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.

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 […]

Forming Children and Youth for the Mass, Part 4: Intercessory Prayer

This is the fourth article in a series about forming children for active participation in the Mass. In the Universal Prayer or Prayer of the Faithful at Mass (formerly called the General Intercessions), the people claim their baptismal priesthood “by offering prayers for the salvation of all.” (General Instruction of the Roman Missal, 69) How can we help children and youth growing up in a culture that focuses on “me first” to understand and join […]

Forming Children and Youth for the Mass, Part 3: Listening to the Word

This is the third article in a series about forming children for active participation in the Mass. To help children listen well to the Word of God at Mass, catechists should provide experiences of Scripture that allow young people to respect the Word, to become aware that Jesus speaks to them through it, and to engage in holy listening.* Respect for the Word From early childhood, students should learn that a reading from the Bible […]

Forming Children and Youth for the Mass, Part 2: Song and Praise

This is the second article in a series about forming children for active participation in the Mass. Catechists can encourage children and youth to participate in the Mass by helping them become comfortable with singing and sung prayer and praise. Age-appropriate music should be a regular element in every catechetical session. Most textbook series come with a grade-level CD or music recommendations of common hymns we sing at Mass. That’s a place to start. Certainly, […]

Forming Children and Youth for the Mass, Part 1: Silence and Reverence

This is the first article in a series about forming children for active participation in the Mass. Do your catechists complain that students don’t know how to behave in church? The sad truth is many families do not go to Mass. Catechesis without Mass, however, is not going to “make them Catholic.” One way to help young people love and desire the Mass is by using “the language of mystery” in our catechetical sessions, as […]

Eight Ways to Teach Ascension and Pentecost

Ascension and Pentecost—the two great feasts that signal the end of the Easter season—often occur at the end of the school year. They may even occur after religious education programs have ended. We can easily forget about them. But understanding Ascension and Pentecost is essential if our young people are going to grow into what Pope Francis has called a Church of “missionary disciples.” Jesus gave us a mission to “Go into all the world and […]

10 Ways to Help Children Appreciate the Triduum

The Triduum—the three days from the Holy Thursday Mass of the Lord’s Supper to the end of Easter Sunday—marks the most important time of the Church year. Unfortunately, many families don’t participate in all three days. Some go to parts of it, but few have a sense of the three days as a full experience. How can catechists teach the meaning and importance of the Triduum? As a Confirmation catechist, I always teach about the […]

Teaching in a Culture Not My Own

This year I am teaching the second-year of Confirmation prep at my parish. My students are working-class Hispanic, while I am of white European descent from a typical American middle-class family. In this room, I am the stranger in a strange land. These young people are first- and second-generation immigrants, and they bring cultural diversity into my classroom. The very real differences between their lives and mine occasionally catch me by surprise. While discussing Christmas […]

The Spiritual Life of Catechists, Part 7: Devotion to Mary and the Eucharist

This is the seventh and final article in a series about the spiritual life of catechists, inspired by the list of characteristics in the National Directory for Catechesis. Did you know that the Virgin Mary is known as “mother and model of catechists?” Catechists are called to a special devotion to her because “[t]hrough her own special vocation, Mary saw the Son of God ‛grow in wisdom, in age and in grace’ (Lk 2:52). She […]

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