My Top Ten Favorite Lessons: #9

God is my rock - Bible verse rocks

Faith formation is not just about giving intellectual assent to a set of principles and doctrines. It is about placing trust in a relationship. Many of the sessions I have done with young people over the years have focused on the notion of trust—an issue that young people are grappling with as they discern who it is in this world that they can rely on.

Scripture, of course, tells us that God can be trusted, which leads me to one of my favorite lessons and one of my favorite Scripture passages. I have always loved the image of Psalm 18, the Lord is my rock. It just so happens that in the alley behind my home, there is a generous supply of rocks! So, in preparation for this lesson, I went hunting for 15 or so small white rocks to bring to class. The lesson focused on how Adam and Eve chose to place their trust in themselves rather than in God (Finding God, Grade 8, Chapter 3) and how God responded by making a promise to offer Salvation. Ultimately, it is that promise that we are invited to place our trust in, and Jesus Christ, of course, is the fulfillment of that promise. The lesson culminated in the young people taking one of the rocks and prayerfully writing on it the words, “The Lord is my rock” (Psalm 18:2). The young people then took these rocks home with the instructions to place them next to their bed and to awaken each day by placing their trust in God.

Above is a picture from a similar lesson I did in which I focused on Psalm 144: “Blessed be the Lord, my rock.” Here is the outline of my #9 favorite lesson!

The Six Tasks of Catechesis #4: Teaching to Pray, or Praying Our Faith

child praying

The fourth of the Six Tasks of Catechesis is teaching to pray, or in terms of the remembering phrase HELP ME, praying our faith. Read what the bishops say: Conversion to Christ and communion with him lead the faithful to adopt his disposition of prayer and reflection… His prayer was always directed toward his Father. Catechesis […]

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Allow God’s Gaze to Rest on You

eye closeup

Recently I led a half-day retreat for Directors of Religious Education at a nearby parish. These are the men and women who work hard all year through, helping to care for the faith of others. They are nearly always “on duty,” organizing, running, and problem-solving within their parish faith formation programs. The weather had finally, […]

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Kindness Angels

Leah Ramsdell - Kindness Angels

What’s your favorite project to work on with students in your group? We asked this question on our Catholic Faith Formation Facebook page and received a variety of creative ideas. Today we’re highlighting one lesson called “Kindness Angels.” This lesson is ideal for the Advent season as an alternative to the Elf on the Shelf. […]

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Meet the “Worst” Catechist

catechist working with young girl

I love this article that my friend and colleague Denise Gorss brought to my attention. It’s titled “Why I’m the Worst Catechist at My Parish, and Still Signing Up,” and it’s written by catechist Deirdre Mundy. What I love about it is her humility—something that is a great quality for every catechist to have. She […]

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My Top Ten Favorite Lessons: #8


When I was a student teacher back in the day, my cooperating teacher taught me that the goal of an effective teacher is to turn the spotlight away from yourself and onto your students. He emphasized that they were here to perform for you, not you for them! I’ve tried to follow that advice as […]

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The Six Tasks of Catechesis #3: Moral Formation, or Living Out Our Faith

hikers making decision

The third of the Six Tasks of Catechesis is moral formation, or in terms of the remembering phrase HELP ME, living out our faith. Read what the bishops say: Jesus’ moral teaching is an integral part of his message. Catechesis must transmit both the content of Christ’s moral teachings as well as their implications for […]

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Celebrating Catechetical Sunday: How Do You Pray the Faith?

Catechetical Sunday 2016 logo

How do you pray? What is your favorite form of prayer? When was the last time you thought about your personal prayer life and the way you pray in the classroom? The theme for this year’s Catechetical Sunday, which falls on September 18, is “Prayer: The Faith Prayed.” The USCCB Committee on Evangelization and Catechesis […]

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One Parish’s Initiative to Be More Welcoming

Steven Serafin on a theology of welcome

Just over a year ago, Steven Serafin and his pastor were the new people at St. Mary’s Parish in Dover, NJ. This gave them the opportunity to approach faith formation with fresh eyes. As Pastoral Associate and Director of Faith Formation, Steven shared about a parish initiative called the “theology of welcome” in an interview […]

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My Top Ten Favorite Lessons: #7

Joe with kingly props

As a catechist, I rarely met a prop I didn’t like! Teaching sixth grade with its focus on the Old Testament gave me a number of opportunities to bring in a variety of props with which to engage the young people. One of my favorites was a lesson on David, Shepherd and King (Chapter 9 of […]

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