about the way we think about our role. If we look at ourselves like kings expecting our students to listen and obey our every bidding, then we will fail. Pope Benedict XVI described Jesus’ role as king in this way:

 

“As king he is servant, and as servant of God he is king” (Introduction to Christianity, 220).

 

We’re called to be servants. So even when the kids drive you crazy, remember we’re supposed to pray for everyone, even our enemies. “Love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:45).

 

How to Pray for Our Students

 

So, how should we pray for our students with a servant’s heart? Try the following approaches:

 

1. Pray for students individually. Blessed Teresa of Calcutta said, “Never worry about numbers. Help one person at a time and always start with the person nearest you.” Pray for each student one person at a time. Go deeper into prayer for them. Think quality not quantity.

 

2. Use a seating chart or an attendance sheet. It is hard to naturally remember each student in prayer. Try using a seating chart or attendance sheet and check off the names as you pray.

 

3. Spread students out over a one-week or a one-month period. Pray for them all, but try praying for each person in groups of three or four students at a time and rotate through the list.

 

4. Ask them about their needs. When they offer something during in-class prayer intentions, take note of it. Repeat the prayer in your personal prayer time. Or ask them in a conversation what they have going on in their lives right now. It is a great way to get to know the students better and to know what God can do for them in their lives.

 

5. Get help from the saints. Turn to the saints and Mary to intercede on their behalf. Do you know any patron saints that connect with their needs? Ask for their prayers. By default, turn to Mary, Christ’s first teacher, to intercede on behalf of your students.

 

6. Close with an Our Father. We are united in this prayer as one family. He is the Father for you, me, and all of our students. That is why we pray for each other. We’re in a family together and we need each other’s help.

 

This article is adapted from “Day 13: Pray for Your Students” in 31 Days to Becoming a Better Religious Educator now available at Amazon.com and AveMariaPress.com

 

Jared Dees is the creator of The Religion Teacher, a website sharing practical resources and teaching strategies for religious educators, and the author of 31 Days to Becoming a Better Religious Educator


end of the yearMany programs are finishing up for the year in the next few weeks.  For those who still have a few weeks to go I wanted to share 3 things to consider to make sure you end this year on a high note:

1) Sometimes the catechist can feel discouraged by how distracted the kids seem to be during this time of year.  Keep up the great work and remember God still wants to use you to share the Gospel with your students.  You may be the only one they are hearing the “Good News” from in their lives.

2) Find the opportunities to share your words of wisdom and for your students to see that you love Christ and desire for them to also grow in their relationship with Him.

3) Continue to pray for your students and let them know that you will be keeping them in prayer.  Consider writing each student a note of encouragement that you give out on the last day of class.

 

What are you planning to help encourage and inspire your students as the year concludes?


what is goodMy friend Dr. Farey (head of Catechetical Formation, Course Director B.Div, and Course Director License in Catechetics at the Maryvale Institute in Birmingham, England) has a wonderful quote that is so pertinent to catechesis today:

“How is the heart ever going to know what is good if we don’t use our mind to inform the heart? Don’t let anyone say to you, ‘don’t worry about all that study, all you need is to get your heart united to Christ’. Yes, we need our hearts plunged in Christ… be led by Christ but let your mind be led by Christ through the Church so that your heart can follow what is actually good, and not just what is an awful lot of opinions of what must be good… The Catechism is there to help us.”

I often speak of formation in Christ (not merely information) needing to be at the heart of catechesis.  However, I could not agree more with the importance of assuring that in our catechesis in the Third Millennium needs to incorporate both the heart and the mind when passing on the deposit of faith.

Too often today people struggle to have their hearts follow what is actually good. At the risk of sounding judgemental, it appears that individuals allow the messages and ideas given by society to shape their understanding of life, liberty and even in the pursuit of Jesus.  Teaching the truths of the faith, especially the deposit of faith articulated in the Catechism, will help others see how these truths that are Godly and that are point to the good (which is from God).  Too often our society desires to revise what is good or form ones idea of God based on a more modern application of what is seen as good (because they believe that “they see it more clearly” then what the Bible says or what the Church would say).

catechismThe Catechism is such a gift to help us see the beauty and the unity of the faith articulated and drawing the reader toward the ture and ultimate good – God who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

What do you think about Dr. Farey’s quote? I’d enjoy your insights and thoughts.


