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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

Lent with the Saints, Part 3: Giving Alms with St. Katharine Drexel

This is the last of three articles on the Lenten practices of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. Whenever I talk about the three pillars of Lent—prayer, fasting, and almsgiving—the conversation I have with young people about alms usually goes something like this: “What are alms?” one youth will ask. “Are those the things we get on the Sunday before Easter?” “No,” I’ll correct gently, “those are palms.” “I know,” another will say, “it’s a book in […]

Lent with the Saints, Part 2: Fasting with St. Vincent Ferrer

This is the second of three articles on the Lenten practices of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. Lent is a season in which we respond to the Lord’s call to “return to me with all your heart, / with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning.” (Joel 2:12) As I remind young people of the requirements for Lent, I usually share this passage with them to remind them that this obligation is nothing more than responding to […]

Lent with the Saints, Part 1: Praying with St. Patrick

In the first of three articles on the Lenten practices of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving, we learn from St. Patrick how to make Lent a special season of prayer. In the weeks leading up to Lent, I am reminded to tell the young people in my class about Lent. I have to tell them when Ash Wednesday services at my parish are. I am required to inform them of the Lenten regulations. I need to […]

Friends, Not Statues: Three Ways to Teach About the Saints

There are many ways we can teach about the saints. We can ask young people to write a report about their favorite saints. We can have the class choose a patron saint. We can include facts about saints in our weekly lessons. But when I think about the way I talk about my friends, I don’t talk about them as if they were a collection of facts from a Wikipedia page. I don’t say what […]

Stealth Catechesis: Teaching without Teaching

One evening, my 10th-grade Confirmation class revolted. “We do not want to use the book anymore,” said their leader. “Why not?” I asked. “We’ve been in school all day, and we’re tired of sitting around listening and reading. This is supposed to be church, not school.” I could see her point. After all, I had been working all day, had gone straight to the church from the train, and I had yet to eat dinner. […]

Parent-Teen Date Night

Editor’s note: This summer, we will be highlighting success stories from the field. Let’s share our stories of what works to inspire each other to great things in faith formation ministries! Today, Megan Arteaga tells us about Parent-Teen Date Night in youth ministry. As youth ministers, we want more parental involvement. We want more parents as adult leaders; we want more parents driving carpools; we want more parents as chaperones; heck, we’d be happy with […]

The Advent Prayer Grab Bag

Traditional Advent activities include Advent wreaths, calendars, and Jesse trees. While these are all great ways to help children celebrate the season, I like using something different: the Advent prayer grab bag. The prayer grab bag takes its inspiration from the popular party game of grab bags. I ask my group if anyone has ever participated in a grab bag and invite someone who has to explain the tradition of bringing one gift to a […]

1 2