Advice for New Catechists

Within two weeks of arriving from Ireland to live in Wisconsin, I found myself standing in front of a room full of tenth graders in a faith-formation classroom. As a new catechist and director of religious education, there were times when I definitely felt overwhelmed and a bit lost. But with mentoring, time, hard work, and patience, I found that I truly felt called to this ministry and that I sincerely enjoyed being a catechist. […]

Beatitudes and the Catechist: Blessed Are the Poor in Spirit

This is the first article in a series exploring the Beatitudes as they relate to being a catechist. “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:3) Happy are the catechists who can throw away a lesson plan, for they will respond to the needs of young people. One of my favorite things about being a catechist is lesson planning. I love coming up with activities and discussion questions […]

What’s the Big Idea?

I once took a course in homiletics (the art of delivering homilies and liturgical reflections). The professor often said, “Unless you can summarize the goal of your homily in one sentence, you have no business being in the pulpit.” He was serious about that. When each of us got up to deliver a practice homily, we were asked to tell the class our main goal in a single sentence. If we couldn’t, the professor made us […]

Discipleship Is a Relationship—Catechetical Sunday 2017

This Sunday, September 17, 2017, is Catechetical Sunday, with the theme of “Living as Missionary Disciples.” I’d like to take this time to offer my gratitude and affirmation for all catechists who have responded to the call to serve in this heroic vocation and this splendid ministry! For many of us, the notion of discipleship is still a bit of a mystery. What exactly does it mean to be a missionary disciple? It sounds like a […]

Grandparents and Grandchildren Go to Faith Camp

Grandparents can play a unique and important role in family faith formation. The General Directory of Catechesis describes the family as the primary place where catechesis takes place: “In this family catechesis, the role of grandparents is of growing importance. Their wisdom and sense of the religious is often times decisive in creating a true Christian climate.” (236) Pope Francis echoed a similar message in a tweet about grandparents: How important grandparents are for family life, […]

Classroom Prayer Corner

Every classroom should have a prayer corner. This is a special place used exclusively for prayer and reflection. Since I have 32 students in my third-grade class, I don’t have much space—my prayer corner is on top of a steel storage cabinet. With a little work, I’ve transformed it into a place that speaks of the beauty of our faith by decorating it with objects that capture my students’ attention. Some of these objects are […]

Connecting with Your Fellow Catechists

An important strategy for personal growth and success is to network with others. When my son Mike was bogged down working a job that didn’t always fulfill him as he had hoped, I encouraged him to network with clients, which he did. One of those connections led to a new job that he absolutely loves. As catechists, we benefit from networking with one another! As we all gear up for the start of the catechetical […]

10 Not-to-Miss Posts from Our Summer

I hope the summer months have been a time of renewal for you, and I hope you were fortunate enough to have some time off to enjoy the warmth and sunshine that this time of the year blesses us with. While I was able to take some time off, we kept the wheels turning here at Catechist’s Journey with daily posts designed to speak to a variety of issues and challenges that we face in the […]

10 Things Veteran Catechists Want New Catechists to Know

What do you wish someone had told you before you became a catechist? We asked this question on our Catholic Faith Formation Facebook page and got some great responses—good encouragement, especially for new catechists starting their first year of teaching. You’re responsible for one thing: getting the child closer to God. —Shannon Panchyshyn I’ve been teaching religion for almost 50 years in a regular classroom and PREP classes. I learned from experience. If I had […]

Engaging Young People with Active Learning Strategies

Professional educators know that, for learning to be effective, it needs to be an active experience. Active learning ensures that learners actively engage and participate in the learning process by doing something other than simply listening and then, of course, thinking about what they are doing. Active learning is learner-centered as opposed to teacher-centered. I talk about this in my recent post: Shining the Spotlight on Those We Teach. What this means for us as […]

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