An Epiphany "Pilgrimage"

Hi Friends! I wish you a very Happy and Blessed New Year! May 2009 be a year of grace for all of our catechetical efforts!

Yesterday, I spent the morning with 15 catechists (and about 5 aides) at Maternity BVM parish in the West Humboldt Park area of Chicago. If the name of that neighborhood rings a bell, it’s the location where the recent movie, Nothing Like the Holidays, was filmed (a very funny movie!).

Humboldt Park, on the northwest side of Chicago, is a predominantly Puerto Rican community – proud, gritty, economically challenged, and more than its fair share of gangs and crime. Anchored in this community is Maternity BVM parish, pastored by Fr. Tom Pelton, a wonderful priest that I met about 13 years ago. He invited me to speak to the catechists for their mid-year meeting, as they get set to resume classes next Sunday.

I had such a wonderful time meeting, listening to, and speaking with the catechists at Maternity BVM. We talked about the successes and challenges of the year so far and I came away inspired by their level of dedication and commitment. Most of all, I was touched by their warmth…they greeted one another with hugs and kisses! Thanks to Fr. Tom and to Becky, the Coordinator of RE and to all of the catechists at Maternity BVM parish…a shining light in the West Humboldt Park area of Chicago!

We (my wife accompanied me) stayed for the noon Mass which is bi-lingual and features a lively choir with a Caribbean sound…what a wonderful celebration! It occurred to me that, on this day, the Feast of Epiphany, when God’s glory is revealed to all the nations, how appropriate it was to have made this small pilgrimage to a parish that is beyond my usual community – a parish whose ethnicity is different than my own. What a wonderful reminder of how God’s glory is revealed to all the nations. Perhaps making a pilgrimage to a parish of a different ethnicity than our own should become an Epiphany tradition for Catholics!

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Tonight, it’s back to class…our second Confirmation intensive. I should have lots to report tomorrow.

My prayers are with you as you start up classes again after the holiday break!!!

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. Our parish charges $10 per regular CCD student per year. $25 per year for a sacrament class which are all two year programs in our diocese. RCIY and RCIC
    students have to go to regular CCD and to RCIA class. Retreats for Confirmation classes required are two and also charged $25 per retreat.

    Hope this helps Nancy in Puerto Rico. Our classes are 99% Hispanic.

  2. Wow! We have a Christian Formation Advisory Committee as we are no longer allowed to have a “board” per the Archdiocesan rules. This committee has lost some members over the years and we are trying to increase our membership. I am in a parish just outside of Milwaukee, in Waukesha County. Our fees for CFM are $110 per student with a $300 family max for three year olds through Grade 11. We charge $30 for sacramental fees (collected in Grade 2). We have a First Communion Retreat which is optional and at no cost. We have a sophomore retreat which is $35 and a junior retreat (10th and 11th are in our Confirmation program) which is $135, both in addition to tuition. Our teachers pay for little or nothing out of pocket.

    Our CFAC committee presently helps with curriculum and fund raising. We have an active SCRIP fundraising program as well as an annual kringle sale. We are able to purchase additional supplies (i.e., DVD’s, hardware such as a laptop/projector set up, books, AV items, and more) with our fund raising monies. We are very fortunate and very blessed. I know it doesn’t always work for parishes in other parts of the world. However, I have found that if you create and provide the materials for the catechists, retention of the catechists is much easier. We have approximately 800 students in our programs plus another 200 + in our day school so we are dealing with large numbers. Hope this helps!

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