The Apple Doesn't Fall Far…

Patti, my co-catechist, met the mom of one of our students who, to say the least, has been a handful. The mom expressed surprise that she hadn’t received a phone call yet this year since “I get a call from his catechists every year!” The mom went on to express her disdain for continuing classes after Confirmation saying, “I don’t see why that’s necessary.” Patti did her best to explain to her that Confirmation is not the end of anything but a beginning of a new chapter in the spiritual journey. She also acknowledged that this student has been a handful but that we have dealt with it in class.

All of this to say that it is no wonder that some of our students show little interest in their religious formation when it is not a high priority for their parents. I’m not about to go on here beating up parents. First, as catechists, we are partners with parents, called to support them in any way we can. If they are not in a place to be the primary teachers of their children when it comes to the Catholic faith, our role becomes even more indispensable. Second, our parish communities must do more to nurture the faith of adults and to empower parents to assume their role as the primary educators of their children in matters of faith. Whether these efforts be called whole community catechesis, total parish catechesis, life-long catechesis, intergenerational catechesis, or, as I like to think of it, catechesis done properly, our parish communities must do more to help adults, such as the mom that Patti met, to grow in their own faith and to give witness to their children.

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. Yes it’s very discouraging sometimes. We brought all classes this week over to the church for Stations with an explanation before we began. The kids were actually very interested for the most part. Parents knew before hand that this was the “lesson” for the week. Yet, it didn’t stop many of them from entering the church excusing themselves with an interuption… to “collect” their child because we went overtime for about 10 minutes. Parents were also invited to come in and participate before hand. Not a one came inside to pray. They stayed out in the parking lot.

  2. I’ve had some recent “run-in’s” with parents regarding discipline issues. It is amazing to me how unresponsive parents are when told of their childs behavior in faith development. What I resort to now (as the director of the m.s. youth program) is that I have the parent SIT in class with their child to ensure good behavior.That seems to work very well seeing as jr. high kids want no part of their parents in the room. They behave when they realize that their parent may be asked to come in.

  3. We are the full time “substitute” teachers for the students, they sense it and some force the issue for they only see us once a week. The parents can be fixed. I sometimes feel like the baseball coach who sees the Van drive off with no interaction with the parents. I see a half-full glass of water. Prepare and Focus for the class, understand we are powerless to change the parents. However, we ARE empowered to change the students! Any disciplinary problems should be directed to the DRE and have the student reprimanded, it is a privilege not a right to attend class. I have met many parents on my own time to discuss a

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