Highlights (Thankfully, Very Few Lowlights!)

Last night was our second Confirmation intensive (a 2-hour session made up of five 10-minute mini-sessions sandwiched in between an opening and closing session in their “homerooms.”) Thank God, things went pretty well once again. Here are the highlights:

  • half of the kids forgot it was an intensive. When I clarified that they were staying till 9 o’clock, a half-dozen cell phones were promptly whipped out to call home to re-arrange pick-up times!
  • the kids were in a good frame of mind…they generally and sincerely seem to enjoy our gatherings. The usual level of giddiness was present, resulting in the usual amount of pauses that I employ when speaking in order to regain their attention!
  • in our homerooms, we began by focusing on our ability to “talk the talk” – namely, being able to articulate our faith as stated in the Nicene Creed. I challenged the young people to memorize the Creed by Confirmation. I hope to follow up on that.
  • in the mini-sessions, they spent 10 minutes with each catechist, completing activities focused on putting our faith into action (walk the walk) – the spiritual works of mercy, the corporal works of mercy (they assembled a mini-booklet with symbols/pictures representing each work of mercy), justice (they took a poverty quiz and then discussed it), service (they discussed their service experiences whether completed or planned), and the Beatitudes (they completed a crossword puzzle with phrases from Matthew’s Beatitudes).
  • the time really flies with the mini-sessions, but they (the sessions) are so focused on a specific theme, that the kids come away with a concrete notion of some basic principles of our faith.
  • Pacing is one of my problems…I typically bite off more than I can chew. My first mini-session went overtime resulting in the next class waiting outside the door. Luckily we allow 5 minutes for movement in between sessions (when it really takes about 30 seconds!) so it was easy to correct my pace and get back on schedule.
  • My other problem is that I’ve been committing one of the “mortal sins” of catechists: I’ve been putting all of the supplies for our activity on the table that they gather around – scissors, glue, staplers, paper, etc. Of course, these become toys for them to play with as soon as they are seated and I expended a lot of energy getting them to leave them alone and to focus. Shame on me! I need to find a better way to have supplies standing ready without having them within reach of the kids.
  • At the end of the evening, I borrowed Mary Kay’s idea (a fellow 8th grade catechist) of requiring each young person to state something that they did and learned this evening. Thankfully, they each provided something, some better than others. A few kids just offered brief answers like “The Beatitudes” or “Service” while a few others said things like “I learned that nearly 20% of children in American live in food-insecure households” or “I learned the difference between charity and justice.” They obviously heard what my fellow catechists said about these issues.

Next week, we have our third intensive with a focus on the number 7:  the 7 deadly sins, the 7 virtues, and the 7 Gifts of the Holy Spirit!  More on that as we get closer.

P.S. totally unrelated, here’s a pic of me from the Loyola Press Christmas party…I grabbed one of my co-workers’ pair of shades and did my best to look cool, failing miserably! 🙂

Joe trying to be cool and failing miserably!
Joe trying to be cool and failing miserably!
About Joe Paprocki 2344 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.

2 Comments on Highlights (Thankfully, Very Few Lowlights!)

  1. Hi Joe,
    On your webinar 2 you mentioned about addressing cell phones up front.
    I didn’t get down exactly what you said, could you repeat it in print or address it to a fuller extent here. It has been suggested that kids have to turn in cell phones at the beginning of class so the catechist doesn’t have to deal with them. What you suggested seems more respectful. I liked what you said something like: “We ask you to turn off your cell phones so …..” don’t remember the rest. thanks.

    • Yes, Barb,I basically said that we can do what many churches do which is to ask people to silence their phones in order to enter more fully into the liturgy. We can tell our young people that this time is dedicated to listening to God speak to us and that we need to remove distractions that may get in the way of hearing God’s voice. Turning off our cell phones is a sign of respect and reverence for the Word of God.

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