Guess Who My New Aide Is?

For the first 4 weeks of the program, I was working without an aide. Each time the DRE thought she had someone lined up, they would back out at the last minute. (Further evidence that recruiting catechists and aides is one of the hardest parts of the DREs job!). Finally, last night, I walked into class and there was my new aide. I broke into the biggest smile. Let me tell you why.

2 years ago, I taught along with Patti, and we had a rather difficult group of 8th graders. One young man (you can see where I’m going with this!) in particular was a handful. I’ll call him Bob. Suffice to say, Bob was not exactly the embodiement of piety and reverence as an 8th grader! I recall one time when Patti and I were lamenting our difficulties and Bob’s name came up, I half-jokingly/half seriously said, “Watch, he’ll be the one who comes back as an aide in a few years!”

Lo and behold, when I walked in and saw Bob there, I was absolutely tickled. He is now a sophomore at a Catholic high school (says he loves it there) and is more mature, sociable, and polite than ever. I told him I was delighted to have him as my aide and he looked happy, enthusiastic, and comfortable with the kids as the class went on.

After class, the DRE, Bob, and I were talking and I told them both the above story. We had a good laugh but what was “funny” was that the DRE did not remember that Bob was in my class a couple of years ago. She just happened to bump into him recently and he said he was looking to complete some service hours and wouldn’t mind being an aide. She knew I needed an aide and the connection was made!

The Holy Spirit is clearly at work here!

So, don’t lose hope over those difficult students in your class. They just might return in a few years as your aide, as a fellow-catechist, or even as your DRE!

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. Dear Joe,

    I’m so happy that you saw one of your former

    students at class. You deserve the best aide! I would

    have loved to be a fly on the wall, and seen your

    expression. He’s going to be very helpful to you,

    because he learned from the master.


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