He Did Not Say Anything to Them Without Using a Parable

This Sunday’s Gospel, for the 11th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B (June 14, 2015) is about the Parable of the Mustard Seed and includes the line, “He did not say anything to them without using a parable.” (Mark 4:34) Jesus’ use of stories/parables was not just some quaint medium of a simpler time. Even […]

Pentecost Fire Drill

In one of my first years teaching, I was introducing the story of Pentecost to my group of fourth graders. The book had an illustration of the Feast of Pentecost, with the disciples gathered in a room, tongues of fire over each of their heads. They were facing an open door with looks of shock […]

Speaking to the Heart

Parishes report that Easter Sunday and Christmas Mass are the highest attended services of the year and our congregations are made up of people at many different places in their spiritual journeys. As ministers we have a whole litany of terms for people who do not attend Mass regularly: “Chreasters” and “Eastmasses” for those who […]

Stories, Not Labels

I work in the Office of New Evangelization for my diocese, and I remember a phone call from an 86-year-old woman named Gladys. She wanted to find out more about the “coming home” programs the diocese was offering for Catholics who had been away from the Church for a while. After a period of active […]

Movie Time

When planning my weekly faith formation lessons, I tend to look for certain types of activities that I’m comfortable teaching. In addition to the textbook, I usually include worksheets (crossword puzzles, word searches, etc.), classroom games, and journal writing. Every once in a while we will do a craft or physical activity, but with a […]

Seven Discoveries I’ve Made in Reevaluating the Year’s Plan

About this time of year, we catechists might be feeling great about how the year is going or frustrated that things aren’t going as expected—probably a mix of both. We find ourselves in the middle of Lent, wondering whether our efforts will bear fruit. This is an excellent time to pause and reevaluate the year’s […]

A “Flipped-Classroom” Approach to Religious Education

One of the challenges we face as catechists is never having enough time in our classes. We want to do so many creative and meaningful things, especially related to prayer experiences, but we have barely enough time to cover the basic doctrine. One approach that is gaining traction in faith formation is the “flipped-classroom.” This concept […]

Forging Pathways to Christ: The New Evangelization and Families

Talk of the New Evangelization is sweeping parishes and dioceses around the globe. We know it is necessary, but we can be confused about what it actually is, what it is not, and how to do it. There is often some confusion between evangelization and catechesis. Most people seem to respond to the “how” of […]

Lessons in Teaching from Jesus

We’re a little past the halfway point of the year in my parish’s program, and in reviewing the track of lessons, I noticed that I hadn’t yet used any skits this year. Our upcoming lesson on Jesus as Teacher will change that. Session 13 in Finding God, Grade 7, focuses on Jesus the Teacher. The […]

Promoting Catholic Identity, Part 5: An Attitude of Faith and Hope

This is the fifth and final article in a series on the five characteristics of Catholic identity and how we can nurture those in our children. In his apostolic exhortation “The Joy of the Gospel,” Pope Francis cautions Catholics of becoming “sourpusses” (EG 85). Pessimism and defeatism are not Catholic attitudes. We are people of […]