Resources for Catechists



A number is years ago I attended a presentation on the General Directory of Catechesis (GDC) by Fr. Alfred McBride.  Here are a few key points regarding important points that are needed in the work of catechesis today.

1. Catechesis needs a greater appreciation of the Catechumenal Process. The GDC encourages the catechumenal model as the ideal model for catechesis.

2. Catechesis must connect Scripture, Tradition and the Magisterium. These three categories go together when teaching the Catholic Faith.

3. Catechesis on Jesus Christ must emphasize both the humanity and divinity of Christ. One aspect cannot be taught at the expense of the other.

4. Catechesis needs to bring forth the realities of grace and sin. Over the last 40 years the reality of sin is too often brushed over and only grace is emphasized.

5. The link between catechesis and liturgy is vital to drawing others into communion with Christ and the Christian life.

6. Catechetical methods need to focus on God’s pedagogy. Too often experience is used at the cost of authentic content. Using experience to draw people into the faith is at the service of what is true. Not truth at the service of experience.

Advertisements

“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?


Divine Mercy Sunday is just around the corner.  What a great way to teach kids about God’s Mercy.  An attribute of God is Mercy.  God thirsts for us tirelessly because He loves and cares for us so much.  His Mercy is great and boundless.  St. Faustina has been such a gift to the Church through her bringing us Jesus’ message of Mercy.  Here are some great resources for kids about the Divine Mercy Chaplet and various crafts from Catholic Icing , Divine Mercy Kids  , and Marians of the Immaculate Conception.


Last week I hosted a number of DRE’s at my parish to discuss how to use technology and media within ones religious education program.  Many of the participants wanted to know where to find resources to use in the classroom and how I go about choosing certain media clips that I found on the internet.  We had some good conversation about using technology in the classroom as a tool.  I stressed that it is only a tool and that the catechist is the linchpin and the heart of transmitting the Gospel.  The textbook, the video, music, art, etc each are tools and instruments but it is the catechist who pulls it all together and helps their students be engaged and drawn to a relationship with God.  Nothing is more important than the catechist — even in the third millennium.

Also, I provided the DRE’s with some resources I’ve used in the classroom: Website Resources for DRE Mtg Feb. 2012.  Some of them are video links and others are good places to go for information on catechesis.  Overall it was a really good meeting and many of the DRE’s were grateful for the discussion on the topic.

Does anyone have some good video clips you use for younger children?  How about other resources that you’ve found helpful?  Please share!


I posted this last year, but I think it’s worthwhile to re-post.  On appleseeds.org I found some great teaching tips by Richard Leblanc, Ph.D. from York University.  Although it is not directly about faith formation I think there are some real gems in what Dr. Leblanc says.

1. GOOD TEACHING is as much about passion as it is about reason. It’s about not only motivating students to learn, but teaching them how to learn, and doing so in a manner that is relevant, meaningful, and memorable. It’s about caring for your craft, having a passion for it, and conveying that passion to everyone, most importantly to your students.

2. GOOD TEACHING is about substance and training students as consumers of knowledge. It’s about doing your best to keep on top of your field, reading sources, inside and outside of your areas of expertise, and being at the leading edge as often as possible. But knowledge is not confined to scholarly journals. Good teaching is also about bridging the gap between theory and practice. It’s about leaving the ivory tower and immersing oneself in the field, talking to, consulting with, and assisting practitioners, and liaising with their communities.

3. GOOD TEACHING is about listening, questioning, being responsive, and remembering that each student and class is different. It’s about eliciting responses and developing the oral communication skills of the quiet students. It’s about pushing students to excel; at the same time, it’s about being human, respecting others, and being professional at all times.

4. GOOD TEACHING is about not always having a fixed agenda and being rigid, but being flexible, fluid, experimenting, and having the confidence to react and adjust to changing circumstances. It’s about getting only 10 percent of what you wanted to do in a class done and still feeling good. It’s about deviating from the course syllabus or lecture schedule easily when there is more and better learning elsewhere. Good teaching is about the creative balance between being an authoritarian dictator on the one hand and a pushover on the other. Good teachers migrate between these poles at all times, depending on the circumstances. They know where they need to be and when.

5. GOOD TEACHING is also about style. Should good teaching be entertaining? You bet! Does this mean that it lacks in substance? Not a chance! Effective teaching is not about being locked with both hands glued to a podium or having your eyes fixated on a slide projector while you drone on. Good teachers work the room and every student in it. They realize that they are conductors and the class is their orchestra. All students play different instruments and at varying proficiencies. A teacher’s job is to develop skills and make these instruments come to life as a coherent whole to make music.

6. GOOD TEACHING is about humor. This is very important. It’s about being self-deprecating and not taking yourself too seriously. It’s often about making innocuous jokes, mostly at your own expense, so that the ice breaks and students learn in a more relaxed atmosphere where you, like them, are human with your own share of faults and shortcomings.

7. GOOD TEACHING is about caring, nurturing, and developing minds and talents. It’s about devoting time, often invisible, to every student. It’s also about the thankless hours of grading, designing or redesigning courses, and preparing materials to further enhance instruction.

8. GOOD TEACHING is supported by strong and visionary leadership, and very tangible instructional support resources, personnel, and funds. Good teaching is continually reinforced by an overarching vision that transcends the entire organization from full professors to part-time instructors and is reflected in what is said, but more importantly by what is done.

