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.

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 […]

When Things Don’t Go as Planned

February 10, 2015 Denise Gorss 9

Last time I wrote, I shared my plan for a class on Jesus as a child in the Temple, mission, and the Examen. This was not my most successful class. Attendance was lower than usual, which seemed like it might make for a quieter session, but the young people were full of questions that derailed the planned lesson. I firmly believe that young people should be given the opportunity to ask their questions, so I […]

Growing in Wisdom: Discernment for Young People

January 27, 2015 Denise Gorss 2

We know little about the life of Jesus as he grew up, but the one story we have of him as an adolescent can form the basis of a session on family and mission. Using Finding God, Grade 7, Chapter 9, my group will talk about how Jesus grew in age, wisdom, and grace—and what difference it makes to the life of a contemporary junior-high student. We’ll begin by studying the story of the 12-year-old […]

Christmas Project Day

December 23, 2014 Denise Gorss 6

We take the week of Christmas and the following week off from faith formation classes. That means we might have one or two classes during the Christmas season—and those after the world has already moved on past trees and tinsel. How do we teach children the importance of the Christian understanding of Christmas when the timing seems a bit awkward? I try to do so by using the last class before Christmas as a project […]

The Advent Prayer Grab Bag

December 9, 2014 Denise Gorss 6

Traditional Advent activities include Advent wreaths, calendars, and Jesse trees. While these are all great ways to help children celebrate the season, I like using something different: the Advent prayer grab bag. The prayer grab bag takes its inspiration from the popular party game of grab bags. I ask my group if anyone has ever participated in a grab bag and invite someone who has to explain the tradition of bringing one gift to a […]

Being a Disciple Takes Practice

November 25, 2014 Denise Gorss 2

In a recent session, my class talked about being a disciple in the context of Ordinary Time. Since this Church season occupies most of the liturgical year, the discussion centered on how we can follow Jesus in everyday life. We focused on the works of mercy as ways to practice our discipleship. I set the stage by holding up a poster-sized copy of the liturgical calendar and gave a brief introduction to how we mark […]

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