Bishop Cupich at NCEA

I had the pleasure of listening to Bishop Blase Cupich (pronounced soopich) of Rapid City, South Dakota, speak at the NCEA convention in Indianapolis the other day. He spoke about exploring “proven pathways” for facing the challenges that we face in the catechetical ministry in our culture and times. In particular, he presented an Augustinian model of passing on the faith, grounded in St. Augustine’s communications to Deogratias (A.D. 403) titled “On the Catechizing of the Unistructed.”

Deogratias, a deacon, was having a hard time teaching the faith. He felt that his teaching was being perceived as “boring.” Sound familiar? Augustine responded with his advice for catechetical instruction. Bishop Cupich mined this tradition to speak to today’s catechists. He emphasized the following:

  • the need for the catechist to know his or her subject which means that we each need to strive to know Jesus more deeply
  • the need to know (really know) one’s students and to adapt catechetical methodology as needed
  • the need to recognize prayer as the first duty of teaching the faith and for that prayer to be rich in sign and symbol
  • the need to connect the present to the story of salvation history
  • the need to teach with cheerfulness which he (Augustine) called hilaritas – an enthusiasm for teaching and a love for what we teach and who we teach.

Here is a good article written by Paul Turner about Augustine’s catechetical advice. [UPDATE: article no longer available.]

Thanks, Bishop Cupich, for offering these “proven pathways” for meeting today’s challenges!

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. Just want you to know how much I enjoyed reading the article written by Paul Turner regarding Augustine’s advice to Deogratias on Catechizing beginners. It touched me to realize that the concerns of someone so very long ago are the very same concerns today. How wonderful it must have been to have had the opportunity to attend the NCEA conference. We have no formal training for catechists within our parish, (classes are offered in the diocese) so I hope to pass along your wonderful insights to as many fellow catecists as possible. Thank you for great work. I read all your messages.

  2. Ann, how right you are that the concerns of catechists are perennial!

    I’m sorry to hear that your parish offers no formal training for catechists…they owe it to you. While it is a privilege to serve as a catechist, the formation we need is not a privilege but is a right. There are many ways that such formation and training can be offered, even for parishes with very limited resources. DVD programs like Echoes of Faith are available for purchase or can be borrowed from diocesan media centers. Can your DRE be approached about the matter?

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