9. GOOD TEACHING is about mentoring between senior and junior faculty, teamwork, and being recognized and promoted by one’s peers. Effective teaching should also be rewarded, and poor teaching needs to be remediated through training and development programs.

10. AT THE END OF THE DAY, good teaching is about having fun, experiencing pleasure and intrinsic rewards…like locking eyes with a student in the back row and seeing the synapses and neurons connecting, thoughts being formed, the person becoming better, and a smile cracking across a face as learning all of a sudden happens. It’s about the former student who says your course changed her life. It’s about another telling you that your course was the best one he’s ever taken. Good teachers practice their craft not for the money or because they have to, but because they truly enjoy it and because they want to. Good teachers couldn’t imagine doing anything else.

THE CORE
Association for Experiential Education
Schools & Colleges Professional Group Newsletter
Spring 1999, Vol. 2, # 1 (Electronic Version)
http://www.aee.org/prof&sig/core9921.html

Editor’s note: In 1998, professor Leblanc was awarded the Seymous Schulich Award for Teaching Excellence. His top ten requirements for good teaching was originally published in The Teaching Professor, Vol. 12, # 6, 1998.

What would you say are key teaching requirements?


This past Sunday evening at our S&L meeting with 8th grade Confirmation students we explored the Works of Mercy in a very unique way.  They learned specifically about 3 of the Works of Mercy.  We split 125 teens up into 3 groups where they rotated to 3 different stations.  

Here is a description of each Stations:

Feed the Hungry

Kids came into a room where they were given a colored piece of paper representing the country they were from.  Then they sat together at a table and would be given a certain amount of food based on how much food is available in that country.  The teens were asked a series of questions: 1) Did any of you get to choose what country you were from?  2) Is the population of the world evenly distributed on each continent?  The teens were then shown 1 large pizza which represented all the food in the world.  Africa got 8%, Asia 23% Europe 36%, South America 11% and North America 22%.  Teens quickly realized after we distributed the food by continent how not all the food in the world is distributed equally.  A third question was then posed: What do you notice about the food distribution.  Some examples were: Asia doesn’t have enough for everyone, Europe sure has a lot, North America has a lot also, South America does not have enough to go around.  Then every table was able to share their portion of the food (pizza).  A representative from each table then shared a little about their experience.

Give Drink to the Thirsty

At this station the large group was broken up into 4 smaller groups where each participated in a relay.  Here’s how it went: They went to the first line and took off 1 shoe and sock and then ran to the 2nd line where they had a pick up a 40 pound piece of luggage and carry it about 20 feet to a small water bucket where they had to stick their foot into it and pull out a twizzler (I’d recommend a gummy worms) and then they had a carry the luggage back to the place to they originally picked it up.  Finally they put their sock and shoe back on and tagged the next person in their line.  The 40 pound luggage represented the weight of the water that people have to carry back to their homes (average is about 2 miles).  The twizzlers represented all the kinds of tapeworms that are found in unclean drinking water (resulting in malnutrition, diseases & infections).  Putting their feet in the water shows that the water was not clean but 884 million people in our world do not have access to clean drinking water.    We discussed what we could do to make an impact and live out this work of mercy.  Giving money so a community could get access to clean drinking water, making spiritual sacrifices like taking shorter showers and not wasting water are some examples that we discussed.  

Shelter the Homeless

At this Station we had a woman who was homeless as a teenager.  She’s now 23 and doing alright.  She shared some of her experiences of being homeless.  The teens were mesmerized by what she had to share.  

At each station there was a donation basket where kids donated spare change they brought.  We probably raised between $25 and $35 (I am going to have to get it counted today).  We will donate it to Catholic Charities.

We closed the night by showing a video by Audio Adrenaline called Hands and Feet and had different students read a line from a prayer by St. Faustine about serving others.  It was a great night!!!
What have you done in your ministry to help make the works of mercy more concrete?   


I was reading a great blog post from rciablog.com speaking about how telling the story of salvation has been a common part of passing on the faith. Children from a young age ought to be taught the story (at their age level). Here are some things to keep in mind when telling the story that I found from the website mentioned above:

* The eternal life of the Blessed Trinity – an eternal exchange of love
* The creation of the angels – some chose to rebel
* The creation of humanity out of love to share in God’s own Trinitarian life
* Our temptation by Satin and our fall from grace through Original Sin
* God’s promise of a redeemer and plan of salvation
* God’s gradual gathering of a people (Israel) through successive covenants
* A brief history of Israel
* The promises and prophecies of the prophets
* Mary’s “yes” to angel Gabriel
* The Incarnation – which should be given great emphasis!
* The life of Jesus Christ
* Jesus’ redemptive sacrifice on the cross and resurrection from the dead
* The giving of the Holy Spirit and the birth of the Catholic Church at Pentecost
* The Church as the Family and Kingdom of God – the Body of Christ
* A brief history of the Church – saints are in constant supply
* Today, we are living in the midst of this Story
* The sure promise and hope that Jesus will come again to judge the living and the dead

Granted this is too much for say a 2nd or 3rd grader, but I believe each grade can be taught aspects of this story. Children love stories as do adults. All the more reason to make sure we are tell this story…it is our story and through Baptism we become a part of the story of salvation history.

Now that is Good News!!!

Next Page »