Safety Programs in the Classroom

I began my position as the director of faith formation at my parish with dreams of renewing my students’ and their families’ relationships with Christ. I imagined how I was going to be the best catechist to my students. I would create engaging lesson plans, I would lead reflective retreats, and I would assist at […]

Ending the Year on a Good Note

When we approach the end of faith formation classes for the year, we can be overwhelmed by a flurry of activity. During this period, our highest priorities are the celebration of the sacraments, planning for the final classes, end-of-year meetings, and looking forward to the next year. Amidst all these priorities—as well as tying up […]

Summer Is a Good Time for Your Parish to “Go Green”

Summer is a great time for your parish to “go green,” and going green can be a very effective way of inviting young adults to explore their faith. Caring for the planet is an issue of great importance to young people, who increasingly view institutional religion as irrelevant and out of touch with important issues. In […]

Making Mother’s Day Memories: Parish Suggestions

During Mother’s Day weekend there will be extra guests at our parishes: sons, daughters, and grandchildren all attending Mass with their mothers and grandmothers. There will be grandmothers, mothers with children of all ages, expectant mothers—whether for the first time or not—stepmothers, foster mothers, spiritual mothers, and substitute mothers. Mother’s Day presents us with an […]

Who Should Serve as Catechists?

In most parishes the process of finding catechists is pretty simple: we ask, even beg, for people to fill empty slots and some come forward. If that fails, we may tap former catechists or aides, or ask parents of children in the program to fill the needs. Failing that, we may even resort to guilt: […]

A Popular Pentecost Idea

With Pentecost being about a month away (May 15, 2016), I thought it would be a good idea to remind you of an idea I proposed last year: Discipleship Pledge Cards for Pentecost. This idea flows from my most recent book, A Church on the Move: 52 Ways to Get Mission and Mercy in Motion. Here’s […]

Historical Considerations for Why Catholics Are Afraid to Evangelize

The New Evangelization calls us to reclaim and attend to the traditions and language of Catholicism. But as I discussed in my previous post, many Catholics are afraid to use the word evangelization because they are not comfortable having a personal and lived relationship with Christ. But there are also three historical considerations that may […]

Breaking the Silence on Using the Word “Evangelization”

The word evangelize comes from the Greek word meaning “to bring the Good News.” Simple enough, right? And yet it seems that many Catholics are afraid of the word evangelization and barely use it at all. “Maybe we can call it something else,” I have often been asked, “something not quite so scary, so intimidating.” […]

Beginning a Homily Prep Ministry

Is preaching homilies a challenge? Certainly. Any congregation can appreciate the fact that it is not possible to be spectacular week in and week out. By the same token, this is precisely why (theoretically) only specific individuals are ordained for this task: they are supposed to be individuals with a charism for preaching who have undergone […]

Ministry Burnout vs. Ministry on Fire

Several years ago, I read an article that truly hit the nail on the head regarding the ministry of directors of religious education. The article was titled, “Unsung (and Underpaid) Heroes of the Parish,” and included this paragraph: The U.S. bishops believe that the “single most critical factor in an effective parish catechetical program is the […]