What can catechists resolve to do to begin this new year?  Even though it is not a “new year” in terms of programming, it is worth reflecting on what you can do to begin this year, 2013, anew.

Consider the following:

1. Resolve to daily pray for the students in your class and/or in your program.

2. Find ways to improve what you began at the beginning of the year (that could be fostering fellowship among the catechists, helping your students encounter different ways to pray, it could be collaborating more with fellow catechists, or maybe it’s making sure you take that time to prepare well for each class.

3. Resolve to cultivate your class/group of students/adults.  The more others know that you care and want to do your best to meet their needs the more they will feel a part of a faith filled parish community.

4. Take a few moments and recommit to what you began in August/September.  Being a catechist is more than a volunteer position, it is an apostolate where one is called to authentically pass on the Catholic Faith.  What a gift and a responsibility that God has called you to.  Make the second half of the year and the beginning of a new calendar year a blessed one!

What are your plans for the new year?


I was reading an article at the National Catholic Register which discussed keys to leading others to conversion.  We all want to lead others closer to Christ and His Church don’t we?  I know, for me, I desire to share Christ with others and help lead people closer to Him.  Fr. John McCloskey in his book Good News, Bad News: Evangelization, Conversion, and the Crisis of Faith speaks about the importance of personal relationships being at the heart of conversion “a gift of self by the evangelizer”, Father McCloskey says the best approach is a direct one.  Here are the 5 steps he recommends:

1) Ask a friend or family member if he or she has ever considered joining the Catholic Church;

2) Be prepared to answer questions about the faith (which will probably require some study of your own), but be confident that you almost certainly know more than your non-Catholic friend;

3) Engage friends by suggesting good Catholic books and readings (a “Catholic Lifetime Reading Plan” is appended to his book), while sharing the beauty of the liturgy;

4) Know that conversion often takes time and is ultimately God’s work, and

5) Follow up.

In this Year of Faith where so many in our culture have allowed the secular influences to dim their faith, let us seek to reach out and help witness to them the treasure and the blessing of a faith in Christ.


Lisa Mladinich came to the Land of Oz this past Sunday and Monday to share how to not only be an amazing catechist but to help catechists and their students love Christ and His Church more fully and with great joy!  She spoke at two different parishes (mine being one of them) during their catechist in-service to begin the year.  She also spoke at a third parish about how to be an amazing catechist through sacramental preparation.

Her In-Service was broken up into two main parts.  The first 45 minutes was an exciting presentation about numerous aspects of being a faith-filled and empowered catechist.  During the second part of the in-service she was not only very practical but very engaging.  She had 60 catechists on their feet learning about ways to involve their students and engage their minds and hearts.

Lisa’s enthusiasm, excitement about the faith and her experience of engaging students as a catechist herself throughout the years captivated and motivated so many of my catechists.  A number of them came to me afterwards or over the next few days sharing that they really “got a lot” out of the in-service and they hoped to see her again in the future.

 


How do you help others to discern their vocation?  We might think that it’s challenging to find opportunities to talk about one’s vocation, but I would encourage you to reconsider.  Weather you’re in a 3rd grade classroom, in an RCIA session or spending time with teens at a service project you can help those around you consider what God has for them in their lives.  Often the most missed opportunity is to encourage someone to consider the priesthood, religious life or marriage.  Ask them if they have thought about what God is calling them to do with their lives?  Encourage them to really pray about it and to talk with their parents, a priest, a role model in their life about it.  Helping others understand that God is calling them first and foremost to holiness and then more specifically to a vocation of marriage, religious life or holy orders.

God is calling each us us do something and he has great plans for us.  We want to help children, youth and adults be open to what God desires for them and what God is calling them to be.  Last January I posted the following suggestion and wanted to list them again.   Here are some great resources for helping people discern their vocation:

The Archdiocese of Kansas City has 10 suggestions in discerning a vocation.  They also have a good article on 20 signs that someone has a priestly vocati0n that is worth looking at.

Also, here are some great tips using each letter of the alphabet for parents to help foster the idea of vocation in the home and help foster a good foundation so that a person can discern their God given vocation.  Also, go to A Mother’s Rule of Life for some good reflection and input on how to foster your child’s vocation (Catechist can learn from this too).

