Ya Gotta Laugh

Last night, we took our classes to church for the Lenten Sacrament of Reconciliation. For the most part, they behaved very well and it was a very nice service (it includes individual confessions which means the kids need to behave for a long stretch of time). My aide, Kris, and I were talking afterwards about how funny the kids can be. While some of the behavior can be a bit maddening, most of it makes me laugh on the inside. Here are just a few tidbits from last night.

  • Kris and I both received one Valentine’s gift each…a small package of Fannie May chocolate hearts. One young man (he’s a tall 8th grader…about 5′ 10″) came into class before we headed to church and handed Kris her gift which I thought was very sweet. Then he handed me my gift without missing a step as though it was the most natural thing on earth to do for a boy to give his teacher a Valentine gift. I was impressed that there was no razzing from the other students standing around. It was so completely innocent and sincere that I had to chuckle to myself.
  • Before heading to Church, one of the girls said, “we just went to confession in Advent.” I explained why Lent was so early this year and that, yes, it seems like we had just gone to confession. She responded, “Yeah, but I haven’t done anything wrong since then!”
  • In Church, the DRE used the time while kids were going to confession to sign up some of them for roles at the Confirmation Mass. One of the girls then called me over in a good-natured panic and said, “I just signed up to be a reader at Confirmation! I’m gonna make a fool of myself. I gonna mess up! I’m gonna fall down the stairs! I don’t know what to wear!”  The kids around her started to laugh as I tried to calm her down (laughing quietly to myself) and one of the priests actually came over and reminded us to quiet down! I assured her that the DRE was going to work with her and that she would be fine.
  • After confessing to the priest, each student was to go to the altar, say their prayer of penance, and then write down on a piece of paper what they would do during Lent as acts of penance. Then, they drop the paper in a bowl in the middle aisle as they return to their seats. One of the boys came back and told Kris, “I think I wrote the wrong thing on the paper. I wrote down my sins! Can I go back and change it?” She assured him that God knew what was in his heart and that no one would dig out his paper to read his list of sins.
  • After the prayer service, we distributed a study sheet in preparation for their Confirmation test (assessment) coming up in 2 weeks. Immediately, the big question was, “What if I fail?!!! Will I be held back?!!!” Kris and I calmed their fears and told them that if they don’t do well, we will personally work with them to make sure they know their faith in preparation for celebrating Confirmation. We had to remind them that we were not “weeding them out” but assessing their progress and responding as needed.
  • One of the young men (whose behavior has been less then stellar all year) asked me if I had gone up to one of the priests to confess my sins! I told him that I had not on this night but that I went during the Advent service and hope to go again before Lent is over. I got a kick out of being checked up on.
  • Apparently, this same boy commented to Kris last week (I was not present last week) about his less-than-favorable R.E. report card saying, “Thanks for getting me in trouble with that report card.” Without missing a beat, Kris said, “You wanna see who was responsible for that?” and took him around the corner of the room where there is a mirror on the wall and had him stand in front of it! She said, “I didn’t write your report card, Mr. Paprocki did, but here’s who’s really responsible.” He apparently reacted fine to that. Way to go, Kris!

Oh, these kids are something else, aren’t they! Gotta love em.

About Joe Paprocki 2631 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.

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