An Excerpt From My New Book!

Here is an excerpt from my new book, A Well-Built Faith: A Catholic’s Guide to Knowing and Sharing What We Believe:

Shortly after the events of September 11, 2001, there was a great deal of tension between Muslims and non-Muslims in many parts of the United States. In an effort to respond to the situation with Gospel values, I invited the Imam of a local Muslim community in the Chicago suburbs to meet with a number of catechetical leaders from the surrounding Catholic parishes for a dialogue. He agreed and the catechetical leaders were excited to have an opportunity to participate in a positive interreligious experience.


A week before the meeting, the Imam called me and said that he regretted that he would not be able to attend but that he would send a representative in his place, which he did. At the meeting, the catechetical leaders and I listened as this gracious gentleman explained the basic precepts of Islam in a very straightforward manner.  When all was said and done, I thanked him for joining us and sharing his knowledge of Islam with us. I asked him what his position at the Mosque was. He laughed and said, “Oh, no, I do not work at the Mosque. I own a video store on 95th Street!” I was flabbergasted as were those standing nearby who overheard. We thought he was the Muslim equivalent of a catechetical leader or an associate pastor in a Catholic parish. In essence, what had happened was, the “pastor” (the Imam) had invited one of his “parishioners” to speak about Islam in his place!


Could you do the same if your pastor asked you to represent him at a meeting of non-Catholics who wanted to learn more about the Catholic faith?


I’ve asked this question to numerous groups of Catholics, especially catechists, and the number of people who feel they would have the right tools to represent the Catholic faith properly is extremely low.  Why is this? Is the Catholic faith so complex that we cannot summarize it in some simple ways? Muslims can speak of the five pillars of Islam – the five duties required of every Muslim – and Buddhists can speak of the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path,


So, what can Catholics speak of? For the answer to that, we can go to the four pillars of our Catholic faith as outlined in The Catechism of the Catholic Church. If someone were to ask us to explain the Catholic faith to them, we should be able to turn to these four pillars – Creed, Sacraments, Morality, and Prayer – for guidance. When it comes to talking about our faith, these four pillars provide us with all of the H.E.L.P. that we need:


H = We Hold on to our faith that is revealed to us through Scripture and Tradition and is summarized in the Creed.


E = We Express our faith in the liturgy and sacraments of the Church.


L = We Live our faith according to Catholic morality.


P = We Pray our faith by maintaining a healthy prayer life.


With H.E.L.P., we should be able to do as St. Peter urged in his Letter: “Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope.” 1Peter 3:15.




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. Joe,
    I Received a sample of your book just before going on vacation last week and spent some of the quiet odds and ends of the week reading it.(while waiting during my son’s swiming lessons etc.) I enjoyed it so much that I brought it to show my parents at coffee and donuts Sunday morning. They asked to borrow it so they could read it even joking that when I place the order for copies for my catechists that I should order them each a copy so they didn’t have to share.
    I found the chapters thought provoking while being very accessable. (my favorite chapter was the one on the trininty) I love that in simplifying you didn’t remove the beauty and mystery of our faith.
    I love that this book is so accessible and perfect for catechists who already have busy lives… So many of the catechists in our parish are constantly on the run. they ‘re working parents trying to balance home work and the love of their faith. I could see some of them picking this up and reading a chapter in car line or at home before bed and feeling like they can get real faith enrichment even though they can’t always make it to diocesan workshops etc.
    I hope it might even create for some a longing to come to know our faith more deeply.
    P.S. Any plans to do a study guide like you did for the Catechist tool box?

  2. Maura, thanks so much for your kind words! I love the fact that your parents enjoyed the book so much! And of course I hope your catechists enjoy it as much as well. Yes, a Leader Guide is soon to be available as well!

  3. I loved Catechist’s Toolbox!
    I gave it to all of my catechists last year and used the Guide so much that I had to order new copies for myself when I put the order in for this year’s catechists.
    How exciting to be able to give the returning catechists Well-built Faith. I can’t wait for the guide!

  4. Margie, I’m glad you loved the Toolbox and I hope you and your catechists will love A Well-Built Faith just as much!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.