Ups and Downs

Last night was a night of ups and downs. We began by reviewing how to pray the Rosary and then we moved into our reflective prayer and prayed the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary, connecting this to our last class when we learned about the Cross of Jesus. A couple of the young people were pretty hyper and couldn’t sit still. I even had to pause at one point to ask one of them to apologize to the group for interrupting the prayer with various noises and comments.

It was frustrating for a while but eventually toward the last third of the prayer, they had achieved a calm. This allowed me to use a few minutes after the Rosary to invite them to talk to Jesus in the silence of their own hearts which they did very nicely for about 5 mintues.

We then moved into a review of the material that we have covered over the past 6 weeks. This did not go as well as planned since they were not able to keep their focus. I think my mistake was not giving the review to them as a quiz first and then going over the answers.

Finally, in the midst of that review, one of the young people who had been acting up throughout the evening (and for several weeks) finally pushed me too far and I had to firmly confront his behavior and challenge him to act more maturely. I never enjoy doing this but at the same time, I reminded the entire group that it’s my job to make sure that they begin to grasp an adult faith and that I will never hesitate to challenge behavior that is not conducive to doing so.

I also realize that the well-behaved kids appreciate it when poor behavior is clamped down on. They are annoyed by the bad behavior and feel that their time is wasted if such behavior is allowed. We do the entire group a favor by keeping discipline. It’s just not our favorite thing to have to do, right?

All in all, last night was not one of my best experiences but I think the tone is set for next week and I feel compelled to step up my efforts to facilitate an engaging session!

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. I just had a day similar to yours on October 21. I was even covering the rosary and reviewing material just as you were. I just came into town after going away for a conference for work, I wasn’t feeling good, and the children were not focused that day during class. It was a hard day! However, last week (October 28) was just fine–the children were focused and I had no problems. You just never know!

    I teach fourth grade. As part of my professional full-time job I work with children on a daily basis–but this is my first year volunteering to teach religious education. (Last year I helped in the 4th grade class as a teacher’s aide for religious education)

  2. Kim, thanks for sharing your experience. It really is an up and down existence, isn’t it? Let’s always hope there are more ups than downs!

  3. That’s for letting us know that even for you it ain’t always pretty 😉 My kids have a rough Sunday a couple weeks ago. Only two 5 year olds, and they were giggly, kept talking, and steering me off course (you know, typical 5 year olds, lol). Finally I gave up the lesson, read a Bible story book out loud, and let them do Bible puzzles. {sigh}

  4. Ali, I still don’t know how you folks who work with the little ones do it. Personally, I find that much more challening than working with the junior high kids. But then, that’s why the Spirit gives each of us different gifts, eh?

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