Another year of faith formation classes has come to an end, and I’ve got a big smile on my face and a few tears in my eyes. This has been my sixth year of teaching third-grade religious education classes at my parish, and as I look back on the year, I know I will happily sign up to teach again next year.
This wasn’t my best year. I missed classes due to illness; I didn’t always prepare as well as I should; and there was at least one child whose name I struggled to remember at the last class. Even though this wasn’t a perfect year, it was still a good year because I knew why I was in the classroom, and I felt that I accomplished my goals. I wanted my students to:
- learn the faith.
- fall in love with our faith.
- see the Church come alive.
- see me as a role model of how to live the faith.
- want to come to class each week.
- feel a sense of community within our class.
- know that God will always love them, no matter what.
- have a personal connection with me.
- recognize the power of prayer.
- develop a passion and hunger for Christ.
- take their passion for God and faith home and share it with their families.
Those were my goals. While they may seem lofty and idealistic, they drove me to enter the classroom each week instead of simply dropping off my own child. These goals encouraged me on the days when I felt overwhelmed, down, and challenged in the classroom. If I achieved any of these goals in at least one child, then I succeeded.
As I look back on the year, I know I met more than a few of them. I saw the children’s hunger to know Christ in their faces. I heard from two parents that their children loved coming to faith formation classes. I felt a personal connection with previous students when I got big hugs from them at the end of the year. I also felt the power of their prayers and my own. Sure, these might be subjective measures, but they reinforce my own feeling of fulfillment as I leave this class behind.
I didn’t meet all of my goals, and that’s OK. I received an even greater gift: I recognized my vocation as a catechist. In the past, I taught faith formation classes because my own children were enrolled. Since I was there anyway with them, I thought I might as well help out and teach. Next year, my children will not be in formation classes with me. I will still show up to teach anyway, because this is my vocation; I am a catechist. This vocation is not about simply conveying the knowledge of faith to my students; it is about being an an evangelizer.
How did your year end as a catechist? How did this year help you understand your vocation as a catechist?