Watch Your Language!

I recently came across the article, “Be Aware of Your Language” by Justin Knowles, in which he warns about not assuming that our young people have any “real background of the Bible, its stories or any of this church talk that many of us keep using.” While not written from a Catholic point of view, this article gets at the heart of the New Evangelization, which tells us that we must not assume that those we […]

Four Ways to Connect to the Sunday Gospel

This is the fourth article in a series about liturgical catechesis. Here is the reality: a 2015 study by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) revealed that despite our best efforts, only 22% of Catholic parents take their kids to Sunday Mass. That means proclaiming the Gospel in the classroom may be the only way the story of Jesus Christ and his message reaches more than three-fourths of children in religious education. […]

Letting the Holy Spirit Lead When Your Lesson Falls Flat

We’ve all been there. You’ve planned the perfect lesson for the children or adults in your session. You’ve spent the week memorizing the material and making notes. You did the extra research to come with some great information not found in your regular curriculum. You’ve even prepared handouts or activities or songs. But once you got in the classroom, the lesson plan didn’t work at all. The group didn’t understand the material; your activities were […]

Four Ways the RCIA Makes Me a Better Catechist

When I started out as a catechist, I began with my parish’s Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) ministry. A few years later I joined the faith formation team that served our parish’s young people, first as a substitute, then as a regular catechist. I continue to serve in both ministries, and while teaching the faith to candidates in the RCIA is different from teaching it to young people (For example, candidates in the […]

10-Year-Olds Leaving the Church?

Recently, my good friend Julianne Stanz, Director of New Evangelization for the Diocese of Green Bay, WI, wrote an excellent article in their diocesan newspaper, The Compass, in which she addressed the findings of a recent CARA study that reveals that young people around the age of 13 but as young as 10 are deciding to leave the Church. The reasons cited include: “Catholic beliefs aren’t based on fact. Everything is hearsay from back before […]

Smells and Bells: Props for the Catechetical Session

This is the third article in a series about liturgical catechesis. One of the treasures of liturgical prayer is that it is physical and sensory in nature, filled with sights of seasonal colors and sacramental symbols: the smells of incense and chrism, the sounds of words and music. When we include these in our catechetical sessions, we let children know they are not entering mere school classrooms; they are entering sacred spaces where faith is […]

Getting Families Involved in the Classroom with Show-and-Tell

One day last spring, I was hanging out in the lobby of our parish center, as I often do when classes end for the day. It was 5:00 P.M., and some of the parents had spent the entire hour waiting for their children by relaxing in one of our chairs, reading a book to pass the time. Others had just arrived, having run a quick errand since dropping off their children an hour earlier. This […]

Does Your Faith Formation Space “Speak Catholic”?

CatechistsJourney.com ® is a service of Loyola Press, publishers of the Christ Our Life faith formation program. When children walk into religious education sessions in your parish, what do they see: another classroom like they have been sitting in all day in school? Or is it an inviting space that makes it easy to form community, where matters of the heart and spirit can be shared? Does your faith formation space “speak Catholic” through sign, symbol, […]

Sights, Sounds, and Movements: Connecting the Liturgy to the Classroom

This is the second article in a series about liturgical catechesis. We know the importance of becoming a “liturgical catechist.” But how do you integrate liturgy and catechesis in practice? You can begin by observing the marks of the liturgy—the sights, sounds, and movements of the Mass—with an eye toward how they can be adapted to the classroom. Pay particular attention to how the Mass is celebrated throughout the liturgical year. What are the colors […]

Simple Tips for Leading a Simple Prayer

While it is true that we can pray simply and spontaneously, at more formal gatherings, our prayer is to resemble how we pray at Mass. In other words, the prayer is meant to be liturgical, which means that it should have a basic structure. This means including parts for the assembly, including Scripture, and including elements of sign, symbol, and ritual. Many of us have never been taught how to prepare and lead a simple […]

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