Here are a few more good general resources:

National Catholic Register article by Matthew Warner: “Teach Your Kids to Help Save the World”

A Mom writes “Why I Encourage My Kids to Consider A Religious Vocation”

The Archdiocese of Boston has a great list of various Vocation Prayers (consider adopting one of them and praying it in your classroom or by giving it to your students.

The USCCB has some good videos.

What resources or tips do you have to recommend about helping others discern their vocation?


Are there any key themes that should be a part of any classroom regardless of the topic of the day?  In 1973, the United States Catholic Conference of Bishops in their document “Basic Teachings For Catholic Religious Education” spoke of three themes which should “carry through all religious education” (pg. 3).  I would like to write more about this in the future but this is definitely a good start of what should be a part of one’s lesson during each class.

1. The Importance of Prayer

“This teaching will take place through experiences of prayer, through the examples of prayer, and through the learning of common prayers(pg. 3).”  Consider focusing on the following:
a. The example of prayer (how do you model prayer and draw your students into prayer as a catechist?)
b. learning common prayers (by memorization)
c. Experiences of prayer (opening and closing each session in prayer, praying with the Scriptures, prayer services, intercessory prayer, etc)

2. Participating in the Liturgy

The Bishops documents states, “Liturgy itself educates.  It teaches, it forms community, it forms the individual.  It makes possible worship of God and a social apostolate to men.  The Mass, the Church’s “great prayer,” is the highest, most noble form of the Church’s liturgy.  Effective instruction will therefore help every Christian participate actively in the Eucharistic celebration of his own witnessing faith community (pg. 4).”   Without  connecting students and adults to the liturgy we will struggle to draw people into participation and the very life of the Church.

3. Familiarity with the Holy Bible

At the heart of passing on the Faith is the use of the Scriptures.  The document goes on to say, “The Word of God is life giving.  It nourishes and inspires strengthens and sustains.  It is the primary source, with Tradition, of the Church teaching.”…The words of St. Paul should describe the Catholic students of religion: “From your infancy you have known the Sacred Scriptures, the sources of the wisdom which, through faith in Jesus Christ, leads to salvation (2 Tim. 3:15) (pg. 4-5).”  Using Scripture in the classroom to allow the students to become familiar with the Bible as well as showing them how God reveals His plan to us cannot be underestimated.

What themes would you add to this list?


“Catechesis aims to bring about in the believer an ever more mature faith in Jesus Christ, a deeper knowledge and love of his person and message, and a firm commitment to follow him.” (National Directory for Catechesis No. 19A)

I remember last year listening to a presentation about recruiting, training and forming volunteers.  The presenter, Bill Keimig, made some great points about the need to distinguish between catechist training and catechist formation.  He shared some interesting insights regarding the importance of leading catechists to being spiritually formed, i.e., our spiritual lives.  It is imperative that catechists have a foundation in the spiritual life if they are going to help make saints in the classroom.  Seeking to help students be saints is seeking to bring them to what Bill Keimig calls, “The joy of relationship”.  First and foremost the catechist must have a desire to grow in relationship with Christ.  It is also the aim of the catechist to foster a desire in students for this joy of relationship with God who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit.   The more we focus on it in our own lives the more students and those around us will see Christ working in and through us.  Granted it is the parents primary role to instill this desire in their children, but DRE’s and catechists must also foster this.

Please do not misunderstand, catechist training is very important.  Knowledge of the faith enables us to draw the students into the mystery of Christ and God’s plan of salvation.  Catechists who are seeking to grow in their spiritual lives and seeking to be formed in their spiritual lives are going to succeed more than those who have great skills and tricks of the trade to make their classes fun and interactive.  The more we can engage students the better, however at the heart and center of our mission as catechists is drawing our students into that joy and love of relationship with Christ.

As we think about what we can do with our catechists this summer to help prepare them for teaching in the Fall.  Let us resolve as St. Maria Mazarello did to “make up our minds to become saints”.  Together with God’s grace and life in us we can do great things!  May God be with each one of you!

What do you do to train and form your volunteers?


