About Denise Gorss
Denise Gorss is a catechist with 16 years experience, mostly in junior high. She appreciates the gifts of Ignatian spirituality and likes sharing various types of prayer with the young people in her groups. She enjoys seeing the world on pilgrimages and lives in the Chicago area, where she works as Web Editor at Loyola Press.

The Catechist as a Personal Trainer for Prayer Life

“Central aspects of the formation of children are training in prayer and introduction to Sacred Scripture” (General Directory for Catechesis 178). Today let’s focus on the training in prayer part of that. Training indeed is key, but how do we understand that? Think of a personal trainer: when we need to get in shape or need new motivation to stay in shape, we might hire a trainer to teach us the basics of fitness and […]

Take Time to Celebrate

At the end of the religious education year, there’s often a flurry of activity—final preparations for First Communion and Confirmation, May Crowning, early start on registrations for next year, and catechist recruitment before summer break. But it’s important that we take time to celebrate the year completed and savor its graces. Our parish did that in a tangible way with a special dinner for catechists and others who make religious education possible: crossing guards, aides, […]

Praying the Daily Examen

Becky Eldredge, author of Busy Lives & Restless Souls, loves praying the Examen, a method of prayer that involves reflection on the past 24 hours of your life. She explains the steps of this defining Ignatian prayer in the below video. Pray this way with young people using Finding God Grades 7 and 8. The Examen is also a great prayer for families, as Eric Gurash explains in his article Where Have You Been, Lord? […]

Praying the Scriptures with Lectio Divina

Lectio divina is an ancient method of praying the Scriptures. The name means “sacred reading,” and the prayer invites slow reading and praying with a Scripture passage. In the video below, Becky Eldredge, a spiritual director and author of Busy Lives & Restless Souls, explains lectio divina. Suggested Uses for the Video Use this video in your catechetical classroom with older students to introduce this prayer form. Then lead an experience of lectio divina with […]

Condensed Easter Lesson

The downside of having a late Easter this year is that we only have one full session after returning from Easter break and before our May Crowning closes the year. This means that I have to condense my Easter Season lessons from two or three to one. Here’s my basic plan. I’ll start by playing a recording of Handel’s “Hallelujah Chorus.” While this song is more often played during Christmastime, the celebratory “Hallelujahs” make it […]

Celebrating Mary

May brings us to a special month to honor the Blessed Virgin Mary. Does your parish host a May Crowning in recognition of her role as Queen of All Saints? Such events are often special memories for Catholics, as author Elizabeth M. Kelly shares in May Crowning: A Reflection on a Marian Celebration. Maybe your school or parish prays a Living Rosary. Read how one parish incorporated lessons on the Rosary and Marian apparitions with a […]

Experiences Teaching Catholic Devotions

During my planning of sessions this year, it occurred to me that young people in our programs never get exposed to the Stations of the Cross or many other traditional Catholic devotions. Even when I include the Stations in my plan, I’m teaching what they are, not leading or praying them with the young people. Maybe I needed to think differently about my approach, so this year I decided to try praying the Stations of […]

Passover Storytelling

In leading a lesson on the Last Supper and the Eucharist, I used most of my usual plan, inspired by Finding God, Grade 7, Chapter 16. And, as usual, I needed to pause in the discussion of the Last Supper to talk about the Passover. Because my group is preparing for Confirmation, three types of young people gather with me each week: those who haven’t been to religious education classes since First Eucharist and First […]

Four Ways to Encourage Silence

The topic of silence has come up a few times in discussions with my seventh graders, and every time it does, the young people make it obvious by their facial expressions and comments that the idea of silence isn’t one they embrace. That’s not surprising, given the fact that they get so few opportunities to practice silence in our contemporary world. But I know that silence can lead to beautiful moments of prayer and can […]

Cricket and Conscience and Conversation

I love when someone answers a question with a wild guess or a funny remark, but then that answer proves right on target. Such was the case in a recent lesson on making moral choices and the Sacrament of Reconciliation. I was explaining that we need to form our consciences to be able to make good moral choices. Since I learned long ago never to take for granted the students’ vocabulary knowledge, I backed up […]

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