Encountering Former Students

One of the rewards of being a catechist or a teacher of any kind is meeting former students. We always talk about sowing the seeds of faith with those we teach. It’s nice to see how some of those seeds have “sprung” as the years have gone by!

Over the last 2 evenings at Theology on Tap, I bumped into 2 former students of mine, both of whom are now engaged in training in the Diaconate! It’s so wonderful to see their passion for the faith compelling them to answer God’s call to serve in this capacity.

A few weeks back, I received an e-mail from a student I taught over 20 years ago and it warmed my heart:

I know you probably don t remember me, but I do remember you. Quigley South High School 1979 83 . You made me feel very secure and proud of my beliefs. I had never had so much fun in Religion Class. I never knew a teacher I could talk to like a friend. Your teachings have always stayed with me and I want you to know how inspirational you were. Thank you for everything you taught me those years. I hope you and your family are well.

Truth is, I DID remember this former student when I saw his name and it really warmed my heart to read what he said. We exchanged a few more e-mails to “catch-up” with one another after all these years.

This is just another example of the rewards of serving as a catechist or religion teacher!

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 www.catechistsjourney.com.


  1. I have been involved in my parish religious education program for 25 years, first as a catechist for 10 years as a volunteer catechist and 15 years as DRE. When I taught, I worried about whether or not I was effective as a teacher, whether they would remember what I taught them down the road. Now, my former students, grown and married, are registering their own children in our religious education. One young mother said, “I knew you would still be here. I learned so much from you.”

    So now, when my catechists come to me with their concerns about reachiing their students, I tell them that if they offer their best efforts and prayers for their ministry as teachers, then God will take care of the rest. I tell them that they will see that from the distance of a few years as I have been blessed to experience myself.

    Many prayers,
    Sharon Stump

  2. Sharon, thanks so much for sharing. Isn’t it wonderful to see those you taught coming back with their own kids? Of course it makes us feel older but once we get past that, it serves as a reminder of the profound work that we are privileged to participate in!

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