No Ordinary Meal

This poster got me reflecting on how we catechize about the Eucharist and invisible things in general.  I think it is very common to want to connect the Eucharist to what we all know – a family meal.  Yes, in a certain sense it is like a family meal because we gather each Sunday to a a community of faith to participate in the Holy Mass.  However, it is much more: It is the Sacrifice of Christ on the Cross being made present.  As I’ve heard it said before “It’s the same old miracle that happens each time Mass is celebrated”.  This heavenly banquet is ever new and ever fresh.  We have the opportunity as Catholics and as catechists to live our earthly lives anticipating the pledge of our future glory (cf. CCC 1402-1405).  This is no ordinary reality happening at each Mass, but we’ve come so accustom to it and live in a culture that seeks to enliven the senses to no end that the divine exchange that occurs is often overlooked or taken for granted.

Catechetical Takaway

I just have one takaway that I’d like to share:

Seek to impress upon those you are catechizing that the God of the universe is constantly seeking to draw our hearts and minds into his reality of holiness and life.  The things of this world- the signs and symbols that this world offers and our Church uses are meant to connect us to what only the eyes of faith can see clearly (Cf. 1 Cor. 13:12).  It is no less real just visible through a different lens.

A Prayer for Faith

Lord Jesus, eternal and infallible Truth, since Thou hast said that Thou art really present in the holy Eucharist, I believe it firmly. Yes, this Host which I see, and which I am to receive, is not bread, but the living Body of Jesus Christ, God and Man: it is the God Whom the Angels adore in heaven; I believe it. I do not understand this Mystery, but I wish to believe it without seeking to penetrate it, that I may have the happiness of seeing and contemplating it one day in heaven. Strengthen it so lively, that I may honour Thee, love Thee, and receive Thee, as if I already beheld Thee.


Over the last two weeks I’ve been collecting evaluations and having meetings about how things went this year.  I praise God for the many blessings from the year – how God worked through the little interactions with families, parents, kids and catechists and how He used teachable moments in the classroom, during our times of music, stations of the cross, reconciliation, etc.  Christ desires to draw us closer to Himself and I am grateful for the opportunity to reflect on the many gifts and blessings (seen and unseen) that occurred this year.

Reflecting and evaluating upon what can be improved in the future is also important.  The landscape of Religious Education is rapidly changing in many respects and if we don’t consider what we need to do to continually help our families and students grow in a way where they will come to know the Gospel more fully in order that their lives can be transformed.  Reaching out to parents and children who are over-scheduled, consumed with noise and distractions limiting their ability to seek God and encounter Him is a constant challenge.

Here are some things I’ve been reflecting upon:

1) How can catechists be trained so that they can seize the opportunities they have to draw students out of their busy world and give them the one thing that satisfies – Jesus Christ?

2) Are the resources we are providing catechists helping them to authentically pass on the faith and engage kids?

3) What tools and resources can be provided so as to help engage children more fully.

4) How can we involve parents more and help them be the primary educators of their children’s faith?  We don’t want to be a program where parents “outsource” faith formation to us.  We want to be a bridge and collaborate with them in order that they may be more empowered to pass on the faith to their children.

How about you?

What have you been reflecting at the end of your religious education year?


Most Religious Education and RCIA programs are coming to an end for the year.  Even though our time commitments may slow down in some respects we live in a busy world where finding time to slow down in challenging.  Many of us, myself included, could not imagine life before cell phones and the internet. Just 10 years ago people where functioning just fine without a cell phone (although they were around and people had them). The Internet was also around, but not as fast and not as many people functioning directly from it regarding their jobs, and personal endeavors.  It is more challenging than ever to find the time to sit down and just read and relax.  It is very important as catechist and as a disciple of Jesus that we take the time to read and grow in our faith.  This not only helps us grow spiritually but also in our knowledge and understanding of our beautiful faith.  I have listed some books worth reading.  It is not an exhaustive list but if you pick one or two of these books to read this summer I think you’ll find the time spend reading them abundantly refreshing and inspiring as you grow in your spiritual life and in your knowledge of the Faith.

Spiritual Life

A Heart Like His: Meditations on the Sacred Heart of Jesus by Fr. Thomas Williams

Introduction to the Devout Life by St. Francis De Sales

Story of a Soul by St. Therese

Time for God by Fr. Jacques Philippe

Prayer Primer by Fr. Thomas Dubay, S.M.                                                                                     

The Way of the Disciple by Erasmo Leiva-Merikakis

Return of the Prodigal Son by Henri Nouwen

Heaven In Our Hands by Fr. Benedict Groeschel

In Conversation with God (7 volume set)  by Fr. Francis Fernandez

Heaven in Our Hands by Fr. Benedict Groeschel, C.F.R.

