About Joe Paprocki
Joe Paprocki, DMin, is National Consultant for Faith Formation at Loyola Press. He has more than 30 years of experience in ministry and has taught at many different levels. He is the author of numerous books, including the bestseller The Catechist’s Toolbox and Under the Influence of Jesus.

The Kids Can Pray

I think that kids have a natural ability to pray and that they especially like reflective prayer. When Patti (my co-catechist) and I lead the young people in a guided reflection, they become very peaceful and seem to relish the time alone with their thoughts and with God. After one of our reflections, I told the young people that another word for reflective prayer is meditation. They were pretty impressed that they were learning how […]

Traditional Prayers – "Family Heirlooms"

Over the next couple of weeks, I’ll be taking aside each student and checking to see if he or she has taken to heart (memorized) a certain number of traditional Catholic prayers as spelled out by the parish curriculum. Before I do that, however, I plan to explain to the young people the importance and the value of knowing traditional prayers. Kids sometimes think that memorizing is a waste of time. But taking to heart […]

How Do I Get Them to See?

One of the frustrations I experience as a catechist is trying to get the young people to recognize the gravity of the material we are covering. One week, we were learning about the cross of Jesus. What could be more profound? A couple of students had the giggles that night and couldn’t seem to control themselves. I try to handle discipline problems with an even hand and a calm demeanor, but I admit that inside […]

Defining Liturgical Catechesis

I’m participating in a good discussion about liturgical catechesis at www.catechistconnection.net. Here’s my latest comments on liturgical catechesis in response to someone who defines liturgical catechesis the way I would define lectionary catechesis. “I think most people use the term lectionary catechesis to refer to what you’re talking about (lessons that flow from the Sunday Scripture readings). From my experience, liturgical catechesis is any form of catechesis that prepares one to celebrate the liturgy more […]

A Catechist Forum

Be sure to visit Catechist Connection, a forum for catechists by catechists. It is administered by Elizabeth, from Northeastern Illinois, who describes herself in the following way: “I work in a K-5 elementary school part-time as a Media Clerk. I also teach 4th Grade CCD on the side. And yes, for those who are wondering… I’m a cradle Catholic and PROUD to be Catholic!” (go to www.catechistconnection.net).  

Stumbling into the Profound

In catechesis, we are always inches away from profound issues. Recently, I was collecting some confirmation assignments when one of my students told me that she hadn’t finished hers because “it was a bad week.” She wanted to know if it would be OK with the DRE if she turned in her material the following week. I urged her to be sure to do so. Several more times, she mentioned that “it was a bad […]

No Happy Medium

Working with eighth graders, I find that there seems to be no happy medium when it comes to their energy level. I can have them simply read from the text, which gets boring and makes them lethargic, or I can engage them in activities (my preference), which gets them overly excited and creates discipline problems! Sometimes, I feel like my own worst enemy: I get the kids engaged, and then I’m doing all I can […]

Ups and Downs

Some weeks, I feel like being a catechist is the greatest gift on earth and that I have influenced the lives of young people in profoundly significant ways. Other weeks, I feel like I’m completely inadequate and that I’m wasting my breath. Suffice it to say, there are ups and downs to being a catechist. What’s your greatest joy in being a catechist? What is the greatest challenge you face as a catechist?  

Planning and Preparation

When catechists ask me what is the most important advice I can offer to increase their effectiveness, I answer in three words: Plan! Plan! Plan! We tend to think that 95 percent of the task of teaching takes place in the classroom. Not so. As a student teacher back in college, I was taught (and I continue to firmly believe) that planning and preparation make up about 70 percent of the task of teaching. The […]

Where Do They Get This From?

One more thing about the Advent Reconciliation Service from last week. As the service was winding down and most of the kids had gone to confess their sins to the priests, I saw one priest walk over to another priest to confess. I quietly directed a couple of kids to look over to see that priests go to confession too. One girl’s eyes nearly popped out and she whispered to me, “I thought priests are […]

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