Living as Missionary Disciples: Be Careful What You Ask For!

This year’s theme for Catechetical Sunday, September 17, 2017, is “Living as Missionary Disciples.” But just what does it mean to be a missionary disciple? My friend, Vickie Tufano, tells a story of a campus minister at a university who received a phone call from an irate parent who was calling to complain that his daughter had chosen to ignore her degree in engineering and become a missionary. He blamed the campus minister for filling […]

Catechists as Missionary Disciples

Catechetical Sunday, with its 2017 theme of “Living as Missionary Disciples,” is a wonderful opportunity for us to reflect on why we do the challenging work of catechesis. How do we live as missionary disciples? Mission When I hear the word missionary, I think of a priest sailing to some far away and foreign land to preach the Gospel, armed only with his crucifix and his conviction. We might think that the call to be […]

Possibly the Most Important Paragraph in a Church Document: RCIA #75

Several years ago, a campaign began to invite former Catholics to return to the Church: Catholics Come Home. But did you ever ask, “What are folks coming home to? And why? What am I doing to help welcome them to my parish faith community?” People stop coming to church for a variety of reasons. The question is, are we inviting them back to the very same experience that caused them to leave in the first place? […]

Celebrating the Ascension

The Feast of the Ascension of the Lord often happens after our religious education sessions are over for the school year. However, it can be the perfect final lesson of the year as students depart for the summer. Include the Ascension in your lesson plan for the final session by encouraging students to be disciples over the summer. Just as Jesus left the Twelve with a mission, you can do the same. I Am with […]

Make No Mistake: Disciples Make Disciples!

OK, I know! The Holy Spirit makes disciples! But the point that I want to make is that the Holy Spirit makes disciples through other disciples. I bristle at promotions for catechetical resources (books or videos) that claim to do it all on their own and promise to make it “so easy” for catechists that all the catechist needs to do is, in essence, get out of the way, so that the resource can work […]

The Power of Prayer: Three Ways to Model Discipleship

Peter, a director of religious education at a parish, asked Susan if prayer was interwoven into her classroom. “But I don’t have time to pray with my students and still get all of the material covered!” Susan answered, exasperated. “The most important thing,” Peter assured her, “is to model a life of discipleship grounded in prayer.” “Why?” Susan asked. “Because without the deep breath of prayer,” Peter replied, “our students will never believe that we […]

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 a snippet from the post from last year: What we need is a strategy for getting people to take the […]

From Fulfilling Obligations to Living Heroically

Fear can be a great motivator. When I was growing up, religion classes at St. Casimir School regularly included filmstrips (the great cutting-edge technology of the 1960s) from the St. John’s University Sound Filmstrip Catechism that always seemed to include a depiction of God speaking in an angry voice and/or people burning in hell. For most of us growing up at that time, the primary reason for going to church was to avoid the fires […]

Discipleship Pledge Cards for Pentecost

Pentecost is right around the corner, so it’s not too early to talk about how the parish can approach this important day in our Church calendar. Too often, we stop at the perfunctory: ask everybody to wear red, sing some Holy Spirit hymns, and invite people to read the Prayers of the Faithful in different languages. If we really want to form adult disciples, however, and honor this day for what it truly stands for, […]

Being a Disciple Takes Practice

In a recent session, my class talked about being a disciple in the context of Ordinary Time. Since this Church season occupies most of the liturgical year, the discussion centered on how we can follow Jesus in everyday life. We focused on the works of mercy as ways to practice our discipleship. I set the stage by holding up a poster-sized copy of the liturgical calendar and gave a brief introduction to how we mark […]

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