Passover Storytelling

In leading a lesson on the Last Supper and the Eucharist, I used most of my usual plan, inspired by Finding God, Grade 7, Chapter 16. And, as usual, I needed to pause in the discussion of the Last Supper to talk about the Passover. Because my group is preparing for Confirmation, three types of young people gather with me each week: those who haven’t been to religious education classes since First Eucharist and First […]

Evangelization Starts Here: A Welcoming Community

I hear people say all the time that they wish more young families would attend Mass regularly. That’s not going to happen unless regular attendees are more welcoming to those young families who venture forth to test the waters of our parishes. For too long, Catholics have arrived/settled into their pews in church in a manner similar to passengers boarding a certain airline: once you get your seat, you try not to make eye-contact with […]

The Six “Be-Attitudes” for Inviting Someone to Come to Mass

People who come to Mass infrequently tend to “PACE” themselves by going to church on Palm Sunday, Ash Wednesday, Christmas, and Easter (P-A-C-E). So how can we reach out to our friends, family members, and those we work with who are not practicing their faith? The answer is surprisingly simple. According to Lifeway Research, 51% of unchurched Americans say the most effective way to get them to visit church would be through a personal invitation […]

Good and Bad Choices

During this week’s lesson, I asked my fourth-grade class if they had a choice to love God. Many confused faces stared back at me. Can a person decide for themselves to not love or follow God? Yes was their response. God created us because he loved us, but he didn’t force us to love him in return. He gave us a choice to love him back. “Why would he do that?” I asked. “If you […]

Six Strategies for Connecting to the Sunday Eucharist

This is the fifth and final article in a series about liturgical catechesis. Many young people in parish catechetical programs don’t go to weekend Mass for a variety of reasons. Even so, catechists should always offer an inviting expectation that weekend Mass attendance is the norm. Here are some simple strategies. 1. Teach the importance of Sunday. We all know the Third Commandment: “Remember to keep holy the Sabbath day.” Read from Pope John Paul […]

The Student Teaches the Catechist About Reconciliation

I often wonder if I am effective catechist. Too many times, the ninth graders I teach sit with blank stares and respond to questions with disinterested shrugs. I suspect that many of them are simply counting the days until their Confirmation, because they will no longer have to go to faith formation class. I often wonder what will happen to the seeds of faith I have scattered: will they take root or will birds come […]

Four Ways to Encourage Silence

The topic of silence has come up a few times in discussions with my seventh graders, and every time it does, the young people make it obvious by their facial expressions and comments that the idea of silence isn’t one they embrace. That’s not surprising, given the fact that they get so few opportunities to practice silence in our contemporary world. But I know that silence can lead to beautiful moments of prayer and can […]

Singing Grace Before Meals

As I continue my quest to encourage Catholics to sing more when we gather for faith formation and various other activities in our parishes, I would like to suggest a simple melody for singing Grace before mealtime. Rather than create a new melody, I suggest we use the melody from the traditional “Agnus Dei” and use the words of our traditional Grace Before Meals prayer: Bless us, O Lord, and these thy gifts which we are […]

Why Do We Observe Lent?

Lent is one of my favorite times of the year. It forces me to slow down and focus more intently on Jesus for 40 days. But when teaching fourth graders, slowing down is not the optimal way to communicate the importance of Lent. While I was talking to my class about Lent, I was surprised by the number of students who confused Lent and Advent. Too many didn’t understand much of Lent beyond giving up […]

The Extraordinary Power of Small Faith Groups

This Lent, for four weeks, I am facilitating a small faith group for my parish, Christ the King. Now, I have to begin by telling you that this is not my prayer group or any kind of insular little group that has been meeting for years. Our small groups are “pop-up” in nature—we do them for four weeks, several times per year and people sign up for them not knowing who they will be thrown […]

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