Appointment with God by Fr. Michael Scanlan

Five Loaves and Two Fish by Cardinal Francis Xavier Nguyen Van Thuan

Prayer For Beginners By Peter Kreeft (I was not a beginner when I read this and found it very helpful and insightful)

He Leadeth Me By Fr. Walter Ciszek, S.J.                                                                                                             

Knowledge and Understanding

The Lord by Fr. Ramano Guardini

To Know Christ Jesus by Frank Sheed

Signs of Life: 40 Catholic Customs and Their Biblical Roots by Dr. Scott Hahn

Swear to God: The Promise and Power of the Sacraments by Dr. Scott Hahn

Heaven, the Heart’s Deepest Longing by Peter Kreeft

Catholic For a Reason (4 volumes)

Back to Virtue by Peter Kreeft

Letters to a Young Catholic by George Weigel (this book is meant for adults)

What books are you hoping to read this summer? I pray you have a blessed summer filled with time to slow down, regroup and grow spiritually!


Are You Intriguing?

Recently I watched a youtube recording of Matthew Kelly’s talk from the L.A. Congress 2012.  His talk was around an hour and in part of it he spoke about how Protestant faiths do a much better job of intriguing people or as I would say – drawing people in to “want more” (more of God) than Catholics do.  Matthew Kelly went on to ask “as Catholics do we intrigue anyone by our faith”?  In order to draw others into the Faith they have to see us live, love and work differently than what they see in the people around them.  Does our Catholic Faith and our life of holiness contribute significantly to making us “look different” in the way we live each day?  Do others experience the love of Christ in our daily actions?  And do we work in a different way than others – not that we have to work longer but do we work harder (not just half-hearted), do we work without complaining?  The more we do this the more we as Catholics will be intriguing to a world hungry for God.

2 questions

1) What are characteristics of an authentic witness of Christian life (these characteristics are what the world finds “intriguing”)?

2) As catechists, how do you empower your students to be “intriguing” or how to you help your students witness their faith?


Upcoming Symposium on the New Evangelization

Recently, the Vatican News Agency reported that the symposium on the New Evangelization will address “the necessity to revisit” those areas of the world “that have been evangelized maybe for 1000 years or 500 years and where the faith was once very strong” but where “now people are rather cold in the faith.”

It will also stress the need for this “new freshness” and “new ardor” to be communicated using new technology.

Cardinal Arinze believes that life in the Western world has “many other offers to the human person” which are “attracting” or even “distracting” people away from Christianity so that “the message of Christ can sometimes be forgotten, given a second place, put as a footnote.”

Eye Opening Quote:

“So someone has to come who has the enthusiasm of an evangelizer, who has the convincing power of a witness who lives with conviction what that witness is preaching” and who is also “ready to use modern methods to contact people.”

What Is Needed?

Three things Cardinal Arinze says are needed: 1) Enthusiasm 2) the convincing power of a witness and 3) one who will use modern methods to engage others and lead them closer to Christ and His Church.

As a catechist and as a lay member of the Body of Christ, I am called, you are called and the faithful are called to have these three qualities in order to bring the Gospel of Jesus Christ to those they encounter in their everyday lives.

Many are confused about why it has to be “new” regarding evangelization.  It goes without saying that the Church as always evangelized and exists in order to evangelize.  However, what is need today is a “new ardor”, “new expressions” and “new methods” of proclaiming the message of Jesus Christ who is “the same yesterday, and today and forever” (Heb. 13:8).

Fleshing It Out

How have you “fleshed out” this new “ardor, expression and methods” of the New Evangelization?  I would be grateful if you took a moment and left a comment.


The Gift of Prayer

Prayer is the life of the soul!  How are we drawing adults, parents, kids and youth into a life of prayer?  The Catechism is rich in what it says about prayer.

In paragraph 2560 it says:

“The wonder of prayer is revealed beside the well where we come seeking water: there Christ comes to meet every human being.  It is he who first seeks us and asks us for a drink.  Jesus thirsts; his asking arises from the depths of God’s desire for us.  Whether we realize it or not, prayer is the encounter of God’s thirst with ours.  God thirsts that we may thirst for him.”

