Four Reconciliation Questions on the Mind of Every Third-Grader

Twice a year my students celebrate the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation with the other classes in the school—once during Advent and once during Lent. Since I teach third graders, I review the sacrament and the steps necessary to make a good confession. While every class is different, I have found some similarities over the years in their concerns, and they often have the same questions: What do I say at the beginning? What sins […]

Reviewing the Mass Before Christmas

I love the excitement, expectation, and joy that is abundant in my class as we prepare to celebrate Christ’s birth. As we get ready for Christmas with crafts and cookies, I also prepare my students for Christmas Mass. Many of my students do not regularly go to Mass, and they aren’t familiar with the Order of the Mass. I find that everyone benefits from a review of what happens at Mass before attending with their […]

New DVDs for Sacramental Preparation: God’s Gift

I am very excited to tell you about a new DVD series for sacramental preparation—a project that I was privileged to be intimately involved with from writing scripts to hosting segments! This new video series enhances instruction and parent involvement in sacramental preparation for First Reconciliation and First Eucharist. As part of the God’s Gift 2016 program, these DVDs are to be used in retreats, parent meetings, faith-formation sessions and more. There are five DVDs […]

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. […]

Evaluating Your Catholic School/Religious Education Liturgies

Recently, I was invited by a pastor to observe his parish’s weekly Catholic school liturgy, which leads me to this post suggesting that it would be a good idea for every Catholic school and parish religious education program to evaluate the liturgical experiences they invite their young people to participate in. Before I go any further, let me ask you, what is your overriding concern about your school’s or religious education program’s liturgies? I’d love […]

Sacraments of Initiation Learning Stations Used with Seventh Graders

In the next-to-last session for the year, I used the Sacraments of Initiation learning stations with my group of seventh graders. As the download page for the learning stations explains, the activity gets young people “out of their seats and moving around doing simple tasks to learn about the symbols and signs used in each Sacrament of Initiation.” Overall it was a successful lesson. I was surprised by how quiet the young people were as […]

Four Tips for Making Connections Between the Mass and Class Discussions

One of the boys in my group asked, “Do you go to church?” We were discussing the Mass, and he seemed genuinely surprised when I told him that, yes, I do go to church for weekly Mass. He admits he only goes to church occasionally, and he, like many kids in our programs, is more the norm than the exception. I don’t have the secret formula for how we change this trend and encourage those […]

Leading Others to an Experience of the Real Presence

Many years ago I was challenged by a high school student who accused me of telling her what to believe. We were discussing Paul’s admonition to the Corinthians regarding receiving the Eucharist unworthily (1 Corinthians 11) and whether or not Catholics must believe in the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in Holy Communion in order to “receive worthily.” The idea that she must believe this to be true in order to receive the Eucharist bothered […]

Sacraments of Initiation Learning Stations—Free Lesson Plan

We encounter Jesus through the Sacraments of Initiation—Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist. In this lesson, young people will complete activities at 12 different learning stations—each sacrament has four stations—that will deepen their understanding of the Sacraments of Initiation. The free lesson plan packet includes instructions for how to set up learning stations that get children out of their seats and moving around doing simple tasks to learn about the symbols and signs used in each Sacrament […]

A Celebration for All: First Holy Communion and the Parish

Last year was my first solo direction of the liturgy for children receiving First Holy Communion. At my parish, this Mass is not part of our regular weekend liturgies. This gave me the ability to ensure that every child had a role. Although we celebrated two beautiful liturgies, I felt that they were lacking a critical element: the involvement of the entire parish. This year I have been trying to reinforce that our celebration of First […]

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