The Spiritual Life of Catechists, Part 6: Participation in the Community

This is the sixth article in a series about the spiritual life of catechists, inspired by the list of characteristics in the National Directory for Catechesis.

people singing at Mass

Catechists and catechetical leaders generally don’t sit in ivory towers reading theology in their spare time (thankfully!) Theirs is a lived faith, and nothing indicates that more than active involvement in the parish community. Their reputation and appearance as a regular part of parish life is proportional to the amount of trust and confidence placed in them by parish leaders and parents.

While participating in committees or serving in other ministries is admirable, busyness is not the same thing as witness. Be choosy about how you give your time, and pick activities that nourish your faith as you serve others and the mission of the Church. The most effective testimony a catechist can give to living faith and commitment to the parish community, however, is active participation in the Mass.

Here are some helpful guidelines:

1. Go to Mass regularly. Celebrate Mass at the parish in which you serve as much as possible. Mass is the most important event in the parish. Honor the families you serve by joining the community’s weekend worship of God.

2. Greet your students and their families. Mass is the public worship of the community, not a private event. The parish comes together in unity of purpose. Don’t use that time to conduct “business” related to class, such as attendance, makeup work, or other issues. Instead, use the time to help students and their families direct their focus on the Mass, especially the Liturgy of the Eucharist.

3. See and be seen. Arrive on time. Don’t sit in the back and run out as soon as Mass ends, even though your football team has just kicked off or your family is anxious to go on that outing. As long as you are at Mass, make it a point to be present for others, not just yourself.

4. Get caught singing and speaking the responses. Be an active example of a fully participating member of the assembly for your family, your students and their parents, and to others. As a catechist you teach by example. Your participation should be both external and internal. For assistance in how to do both well, see my pamphlet How to Get More Out of the Mass.

5. Spread the joy! This is the most important guideline. Let others know by your actions and manner that this is not just about doing your duty. Instead, focus on loving God, loving the people who are present, loving the Word and the Eucharist, and loving the rituals—the smells and bells of Catholic worship. As you go forth, plan to live what you have received.


Read the first five articles in the series:
The Spiritual Life of Catechists, Part 1: Finding and Sharing Love and Joy
The Spiritual Life of Catechists, Part 2: Authenticity of Life
The Spiritual Life of Catechists, Part 3: Personal Prayer
The Spiritual Life of Catechists, Part 4: Dedication to the Evangelizing Mission of the Church
The Spiritual Life of Catechists, Part 5: Missionary Zeal

About Joyce Donahue 42 Articles
Joyce Donahue, MA, MPS, serves as Catechetical Associate in the Diocese of Joliet Religious Education Office. A former parish DRE and liturgy director, she currently volunteers as parish catechist and musician at St. John the Baptist Parish, Joliet, IL. She blogs at Liturgy and Catechesis Shall Kiss and maintains The Liturgical Catechist website.

1 Comment on The Spiritual Life of Catechists, Part 6: Participation in the Community

  1. This is so. I’ve been catechizing for 11 or 12 years. After Mass or KofC breakfast, etc., I meet younger siblings of kids who are or who were in my class, or the parents, or visit with kids I taught years ago. Being around outside of class helps knit the parish together, and also gives some personal connection that can extend way beyond the classroom. This year I was a confirmation sponsor, and Confirmation practice, dinner, and the rite itself was like old home week, since I’d taught a bunch of the kids a couple of years before.

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