Catechists as Missionary Disciples

Catechetical Sunday, with its 2017 theme of “Living as Missionary Disciples,” is a wonderful opportunity for us to reflect on why we do the challenging work of catechesis. How do we live as missionary disciples? Mission When I hear the word missionary, I think of a priest sailing to some far away and foreign land to preach the Gospel, armed only with his crucifix and his conviction. We might think that the call to be […]

How Did Aquinas Survive without Audiovisual Resources?

Whenever I’m preparing to give a presentation and there’s some trouble with the projector or laptop or other technology, I jokingly ask those assisting me, “How did Aquinas survive without AV resources?” Of course, he and other great teachers did just fine without them! That doesn’t change the fact that, today, technology provides us with a myriad of ways to enhance our presentation of the Gospel and that most people—especially young people—are accustomed to accessing information through technology. […]

The Effective Use of Audiovisual Resources in Faith Formation

Not all of us are natural-born storytellers, as is illustrated by the following joke: once upon a time, a guy went on a tour of a story factory. As he walked through the factory, he heard a voice on the loudspeaker call out a number every few minutes. After each number was announced, there was a palpable reaction from the workers: laughter, tears, anger, or amazement. The guy asked his tour guide what was going […]

Don’t Put Words in God’s Mouth!

When teaching others, especially children, about Scripture, we often find ourselves paraphrasing the actual Scripture passage in order to use words that more closely resonate with contemporary experience. This is all well and good, and I do it myself all the time; however, it is important that we expose people to the actual Scripture passages we are summarizing to ensure that we are not putting words in God’s mouth! Recently, I overheard someone speaking to […]

How Do We Know If We’re Teaching Effectively? Authentic Assessment in Faith Formation

When I speak at catechetical conferences, I try to sit in on other speakers’ presentations to learn and to see what’s hot and what’s not in the world of catechesis. I usually try to be a fly on the wall, but occasionally I feel compelled to ask a question. Once, I unwittingly and unintentionally brought a workshop to a screeching halt by doing just that! The presenter was a prominent figure in the world of catechesis […]

Ice-Cream Evangelization: Reaching Out During the Summer

Summer is a great time for busy families to relax and reconnect, enjoying warm weather and outdoor activities. Unfortunately, it can also be a time when many families take a vacation from faith formation. Our faith-formation programs themselves might be partly to blame: many programs run from September through May with no activity taking place during the summer. As a result, we reinforce the mistaken conception that faith formation is solely a catechetical endeavor that […]

The Catechist as a Personal Trainer for Prayer Life

“Central aspects of the formation of children are training in prayer and introduction to Sacred Scripture” (General Directory for Catechesis 178). Today let’s focus on the training in prayer part of that. Training indeed is key, but how do we understand that? Think of a personal trainer: when we need to get in shape or need new motivation to stay in shape, we might hire a trainer to teach us the basics of fitness and […]

Learning by Empowerment

We sometimes get the notion that when Jesus performed miracles, the disciples just watched from the sidelines. Not so in the story of Jesus Feeding the 5000 in the Gospel of Mark (6:33–44)! In fact, when the disciples alert Jesus to the need to feed the crowds, Jesus’ response is “You give them something to eat.” (NIV) As the story progresses, the disciples do not remain passive. They do the following: take inventory of what is […]

Beyond Memorizing Words to Meditating with Traditional Prayers

This past year I was a substitute catechist for my parish’s faith-formation program. When a young man in one of the classes learned that I had written a book of meditations based on the lives of the saints, he said, “Of course it’s a book of meditations. It’s Bob.” Even though we didn’t spend much time together, he knew that prayer and contemplation are the source of all that I am and all that I […]

Weaving Prayer Throughout the School Day

It’s time to say goodbye to another class of third graders, and as I reflect on our time together, I have noticed that there was a beautiful pattern woven throughout each day. Our classes began and ended with prayer, and we took advantage of opportunities to pray as they popped up throughout the day. For example, our school is next to a main thoroughfare through our city. Hundreds of cars pass by our school every […]

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