Empowering Young People to Become Women and Men for Others

Here’s a great idea that Fr. Tom Sweetser, SJ, recently passed along in his newsletter from the Parish Evaluation Project (reprinted with permission). The St. Francis Xavier Elementary School in Phoenix, AZ has as its mission and purpose, “Empowering students to become men and women for others through faith, service, and justice.”  One concrete way of […]

Priests Who Visit the Classroom

Twice a month, my students look forward to a visit from our associate pastor, Father Vincent. I am so glad my school makes it a priority to have a priestly presence in our halls. In my 12 years of teaching, three different priests have taken the time to visit my classes. Their 20-minute visits offer […]

Hallelujah and Peace to Celebrate Easter Season

Because our faith formation program takes time off for Holy Week and Easter Week, the Second Week of Easter is the first time we meet after the Church has celebrated the Resurrection and the Alleluia has returned to Mass. I like to make a point of that for the young people in my group and […]

Celebrating (Not-so) Small Successes in Adult Faith Formation

Numerous books and websites dealing with successful leadership strategies identify the importance of celebrating small successes (or “wins” or “victories”). Here is one such example: Brenda Bence: The Top 10 Reasons Why Leaders Should Celebrate Wins. This is precisely the reason why we are hosting a celebration tonight at Christ the King Parish: to celebrate the […]

Using E-mail in Your Religious Education Program

Whether using it to work, to keep in touch, to learn, or to conduct business, e-mail has become an integral part of how we communicate. Add to this our ability to access e-mail through mobile devices, and we can clearly see its benefit as a communication tool for religious education programs. A Few Things About […]

Will God Wipe Us Out?

In my third-grade faith formation class, the story of Noah’s Ark came up while we were discussing another topic. One of the girls asked, “If God punished the whole world with a flood and wiped everyone out because of sin, could he wipe us all out as well? We are all sinners.” My immediate thought […]

The Challenges of Teaching Holy Week

Teaching Holy Week to second graders is a bit like herding cats: daunting, if not impossible, without the guidance of the Holy Spirit. I’ve made many mistakes when teaching Holy Week. In the past, I’ve attempted to cram the principles of the Triduum and Easter on the last Sunday of class before Easter break (which […]

Preparing for Holy Week in Junior High

In our last session before Holy Week, I like to walk through the Passion story with my group. Last year I tried starting with Joe Paprocki’s Bible story treasure hunt. I hid pictures of symbols related to the events of the Passion around the room and gave the young people a few minutes to find […]

A Simple Way to Choose Volunteer Readers

My third-grade class likes to read aloud during our faith formation classes. Fortunately, I have no shortage of volunteers: they all want to take turns reading. While this is a good problem for a teacher to have, it’s not without its drawbacks. I struggle with how to be fair in calling on students to read […]

Miracle Workshop: Talking about the Miracles of Jesus

I knew we had a lot of ground to cover when I asked for examples of miracles Jesus performed and one of the students said, “When he gave fish to two guys.” That didn’t sound too miraculous, so I asked the boy if he thought that sounded impressive, and he admitted it didn’t. One of […]