Seven Habits of Highly Effective Catechists

I’m sure you’re familiar with Stephen Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People (if not, I highly recommend it!). Well, tonight I’m speaking to catechists at a neighboring parish and I’ve decided to focus on seven habits of highly effective catechists. I firmly believe that the most effective catechists excel in the following areas:

  1. Ongoing formation – they never stop learning about and growing in their faith.
  2. Planning and Preparation – they prepare their lessons thoroughly and prayerfully.
  3. Creating a Learning Environment – they create a learning space that is conducive to faith formation.
  4. Using Engaging Activities – they know how to make their learners active, not passive.
  5. Maintaining Discipline – they know how to keep order.
  6. Leading Prayer – they not only include prayer in their lessons but create a climate of prayer that pervades their lessons.
  7. Positive Presence – they utilize skills that command attention and encourage participation.

I look forward to having a good discussion about each of these habits as we share ideas about how to be more effective in our ministry. Which habit is your strength? Which would you like to improve?

About Joe Paprocki 2736 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

5 Comments on Seven Habits of Highly Effective Catechists

  1. Why is it that no matter how much time I spend in planning and preparation, I always feel under-prepared? Do you ever feel that way?

  2. Yvonne, yes, I often still feel under-prepared even after much time in planning and preparation. I don’t think that’s a bad thing, however, because we need to remind ourselves that we are not in control of the catechetical process. The Holy Spirit is. We can plan and prepare all we want but then we have to allow room for the Spirit to guide and often that takes us into areas we didn’t plan on!

  3. I would have to say my strength is in preparation of my lessons but like Yvonne I feel under-prepared at times. With that being said, I feel that the learning environment I am in is not conductive to faith formation. I am in a first grade class room in our Parish School. However, I am not able to add my own touches…I would love to have a prayer corner set up for the children which would include a prayer box for special intentions. It would be nice if the children could take ownership in our activities and display what we accomplish with pride. I fear that what we work on in class is taken home and never discussed. Oh well, in a perfect world, right?

  4. I believe in preparing for lessons. But frankly, quite often I can hardly wait to find out what happens in the lesson because I know the Spirit takes over.

  5. Kathy, I find myself in the same boat…teaching in “someone else’s” classroom. Although I cannot rearrange desks, etc., I do set up a prayer center as a focal point for the class. It’s very simple: a cloth (reflecting the color of the liturgical season) on a small table with an open Bible, a small bowl of holy water, and a candle that (we don’t light it – safety reasons). We make the best out of what we have, right?

    Ed, you’re so right about the surprises that the Holy Spirit has in store for us. Although I am such a big proponent of planning and preparation, I can also appreciate the wisdom in the saying, “If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans!” Our planning is not to control but to conspire with the Holy Spirit.

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