About Joyce Donahue
Joyce Donahue, MA, MPS, serves as Catechetical Associate in the Diocese of Joliet Religious Education Office. A former parish DRE and liturgy director, she currently volunteers as parish catechist and musician at St. John the Baptist Parish, Joliet, IL. She blogs at Liturgy and Catechesis Shall Kiss and maintains The Liturgical Catechist website.

The Leader of Prayer: Five Skills for Lay Presiders

This is the fourth article in a series about leading prayer. Have you ever noticed that some priests are really good at presiding over the Mass? When they get everything right, it simply feels good. When done well, the priest “disappears” and he presents himself in persona Christi: acting in the person of Christ, he unites the offerings and prayers of the people to Christ. A good presider is confident, clear, and “leans in” to […]

Waiting and Preparation: Teaching Advent and Christmas

What should Catholic children know about Advent? They should know that it is a season of waiting and preparation, not fulfillment. In contrast to the frenzied Christmas shopping season, the patient waiting that characterizes Advent has its own particular beauty. More than that, it helps us understand something important about Jesus: he is the awaited Savior of the people of God. Use the rich symbols and stories of the season to help children experience Advent […]

Make Your Group Prayer Meaningful

This is the third article in a series about leading prayer. In the previous two installments of this series, I wrote about setting the environment for prayer and best practices for structuring public prayer. But how do you choose the content of prayer so that it is meaningful for participants? Every group has different needs. When prayer is “one size fits all” it can be hard for people to feel it has a meaningful connection […]

Best Practices for Leading Group Prayer

This is the second article in a series about leading prayer. Whenever Catholics pray before group activities—whether a staff, catechist, or parent meeting or a gathering of the parish youth group—we offer all our efforts to the Father. We acknowledge that when we are gathered, Jesus is present with us. We invoke the Holy Spirit to guide us. Group prayers sanctify the activity, reminding us that the ultimate goal is to glorify God. Yet how […]

Can Your Catechists Tell THE Story?

Whenever I serve in my parish as a catechist, I notice something distressing: children generally have little knowledge of Bible stories. Many of them cannot connect the dots from Jesus’ birth in a stable to his Death and Resurrection. Even fewer can connect Adam and Eve to Jesus; only a few have heard of such key ancestors in faith as Abraham, Moses, and David; and almost none of them realize how they personally are connected […]

Setting the Stage: Creating the Space for Prayer

This is the first article in a series about leading prayer. When Catholics pray, we are often surrounded by reminders of who we are. At Mass, we can easily identify the current liturgical season or feast from how the sanctuary is decorated, the color of the priest’s vestments, the hymns we sing, and sometimes from the aroma of incense. We are accompanied in our liturgical prayers by statues of the saints, Scripture stories in stained […]

Forming Children and Youth for the Mass, Part 8: Mission

This is the last article in a series about forming children for active participation in the Mass. The word Mass comes from “missa est” (Latin for “it is sent”). The dismissal formula variations in the Roman Missal are meaningful. “Go forth, the Mass is ended.” “Go in peace.” “Go and announce the Gospel of the Lord.” “Go in peace, glorifying the Lord by your life.” These convey a clear sense of mission. The command “Go” […]

Forming Children and Youth for the Mass, Part 7: Thankfulness

This is the seventh article in a series about forming children for active participation in the Mass. Eucharist means “thanksgiving.” How grateful are we for God’s gifts, especially his gift of Jesus? Do we sincerely give thanks and praise at Mass? How can catechists help children develop an attitude of gratitude to God that they can bring to the celebration of the Eucharist? Younger Children One simple way to encourage young children to cultivate gratitude […]

Forming Children and Youth for the Mass, Part 6: Real Presence

This is the sixth article in a series about forming children for active participation in the Mass. Polls show that many Catholics don’t believe in the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist. If so many adults don’t understand it, how can catechists help children to learn this and take it to heart? Begin with Catechists Catechists should be encouraged to live the Real Presence by receiving Eucharist regularly, learning about its meaning, and […]

Forming Children and Youth for the Mass, Part 5: Sacrifice

This is the fifth article in a series about forming children for active participation in the Mass. The Mass is both sacrifice and a meal. It’s not just Jesus’ sacrifice, but ours as well. However, in a culture where so many kids get anything they want, the idea of laying down one’s life for others or submitting to God’s will rather than their own may seem entirely foreign. At most, many would understand sacrifice as […]

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