I was deeply inspired by John, one of my fellow catechists the other night. As we were chaperoning the 8th grader’s pizza party after our last class on Monday, we got to chatting about next year. He’s been a catechist for 11 years and has just seen his daughter through his own 8th grade class. It often happens that when a catechist’s last child completes the program, they “retire.” This is very understandable because they often need to devote attention to their children’s high school and college activities. John said that he would like to come back next year even though his daughter is finished. He said his wife is eager for him to have his Monday evening’s free after all these years but that he would like to continue on. He then paused and said, “I enjoy doing this…it’s my…it’s my CALLING!” When he said that, his eyes lit up and his voice was filled with enthusiasm I got the impression that it was the first time he had ever used that word to describe what he was doing. It seemed like a personal revelation for him. And he is absolutely right. We have a calling to serve as catechists. A vocation. What an honor and a privilege!
About Joe Paprocki 2736 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.
Thanks for this posting I think I’ll pass it on to my Dad. He has been a highschool catechist in the parish I grew up in for more than 25 years. He has had the experience of teaching both his younger children and his oldest grandchild. Though I have never heard him articulate his dedication to serving as a catechist as a “calling” I am sure that he feels that it is. Through ups and downs with poor texts and unhealthily large class sizes he has looked forward to each year spending hours reading up on the topics he will discuss with his students. His genuine openess with his students and willingness to take their questions seriously has lead him building life long realtionships with some of those he has taught. It is not unusual to see kids (some now with their own kids) stop and talk to him before or after Mass.
I often wonder what kind of transforamtion the Spirit could bring about in our parishes if we had more people willing to share their faith in such a way.
Maura, thanks for the beautiful and inspiring account of your Dad’s experience as a catechist. You are so right about the transformation that can happen if more people embrace the call to serve as catechists!