Faithfully Adapting Scripture Stories for Children

It is not unusual for catechists and publishers of textbooks to adapt Scripture stories for children. Let’s face it: the Bible was not written for seven-year-olds! When adapting Scripture stories for children, however, it is imperative that we remain faithful to Sacred Scripture and not change the essence of the stories we are relating. For example, until I was an adult, I thought that, in the story of Cain and Abel, Cain’s offering was not […]

Real Presence in the Eucharist

The subject of the Real Presence in the Eucharist came up during a lunchtime conversation. I am always a bit surprised to hear Catholics question what to me is a central tenet of our faith. I am reminded that unity of faith may be more an ideal than a reality. The question was left unanswered, but caused my reflection on what I really believe, and why, and what difference it makes in my ministry. Some […]

Celebrating Mary

May brings us to a special month to honor the Blessed Virgin Mary. Does your parish host a May Crowning in recognition of her role as Queen of All Saints? Such events are often special memories for Catholics, as author Elizabeth M. Kelly shares in May Crowning: A Reflection on a Marian Celebration. Maybe your school or parish prays a Living Rosary. Read how one parish incorporated lessons on the Rosary and Marian apparitions with a […]

St. Catherine of Siena and Teaching Virtues

“The purpose of education is to instill the virtues in the next generation,” says Bob Burnham, author of Little Lessons from the Saints. In honor of St. Catherine of Siena, whose feast day we celebrate April 29, watch the brief video featuring Burnham below. He says Catherine is an example who can teach us about virtues. How do you teach about the virtues in your classroom?

Free Prayer Cards Inspired by the Letters of Pope Francis

As we near the end of the catechetical year, you might be thinking how you might mark the occasion with a special keepsake for your students. Encourage children to keep up a practice of prayer throughout the summer break by giving them a prayer card (or three!), free for you to download this month, in English or in Spanish. Inspired by the letters of Pope Francis in the book Dear Pope Francis, the cards each […]

A Different Approach for Letters to the Bishop for Confirmation

During a trip I made last month to Jacksonville, FL, I had the pleasure of enjoying lunch with my friend and colleague Sean Williams (to my left) and two wonderful people, Deacon Jerry Turkowski (DRE) and Monina Mulleague (CRE), of San Juan del Rio Catholic Church in Jacksonville. Deacon Jerry and Monina recently adopted the Finding God program for their very sizeable parish and, over lunch, we discussed various aspects of evangelizing catechesis, and we […]

Experiences Teaching Catholic Devotions

During my planning of sessions this year, it occurred to me that young people in our programs never get exposed to the Stations of the Cross or many other traditional Catholic devotions. Even when I include the Stations in my plan, I’m teaching what they are, not leading or praying them with the young people. Maybe I needed to think differently about my approach, so this year I decided to try praying the Stations of […]

The Student Teaches the Catechist About Reconciliation

I often wonder if I am effective catechist. Too many times, the ninth graders I teach sit with blank stares and respond to questions with disinterested shrugs. I suspect that many of them are simply counting the days until their Confirmation, because they will no longer have to go to faith formation class. I often wonder what will happen to the seeds of faith I have scattered: will they take root or will birds come […]

Four Ways to Encourage Silence

The topic of silence has come up a few times in discussions with my seventh graders, and every time it does, the young people make it obvious by their facial expressions and comments that the idea of silence isn’t one they embrace. That’s not surprising, given the fact that they get so few opportunities to practice silence in our contemporary world. But I know that silence can lead to beautiful moments of prayer and can […]

Lent with the Saints, Part 3: Giving Alms with St. Katharine Drexel

This is the last of three articles on the Lenten practices of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. Whenever I talk about the three pillars of Lent—prayer, fasting, and almsgiving—the conversation I have with young people about alms usually goes something like this: “What are alms?” one youth will ask. “Are those the things we get on the Sunday before Easter?” “No,” I’ll correct gently, “those are palms.” “I know,” another will say, “it’s a book in […]

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