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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

Classroom Management Techniques: Call-and-Response

A few years ago, I started using a new technique for getting the young people’s attention: call-and-response. When I would say, “God is good,” the young people would respond, “all the time.” Then I would say, “And all the time,” to which the young people would respond, “God is good.” I borrowed the idea from another catechist and the specific phrase from a priest who served at a local parish. The technique’s effectiveness has been […]

How Much Time Should a Catechist Spend Preparing Lessons?

I recently received an e-mail from a veteran catechist asking how much time catechists should put into planning their lessons. She had been using a textbook from another publisher for 10 years but was now using Finding God: Our Response to God’s Gifts from Loyola Press and was struck by the realization that she was being asked, not just to transmit information, but to facilitate a transformation of those she teaches. Here’s my reply to […]

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