More About My First Session

Yesterday, I told you about the first 35 minutes or so of my first session on Monday evening during which time my focus was to ENGAGE the young people. My Engage step normally does not take that long however, being the first night, there was more engaging to do! With the focus on the theme of TRUST, we next moved into the EXPLORE step of the lesson, where we look at the story of salvation and how it connects with the lived experience we just talked about in the Engage step. Here are the highlights:

  • First, the pastor stopped in. This is always a welcome interruption. He is a new pastor and he came in to introduce himself to me and to the young people and I thought he did a fine job of doing so. He was very cordial and outgoing and he engaged the young people in some brief conversation. I thought this showed great interest and support for these young people.
  • I did a brief “book presentation ceremony” to present the young people with their textbooks, telling them that this is not just any textbook but is a means by which we encounter Jesus and so we do more than simply distribute them. I called them forward one at a time by name and presented their book to them saying, “May the Word of God be in your heart.” They behaved quite well for this and it went very quickly.
  • We then immediately opened our books to chapter 1 and, using the ball toss, the young people took turns reading a few paragraphs at a time. I inserted some comments along the way. The article we read was about how our story of creation in Genesis teaches us that God is good, all of creation is good, and that we can trust in the God of our creation who continues to care for His creation. The article compares this to the Babylonian creation myth that teaches that creation came about as a result of a violent battle between angry gods who then enslaved human beings.
  • We spent about 15 minutes focused on this chapter and the content. Normally, I would spend more time on the content, however, being the first night, I had spent a lot of time engaging them and I wanted to be sure to introduce them to the REFLECT step of our sessions, where they go to their “sacred space” for guided reflection.
  • I emphasized to them that, out of the first 45 minutes or so of class, we had only read from the book for about a third of the time. I told them that we are not just going to come here and read from a book for 75 minutes but that we will continue to do a variety of things to keep them going.

Normally, I would want to have the young people DO something with the material that has been read…some type of informal assessment to see if they “get it.” Again, given the time constraints of the first session, I was unable to do this. However, I wasn’t too concerned because the concept – we can trust in God our Father – was very simple.

Next we moved in to the Reflect step. I’ll share about that tomorrow.

Thanks to those who have sent in comments about their first session. I invite more of you to do so. I/we love to compare notes and we learn from one another. In all honesty, I did 4 or 5 things on Monday night that I picked up from other catechists who shared their ideas here on my blog…THANKS!

About Joe Paprocki 2751 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

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