Lifelong Learning: the "Charism" of Catechists

This is a recent comment I left on Catechist Connection (which has re-opened), concerning catechist formation:

I’m a big advocate of catechist formation. I think catechists should be models of lifelong learning. If catechists were like a religious community, I think that lifelong learning about the Catholic faith would be our “charism.” This learning can happen whenever possible, however possible: workshops, seminars, courses of study, online learning, reading, videos, and so on. No one size fits all. The important thing is to be learning about the faith, a process that is never done. Let’s give the catechist who couldn’t name the big red book with the gold cross on it the benefit of the doubt…maybe she didn’t know the answer at the moment but for all we know, she may be involved in formation at a beginning stage. Being a catechist is not about having all the answers. I always tell catechists, if you don’t know the answer, promise the kids you’ll get the answer for next time…that’s a way of modeling lifelong learning and showing that you are a disciple of Christ, striving to learn more and to grow closer to the Lord. Since learning happens in so many forms, I would like to recommend one form: reading books. I compiled a bibliography of introductory level books for the Website of the Catholic Young Adult Ministry of the Archdiocese of Chicago. This list can also be helpful for catechists who are beginners. Look over the list, find titles you are interested in and contact the various publishers or order through Bottom line: KEEP ON LEARNING! The link to the bibliography is:  


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. Continuing formation is vital. You are so right when you say that learning about the faith is “…a process that is never done.” Everyone in the parish community should be part of that “learning” or “formation”. I believe that it is safe to say that it is everyone’s “duty” in a parish to catechize, whether or not you are teaching in “the RE program”. Our pastor is always the catechist as he interacts with his parishioners. The liturgist is a catechist each time she/he forms, trains new ministers, provides liturgy that unites the Body of Christ, helps those in mourning or those preparing to be married. A parish musician is a catechist to the entire community by providing music that helps the assembly to understand the scripture and pray. Everyone has a specific function and when done well is catechizing. Questions get answered when we are all on the same team, no matter what stage of formation we are at. We all need to be aware of each other and respect each other because we are all doing God’s work.

  2. Well said, Lauretta. This is the vision of catechesis articulated in the General Directory for Catechesis. Too often, parishes “draw lines” that separate ministries and catechesis becomes an area of specialization for which only the DRE and catechists are seen as responsible for. If we could get more people in parish ministry to see this broader understanding of catechesis, the Church would be better off.

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