Catechists As Faith Coaches

In today’s world, the concept of “coaches” has really grown. Now, we not only have coaches for sports, but we have business coaches, relationship coaches, life coaches, and so on. (if you don’t know what I’m talking about, just Google life coaches and you’ll see what I mean)

I like to think of catechists as “faith coaches.” I used this term last night when I spent the evening with the 6th grade families at St. Julian Eymard in Elk Grove Village. The DRE made a plug for one more 6th grade catechist and she encouraged the dads who were present to consider serving as a catechist. As I began my presentation, I added a plug, telling the folks that I was an 8th grade catechist and making the following comment to the dads: “I think a lot of us guys are more comfortable volunteering for coaching positions. We feel confident coaching sports: baseball, football, basketball. Well, I like to think of catechists as “faith coaches!” We are training our young people to learn the art of living as disciples of Jesus. We are teaching skills and concepts for a way of life. So I encourage you to consider this invitation…these kids need you.”

I’m not sure what kind of response the DRE got but I know that a number of the parents and especially the dads appeared to be listening intently as I shared this comparison. Perhaps it was a new way of thinking about the concept of serving as a catechist that shifted the emphasis from nurturing to empowering.

The term coach originally was used solely to refer to a carriage: a buggy that carried people…a form of transport. In 18th century England, specifically at Oxford University, the word coarch came to be used as a slang  term to refer to someone who “carried” students through exams. As catechists, we “carry” those we teach through the challenges of life which test one’s faith. Let us pray that we “carry” well!

About Joe Paprocki 2648 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.

3 Comments on Catechists As Faith Coaches

  1. Joe,

    I could not agree more! I love to teach and pray with my class as a coach. I also like having an impact on the young men saying we can pray together and afterwards we can toss the football around! Step up Guys!

    Joe D.

  2. Joe,

    I am CRE for our church. I will certainly use this the “coach” approach in recruiting new catechists. Ironically, my newest catechist is a baseball coach. I love the enthusiasm and love for kids he brings with him. He also considered becoming a priest before God chose a different path for him. I am so glad the Holy Spirit finally called him into our program. The kids look at him with awe and respect. What a wonderful role model of faith he will be! Thank you Lord for telling me I had to speak to the congregation. Thank you for putting the words in my mouth and opening ears. Thank you Joe for giving me more ideas for our program!

    Blessings
    Bonnie

  3. Bonnie, thanks for sharing your wonderful news! Cool story about recruiting a baseball coach to be a catechist…in many ways, his coaching experience will benefit him as a catechist! Best wishes and keep in touch.

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