As you and your catechists begin the new learning year, what might you say is the most important thing that you can do to prepare? When I consider that question in light of my own ministry work, I may be tempted to say something about having my materials and my space in order. But when I pause to reflect more deeply, I remember that the most important thing I can do to prepare is pray.
That answer, Pray, can sound clichéd, even among church staff and volunteers. Of course we know to pray! But I have to ask myself, Have I made my prayer, my intimate relationship with God, the most important aspect not just of my work as a DRE or a catechist, but of my life?
Here are some questions you may want to reflect on for yourself and with your catechists as the new school year begins.
- Have I established a regular, daily time to be with God? Even 10 or 15 minutes can be a good start, if the time is intentional.
- What resources might help me to connect with God during my prayer time? Some people find it helpful to read the daily Mass readings. Others rely on daily devotionals, either online or in print.
- Have I made time in my life for spiritual disciplines that feed my soul?
- Do I attend Mass weekly?
- Do I participate in the Sacrament of Reconciliation?
- Do I seek to deepen the development of my faith through spiritual reading or Bible study, or participate in other learning opportunities?
- Do I have a spiritual director or friendships with others who help sustain me in my Christian discipleship?
If we are to teach and guide others in teaching the truths of God’s Word expressed in our Catholic faith, we must experience firsthand that living Word. As St. Paul says in the second letter to the Corinthians:
For it is the God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in clay jars, so that it may be made clear that this extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us. (4:6–7)
Ultimately, it is God’s own Spirit who works through us in our efforts to serve as DREs and catechists. It is easy for us to think that we are the primary builders in our ministry work. We order the supplies, write the lesson plans, and teach the classes. Still, all of this is in vain if it is not the Lord’s hand which has established the foundation.
Chris Sullivan is a writer, speaker, and spiritual director-in-training. Chris works within her own Roman Catholic faith community as well as in interdenominational Christian ministry in the areas of faith formation, training, and emotional and spiritual healing work. Chris lives in the Denver metropolitan area with her husband of 20+ years and their three children.