Today, I’m featuring William O’Leary as the 5th guest blogger for the 5th Anniversary celebration of my blog, The Catechist’s Journey. William, who lives in Kansas City, Kansas, with his wife and 3 children, blogs at Catechesis in the Third Millennium. William works at the Church of the Ascension in Overland Park as the Director of Religious Formation, a program with approximately 1,000 students. He is a graduate of Franciscan University of Steubenville where he received a BA and MA in Theology with a specialization in Catechetics. Thank you, William, for offering us the following piece!
10 Ways to Grow As a Catechist
by William O’Leary
Joe, thank you for the opportunity to be a guest blogger at Catechist’s Journey. Catechists are so vital to the life of the Church and each faith community. We could not pass on the faith like we do without the faithfulness and generosity of the thousands of catechists we have in this country. Our own growth as catechists is essential in bearing fruit and drawing our students closer to Christ. I recently was reading something St. Bernard said about the need to not merely be a channel of God’s life but a reservoir. A reservoir does not empty out but overflows. It is with this in mind that I would like to share 10 ways to grow and be renewed as a catechist.
10. Subscribe to catechistjourney.com and other catechetical blogs. There are many great catechetical websites that give excellent ideas and stories about what works in the ministry of catechesis.
9. Implement new things…as the saying goes “variety is the spice of life.” It definitely is the key when engaging students. Don’t always open in prayer the same way, do skits, or read from the book, etc. The key is to find different ways to engage your students in the learning process.
8. Get to know your students. It’s been said that they don’t care how much (or what) you know until they know how much you care. There is a lot of truth in that and when they know that you care about them and when you have an awareness of what is going on in their lives they are more receptive to what you are sharing with them and participating.
7. Trust the Holy Spirit. We always have to remember that the Holy Spirit is the interior teacher (catechist). When we allow the Holy Spirit to work in and through us great things happen (seen and unseen).
6. Listen. It is important to listen to the kinds of questions your students are asking. Listening helps you discover how to draw them deeper into what you want to teach them from class to class. Also, listen to others around you, the DRE, fellow catechists, your priest’s homilies and other sources that can assist you in your ministry. Listening can give you good insights.
5. Attend a workshop. Most dioceses offer various workshops for catechists on the theological and practical level to help you become equipped and empowered in your ministry.
4. Talk with veteran catechists. Seek out the wisdom of other catechist who have been at it a while and discover what they do that works. Talking with other catechists also helps you not feel like you’re in it alone and that even the most veteran catechists have tough days.
3. Read. Not only are there great websites/blogs but there are many great books for catechists that help build their skills, grow in their knowledge and love of the faith. I highly recommend just reading a good spiritual book to help you grow and be inspired.
2. Pray. At the heart of being a catechist is to lead students closer to Jesus Christ. It is essential to be rooted in prayer and to grow personally in your own prayer life so that you can help students grow in theirs. Also don’t underestimate the impact of praying for your students.
1. Be a catechist. I think the best way to grow as a catechist is to “be one.” Many catechists have said to me that they learn so much when they have to teach the faith. Growth always happens when one says their “yes” and becomes a catechist.
I hope these 10 ideas will encourage you in your ministry. May your growth bring an abundance of blessings!