How Did I Get Myself Into This? (But I'm Glad I Did)

When I entered a doctor of ministry program a few years back, some people asked me what I would do when I was finished with the program. “Will you be changing jobs? Will you be getting a promotion? Will you teach at a University? Will you be getting a raise?” Well, recently I finished the course work for my D. Min. So what’s the first thing I did?

I volunteered to serve as an eighth-grade catechist!

All too often, advanced studies take people farther and farther away from actual practice of what they have studied. Many of our catechetical experts in the United States are professors in universities, directors of various catechetical organizations, or on the staff of diocesan catechetical organizations. Don’t get me wrong: we need people in such positions, and many fine people are serving in these capacities. However, I felt very strongly that if I was going to be seen as a trusted voice in the ministry of catechesis, the best thing for me to do was to be a catechist. The catechetical community needs to have a voice coming directly from the “trenches,” and that’s exactly where I want to be: embedded with the church’s catechetical “troops.”

I’m one of you. I’m with you on this journey. I share the same joys and challenges of forming our young people in faith. The purpose of this blog is to reflect on this journey; to identify strategies, tools, and tips for increasing our effectiveness as catechists; and to deepen our spirituality so that the well never runs dry.

I’m honored to be accompanying you on this journey. May the wind of the Holy Spirit be at our sails!

About Joe Paprocki 2742 Articles
Joe Paprocki, DMin, is National Consultant for Faith Formation at Loyola Press, where, in addition to his traveling/speaking responsibilities, he works on the development team for faith formation curriculum resources including Finding God: Our Response to God’s Gifts and God’s Gift: Reconciliation and Eucharist. Joe has more than 35 years of experience in ministry and has presented keynotes, presentations, and workshops in more than 100 dioceses in North America. Joe is a frequent presenter at national conferences including the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress, the Mid-Atlantic Congress, and the National Conference for Catechetical Leadership. He is the author of numerous books, including the best seller The Catechist’s Toolbox, A Church on the Move, Under the Influence of Jesus, and Called to Be Catholic—a bilingual, foundational supplemental program that helps young people know their faith and grow in their relationship with God. Joe is also the series editor for the Effective Catechetical Leader and blogs about his experiences in faith formation at


  1. Hi Joe,
    What a great blog! I’m looking forward to reading more. This post particularly struck me because I have been contemplating volunteering as a catechist at my parish — at least as a sub. I did an advanced degree in theology and didn’t always have a lot of spare time to volunteer. While the academic side of things interests me greatly, I also find that theological studies become kind of hollow when I’m not involved in the life of the Church and its people. At the same time my theology has added so much to my ability to respond to people’s needs and to proclaim the Gospel. Well, that’s a long way of saying that your post encourages me to follow my instinct to get back into catechesis. Many thanks. Julie

  2. Welcome to blogging, Joe. This is a great topic and a good-looking site. There’s lots to say about catechetics. I look forward to reading your posts.

  3. Julie, thanks so much for your comment and I enthusiastically support your notion to volunteer as a catechist! Theology and pastoral practice go hand in hand…both inform and serve the other. Any parish would be lucky to have someone with an advanced degree in theology as part of their catechetical program! I wish you well. -joe

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