How Closely Do You Follow Your Textbook?

We catechists are blessed in this day and age to have many fine catechetical textbooks from a variety of Catholic publishers. The General Directory for Catechesis reminds us however that there is no substitute for the person of the catechist. I know that when I teach, I think of my text book as a guide and a resource but I also do a lot of “ad lib” and bring in a variety of activities that reinforce the lesson. I’m wary of catechists who ignore their textbook altogether but also cautious about following the textbook too closely. I think flexibility and creativity are crucial…i.e., leaving room for the Holy Spirit!

What about you? What percentage of your lesson is directly connected with your textbook?

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. I confess that I am not good at all at following textbooks. I do use them to prepare and occassionaly will make reference to them in the classroom. But I always end up deriving my lessons, objectives and outcomes from comments students make, emotions that get expressed, and exchanges made in the classroom. As a result my classes may lack some clarity in terms of outcomes in the overall scope and sequence. It is not that I dislike textbooks, it is rather, that I enjoy the students and the Good News so very much more.

  2. Tom, thanks for sharing. One thing that I try to keep in mind is that kids have “felt” needs and “prescribed” needs. It’s very important, as you said, to be responsive to their comments and needs. It’s also true that there are things they need to know about their faith heritage that they may not be aware of. The Church “prescribes” these needs…thus the role of a curriculum. People like you who enjoy students and the Good News so much can find creative ways to help young people realize how much they need this heritage. Thank God for catechists like you who absolutely love what they are doing!

  3. Thanks Joe, our Parish uses the “Christ Our Life” series, published by Loyola Press. I am on their website weekly to make sure I am integrating Scripture and proper doctrine in my lessons.

  4. Again, like Kathy, I use our text to the letter. I have winged it on occasion, and I do bring in extra stuff. But to keep little minds focused, we need to refer back to our book to remind us why we are there.

    We also usually have 5 or 10 minutes at the end of class where I allow the children to build Bible based puzzles, or look at some of the books I’ve provided. Those are also instances where I continue to teach, only I sneak it in then 😉

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