Prayer and Catechesis

In many ministry settings prayer is seen too often as something to get out of the way (an attitude of “I know I should pray so let’s say a quick prayer and get on with the lesson of the day) instead of something that draws people into the mystery of Christ and a greater intimacy with Him.  It is essential in our catechetical settings to create an attitude of prayer that opens hearts.  Helping create an environment that draws souls into that relationship with Jesus is key if we are to lead adults and children into being truly disciples of Christ.

Not only is it important to lead people into prayer, but it will only occur if we ourselves are people of prayer; people who take time to foster a spiritual life and time for mental prayer.  Yes, it is great to pray at all times and make your whole day a prayer, but this is not sufficient.  We must be people who take time away from the busyness of jobs, social media that we are exposed to 24-7 and all our family responsibilities and be silent before God.  Taking time to pray and making prayer it a priority is necessary for our relationship with Christ as well as our success in ministry.  Catechists are then able to better engage and lead others into prayer if they themselves are people of prayer.

Practical Recommendations

I recently read a great article by Marianne Cuthbertson and Dr. Caroline Farey that gives wonderful recommendations for leading others into prayer in our catechetical settings.  Their numerous recommendations are exactly what we need to consider to allow our catechetical session to be times of grace and session soaked in prayer.

How do you help engage others in prayer in your catechetical sessions?  Let us be drawn into and help draw others into the “wonder of prayer”.


Love of Jesus or Knowledge (Church Teaching)?

Is it the love of Jesus that matters most to convey to this generation?  Is it to pass on what the Catechism says so they will “know” their faith?  Those in ministry have clear opinions about these questions.  Sometimes people say the content gets in the way of helping children, youth and adults encounter Jesus and know His love. Others assert “if they only knew the content they would live their faith better”.

Pope Paul VI was the first pope in history to talk about catechesis as being a means to evangelization (Evangelii Nuntiandi #44).  We are familiar to the notion of evangelization preceding catechesis but Paul VI saw catechesis being a means of evangelizing, of proclaiming the Good News of God’s love and abundant life.

As catechists and disciples of Christ our goal should be to bring about both a greater understanding and knowledge of the faith so that a greater love and acceptance of the Good News will be embraced and lived in the lives of those who receive it.  Our catechesis must be evangelistic in nature so that it is not merely “doctrine” that we are passing on but “life changing doctrine”.

Both Are Essential

The answer is both the love of Jesus and the knowledge of God plan of salvation (doctrine) are key to handing on the Faith.  Before Vatican II the emphasis tended to be placed on memorizing the content of the faith at the cost of the proclamation of the Good News of God’s love and Mercy.  After Vatican II the pendulum went the other way and the emphasis was on proclaiming the love of God and his great mercy and minimizing the content and the importance of knowing/learning it.  What we need is to unify the two by understanding that we are catechizing and proclaiming this life changing doctrine so as to draw the learning into a life-giving relationship with Jesus. Blessed John Paul II said it very well in Catechesi Tradendae when he said:

Catechesis aims therefore at developing understanding of the mystery of Christ in the light of God’s word, so that the whole of a person’s humanity is impregnated by that word. Changed by the working of grace into a new creature, the Christian thus sets himself to follow Christ and learns more and more within the Church to think like Him, to judge like Him, to act in conformity with His commandments, and to hope as He invites us to.

To put it more precisely: within the whole process of evangelization, the aim of catechesis is to be the teaching and maturation stage, that is to say, the period in which the Christian, having accepted by faith the person of Jesus Christ as the one Lord and having given Him complete adherence by sincere conversion of heart, endeavors to know better this Jesus to whom he has entrusted himself: to know His “mystery,” the kingdom of God proclaimed by Him, the requirements and promises contained in His Gospel message, and the paths that He has laid down for anyone who wishes to follow Him. (Paragraph 20)

The understanding of doctrine and the goal of bringing about a change (conversion) is the “aim of catechesis”.  Today we need both in order to authentically pass on the deposit of faith and all its riches.

Catechetical Takeaway

A few ideas on how to accomplish this are worth considering.

1) Always open your catechetical sessions in prayer – prayer that helps draw others into the Mystery of Christ.

2) Share the topic of the day with enthusiasm and with conviction.  This will be noticed and those receiving it will be more inclined to be drawn into what you are proclaiming and sharing.

