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 […]

Three Ways to Teach the Saints According to St. Teresa of Ávila

I hate to admit this, but I often give the saints short shrift in my faith-formation classes. Since I am helping ninth-graders prepare for the Sacrament of Confirmation, my focus is usually on having them pick a Confirmation name. To that end, I ask them to write a paper, produce a video, or perform a skit about a saint. If I can find the time, I will set aside a lesson in which I give […]

How to Be a Prayer Coach

It’s no coincidence that some of the best coaches and managers in sports are former players themselves. They understand what it’s like to be on the court, field, or ice. In fact, some of the best coaches and managers are those who themselves struggled during their playing years. As a result of their struggles, they studied the game more intensively, seeking to learn every nuance that might assist them since their own pure talent was marginal. […]

Take Time to Celebrate

At the end of the religious education year, there’s often a flurry of activity—final preparations for First Communion and Confirmation, May Crowning, early start on registrations for next year, and catechist recruitment before summer break. But it’s important that we take time to celebrate the year completed and savor its graces. Our parish did that in a tangible way with a special dinner for catechists and others who make religious education possible: crossing guards, aides, […]

Reuse and Review at the End of the Faith Formation Year

As I approached the last faith formation class of the year, I was looking for ways to review the material we had covered during our time together. In the past I’ve used some kind of game or competition as a review activity. But with this being my first year teaching fourth grade, I wasn’t sure if these activities would work well with this older group of students. When I was preparing for our final class, […]

Will Robots Replace Catechists? Can They?

During the lifetime of some people who are reading this blog, artificial intelligence will be an everyday reality. Already, robotics are manufacturing and driving cars; the only difference is that they do not have a “face.” Technology in all forms is a daily growing force in our world. Which poses a question: Can a robot serve as a catechist? Without hesitation, I would say no. A catechist is first and foremost a disciple of Jesus […]

Evangelization Is Our Deepest Identity

One of the most exciting thrusts in the world of catechesis in the past several decades has been the emergence of the importance of evangelization. In fact, catechesis and evangelization are so closely related that the General Directory for Catechesis tells us that “in pastoral practice, it is not always easy to define the boundaries of these activities.” (62) In other words, there is not only overlap between catechesis and evangelization, but there is also […]

Condensed Easter Lesson

The downside of having a late Easter this year is that we only have one full session after returning from Easter break and before our May Crowning closes the year. This means that I have to condense my Easter Season lessons from two or three to one. Here’s my basic plan. I’ll start by playing a recording of Handel’s “Hallelujah Chorus.” While this song is more often played during Christmastime, the celebratory “Hallelujahs” make it […]

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