My First Session in Review – Conclusion

I’ve summarized the first hour of my first session that took place on Monday evening, walking through the Engage, Explore, and Reflect steps. Now, the conclusion: the RESPOND step. The goal of the last step of the class is to challenge/invite them to a new kind of thinking and living, shaped by the Gospel.

  • I said that we had just reflected on the goodness of God’s creation and that we can trust God to provide us with such abundance in his creation.
  • I then said that we were going to do a little demonstration about how the abundance of God’s creation was being divided among human beings.
  • I took out a little coin purse with 100 pennies in it and poured them out on the table explaining that they represent the wealth and resources of God’s creation.
  • Then, I told them that we would represent the population of the world. Since there were 9 of us present, I said that I would also represent my aide, Lucy, making 10 of us. I said that Lucy and I would represent 20% of the world’s population and that we get 85 pennies!!! They were none too pleased with this! Next, I picked 2 students – a boy and a girl – to represent another 20% of the world’s population and gave them 1 penny! They immediately began to fight over who gets to hold the penny! Finally, I said that the remaining 6 of them represent 60% of the world’s population and that they got to share the remaining 14 pennies which they quickly grabbed for.
  • I invited them to react to this distribution which they quickly noted was so unfair. One girl said, “So wait, this is how the world’s wealth is divided?” She wasn’t sure if she was hearing it right. I said that this is it and that we folks in the U.S. are part of the 20% who are enjoying 85% of the world’s abundance.
  • I asked what we can do about this. The same girl responded that we need to share! Amen!
  • At this point, they were getting giddy and tired and were still fighting over the pennies which I pointed out is what happens when resources are not shared fairly – violence erupts! I had them return the pennies to the table and encouraged them to share in the coming week because we can trust in the goodness of God’s creation.
  • I then distributed a reminder sheet to them, inviting them to bring in a personal object of some kind for our prayer center and to memorize the first part of the Nicene Creed that expresses our trust in God the Father. It will be interesting to see how they respond to “homework” which I’ve not done much of in the past.
  • At this point, I realized that I was 2 minutes overtime, so I had them bless themselves with holy water on their way out in lieu of doing an actual closing prayer.

All told, this Respond step was about 12 minutes. I was a bit rushed at this point but I still feel like I was able to get in what I had hoped to. They left with a good spirit and I felt that we had accomplished a great deal for our first night together.

I’m off to Houston for their catechetical conference. Come Monday, I’ll share my plan for Monday evening’s class. Have a great weekend!

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.

    Thanks so much for sharing this first week with us! I know (from personal experience) how calming it can be to know we are not alone as catechists.

    We have an added bonus in our parish this weekend. Not only is it Catechetical Sunday when we get to celebrate our vocation, but we also have one of the Deacons in our parish celebrating his 25th anniversary as a deacon and we will be lucky enough to have Bishop Sartain from the Diocese of Joliet, IL there to celebrate and bless us catechists as well!

  2. Hello From Houston Texas,
    Thank you for such a fantastic presentation at the catechetical conference. I told you I would check out your blog and I have 🙂

    I enjoyed reading this particular blog posting, however I am not sure of how you are measuring wealth in society. It seems that you are stressing dollars and cents as the measure of wealth in society.

    I am only 42 years old. However, I have spent most of my life living outside of America. Something that I have learned that other societies measure wealth in the quality of life they hold and not on the amount of pennies we have as in we do in America.

    For instance, while in the far east (Thailand), I noticed that many people in the villages had very few pennies. However, their quality of life far surpassed ours. They raised their own foold (farming, fishing, etc) and they found their satisfaction from being with their families and not buying the latest Prada shoes. While I made in one day what they made in a month, they had a much more satisfying life than I had.

    While living in New Zealand, I found that the average income was MUCH lower than what we have in America. However, they have six week’s vacation, more public holidays than you can shake a stick at, a health care and education system that rivals ours. Yes, it is true that they are making only two pennies to the five I would have made in America, however the quality of life was a dream come true.

    I can site several other examples, but the point I am trying to make is simply this: that we cannot count God’s blessings in dollars and cents.

    As Americans, we tend to judge the world by our own values and put blinders on to what is outside of our boarders.

    • Dear Man on the Moon,

      Thanks for you comments…I had a terrific time in Houston! I appreciate the great feedback!

      As for your comments on my activity about distribution of wealth, it seems that you wrongly assume that I equated wealth with happiness which is what you are describing. I did no such thing. I appreciate you sharing your experience of living in many cultures around the world where happiness is found despite the lack of the abundant wealth we enjoy in our country. We indeed have much to learn from our neighbors around the world about how to find happiness beyond dollars and cents. At the same time, this does not negate the harsh reality that a great amount of suffering is caused by the unequal distribution of wealth (not limited to dollars and cents but to access to resources) in our world. For example:
      -1.02 billion people across the world are hungry.
      -Every day, almost 16,000 children die from hunger-related causes–one child every five seconds.
      -In 2005, almost 1.4 billion people lived below the international poverty line, earning less than $1.25 per day. 947 million people in the developing world are undernourished. They consume less than the minimum amount of calories essential for sound health and growth.
      -In 2006, about 9.7 million children died before they reached their fifth birthday.
      -The four most common childhood illnesses are diarrhea, acute respiratory illness, malaria and measles. Each of these illnesses is both preventable and treatable. Yet, again, poverty interferes in parents

  3. The statistics you gave a really insightful. Thank you for pointing those out. I apologize that I made the false assumption that you were correlating wealth with happiness. Your post says no such thing.

    As those holding the eight cents, we are called to be great stewards of this wealth. As individuals and as a nation, we can help those who fall within those aforementioned statistics. However, it is not simply the mis-distribution of wealth that is the problem. As you mentioned, there are other factors not limited to dollars and cents that need to be addressed. Government corruption, lack of education and violations basic human rights are part of the problem. For instance, the pouring wealth into the coffers of Zimbabwe with minimal oversight has done more to hurt than help. Teaching our students to be responsible stewards with a conscience should be part of our mission statement as CCE teachers.

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