3)  Pray to the Holy Spirit (The Holy Spirit is the interior teacher).  Catechists are the instrument, the conduit, the mouthpiece helping others to know and love Christ.

4) Be faithful to proclaiming the Church’s teachings.  Proclaiming this life changing doctrine will lead others to the love of God and to encounter Him more fully.

How do you see catechesis being a means of evangelization?


Where do we find God in our everyday lives as Catholics?  There are so many examples we could give on where we find God.  Loyola Press is even having a video contest to encourage Catholic Identity and Community building on where we find God in our lives.

The question of where do we find God brings me to an additional question:  What does God reveal about where to find Him?  Here are a few things the Catechism says:

~The world, and man, attest that they contain within themselves neither their first principle nor their final end, but rather that they participate in Being itself, which alone is without origin or end. Thus, in different ways, man can come to know that there exists a reality which is the first cause and final end of all things, a reality “that everyone calls God”.10 ” (CCC #34)

~ “Man’s faculties make him capable of coming to a knowledge of the existence of a personal God. But for man to be able to enter into real intimacy with him, God willed both to reveal himself to man and to give him the grace of being able to welcome this revelation in faith. The proofs of God’s existence, however, can predispose one to faith and help one to see that faith is not opposed to reason.” (CCC #35)

~ “God, who creates and conserves all things by his Word, provides men with constant evidence of himself in created realities”  (CCC #54)

~ “Sacred Scripture and Sacred Scripture make up a single sacred deposit of the Word of God” (DV 10), in which, as in a mirror, the pilgrim Church contemplates God, the source of all her riches.  (CCC #97).

~“Christ Jesus, who died, yes, who was raised from the dead, who is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us,” is present in many ways to his Church:197 in his word, in his Church’s prayer, “where two or three are gathered in my name,”199 in the poor, the sick, and the imprisoned,199 in the sacraments of which he is the author, in the sacrifice of the Mass, and in the person of the minister. But “he is present . . . most especially in the Eucharistic species.” (CCC 1373).   

When we ask our students questions like Where do you find God?, or Where to you experience Jesus in your daily life?, may we always remember that we want to link them back to what God has revealed.  We always want to connect them to some aspect Christian doctrine which is not stale and static but life giving and spirit filled.  God’s revelation and truth set us free (cf. Jn. 8:32) and gives us life (cf. Jn. 10:10).


It’s is midway through the year.  Where does the time go?  I once heard it said that the days go slow but the years go fast.  I now understand this to an even greater degree with a 4,3 and 2 year old.  Time does seem in so many ways to fly by.  I thought halfway through the year it might be helpful to evaluate your ministry by considering the following:

1) How have you connected with your students?

2) Are you successfully getting through each lesson?  How well are your students retaining what you are covering?

3) Do you feel like you are engaging your students?

4) Are you helping your students grow in their friendship/relationship with God?

5) Are you looking to your DRE and veteran catechists for ideas and wisdom?

 

Continue throughout this year in the classroom to be aware of the ways you can assist your students as you proclaim this powerful and exciting “Good News” and  lead them to a more dynamic relationship with Christ!

 

Do you have any other things that would be good to consider when evaluating ones ministry mid-way through the year?


textbooks-imageIn my experience of over 14 years in parish ministry, I find that catechetical textbooks are relied on too much by catechists and as a result limiting their effectiveness in the classroom.  Textbooks can be a valuable resource but they are a tool not the heart of the lesson.  It is the catechist who should use it as a tool.  Since most religious education classes meet for an hour and a half or less it is difficult to cover what the catechist manual recommends. In addition, I find that the concepts in chapters are often too scattered trying to cover too much.

What has your religious education program done in order to help better equip catechists to not only teach the lessons laid out in each chapter, but to help them have clarity and focus in each lesson?

Something I’ve done in in the last two parishes I’ve worked at is to help give catechists a clear focus to their lessons. I use a version of the ecclesial method (you can find it in Msgr. Francis Kelly’s book, The Mystery We Proclaim to help replicate God’s pedagogy – trying to give the students an understanding of what God has revealed and how to respond to it).  I outlined the chapters bringing a more focused understanding of what should be covered (noting the most important points). I also provide ideas and additional activities that support the content that is being covered.

I would love to hear from anyone that is seeking ways to help catechists better use their textbook.

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