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.

A Catechist’s Prayer

September 22, 2015 Denise Gorss 0

Dear Lord Jesus, You are the model teacher. Let me look to you as an example and come to you for comfort on the bad days and to share my joy on the good ones. Help me remember that the work of catechesis is not something I do by myself, as I pray: For my catechetical leader, that she have the strength to be an effective leader. May she find the best ways to organize […]

How Saint Joachim and Saint Ann Can Inspire Catechetical Ministers

July 21, 2015 Denise Gorss 1

The upcoming memorial of Saint Joachim and Saint Ann has me thinking about how these saints can inspire catechetical ministers. Tradition tells us that Joachim and Ann were the parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary. As the Saints Kit says, “They must have set the example that Mary followed to become the loving, gentle, faith-filled, courageous woman she was—the perfect woman to bear and raise the Son of God.” Now, none of us is perfect or […]

Not Every Year Will Be Like This One

June 9, 2015 Denise Gorss 0

Another catechetical year has ended, and I have to admit that I am glad this one is over. I had a challenging class this year, and many of my tried-and-true methods didn’t reach this group. There were good moments, but there were more frustrating ones. So today I am writing especially to the first-year catechists: Your year might have been a resounding success or not, but not every year will be like this one. Reflect […]

St. Paul, Conversion, and Mission

May 26, 2015 Denise Gorss 3

As the year winds down, we’re taking a session to talk about St. Paul and his conversion and missionary journeys. Our guide is Finding God, Grade 7, Chapter 23, but as usual, I’m using that as a jumping off point rather than following the book’s lesson plan word for word. We are all called to conversion and mission in our ongoing faith journeys, and that’s the point of this lesson (the “big idea” as Joe […]

Pentecost Fire Drill

May 12, 2015 Denise Gorss 0

In one of my first years teaching, I was introducing the story of Pentecost to my group of fourth graders. The book had an illustration of the Feast of Pentecost, with the disciples gathered in a room, tongues of fire over each of their heads. They were facing an open door with looks of shock on their faces. One of the fourth graders asked if this was a picture of the first recorded fire drill. […]

Learning about the Apostles

April 28, 2015 Denise Gorss 4

During the Easter season, I like to spend some time talking with the young people about what happened to the disciples after the Resurrection. We cover the post-Resurrection appearances of Christ, but I also use the time to introduce the stories of the Apostles and where they went after the Ascension and Pentecost. Christ Our Life, Grade 7, Chapter 7 provides a section called “Portraits of the Apostles,” which details this activity, but the information […]

Let’s Make a Deal…and Learn about Making Choices

April 14, 2015 Denise Gorss 2

Group games tend to be a hit with faith formation classes, but we cannot add a game to the lesson plan just to play a game—games should enhance the lesson in some way. That said, there are many great options for student games, many of which are inspired by television game shows. I recently decided to try a game inspired by Let’s Make a Deal with my seventh graders. As in the show, the students—the […]

Learning about the Last Supper

March 24, 2015 Denise Gorss 4

As we approach Holy Week, I like to focus my class on the events we recall on Palm Sunday and during the Triduum. That means that one of the chapters we cover during this time of year is the one on Eucharist and the Last Supper (Finding God, Grade 7, Chapter 16). I’m pleased to report that this was one of the most successful sessions we’ve had this year with good engagement from the young […]

Seven Discoveries I’ve Made in Reevaluating the Year’s Plan

March 10, 2015 Denise Gorss 0

About this time of year, we catechists might be feeling great about how the year is going or frustrated that things aren’t going as expected—probably a mix of both. We find ourselves in the middle of Lent, wondering whether our efforts will bear fruit. This is an excellent time to pause and reevaluate the year’s plan and make adjustments where appropriate. I am in a program that allows the catechists the flexibility to arrange the […]

Lessons in Teaching from Jesus

February 24, 2015 Denise Gorss 6

We’re a little past the halfway point of the year in my parish’s program, and in reviewing the track of lessons, I noticed that I hadn’t yet used any skits this year. Our upcoming lesson on Jesus as Teacher will change that. Session 13 in Finding God, Grade 7, focuses on Jesus the Teacher. The chapter introduces the Sermon on the Mount, particularly the Beatitudes, and Christ’s teachings about the Kingdom of God, with a […]

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