Final Installment of Q & A from 9/2/10 Webinar

Here’s the last of the Q & A from our Getting Started as a Catechist Webinar last Thursday, September 2, 2010.


Q: ­how do you deal with parents who take the children to religious education out of tradition but themselves are not practicing catholics? ­

A: Rocio, there’s not much a catechist can do individually other than try to maintain some level of communication by sending home resources that encourage parents to be more involved in their children’s faith formation. Typically, it is the pastor and DRE who are able to arrange the program in such a way as to involve the parents more. ________________________________________________________________


Comment: ­I would suggest to Connie since I have 2 sons that are ADHD and grown, she should speak to parents and ask them how they get the child to behave first and make sure child is at front of group, so there are less distractions.­________________________________________________________________


Comment: ­Connie – we had some children last year that had special needs.  Our DRE made sure that there was an aid in the class – 8th grader who was earning service hours for confirmation.  Having a 2nd person helper eases some of the interruptions, etc….­________________________________________________________________


Q: ­do you feel there is a max # of students per teacher?­

A:Rita, typically, DREs try to maintain a maximum of 15 students per catechist. Since most catechists are not professional teachers, it is not reasonable to expect them to handle a group that is bigger than 15. ________________________________________________________________


Q: ­we meet at a central place and then all come into room together.  how can i get them to settle down and be ready while i am preparing to get class started?­

A: Renee, I would give them something to do immediately to keep them busy, whether that be a worksheet, a quiz, or tasks that assist you in setting up the room and getting ready. Don’t let them remain idle while you are getting things ready. (I’m presuming that you can’t get into your class before the central gathering, otherwise I recommend that you get there early to get your room ready and then head over to the central gathering.)________________________________________________________________


Comment: ­I’ll give his parents a call this week and speak to the DRE further for more information and ideas. I do have an aide, but this is her first year. eek. Thanks for the ideas everyone. This was great help­



Q: ­Would you recommend volunteering as a helper in the class for a year to see if you are suited for this role in children’s religious life?  Then, if you feel confident and comfortable, pursue a more active role next year?­

A: ­That’s a great way to try it out. You will be able to experience the value and perks of working with children and their faith. I think you will like it.­‑



Comment: ­When my students come in, I have little cards that they fill out – prayer intentions and Thank you Jesus for… cards.  They fill that out, put it in our bowl before we start our opening prayer!­



Q: ­What do you think of allowing the students to write in a journal for the last few minutes of each class? I teach 4th grade so I’m not sure if that would be beneficial to 9-10 year olds.­

A: Lisa, journal writing is a very effective tool and I’m sure that children that age are capable of  handling it and benefitting it. You should know that it is best to tell children that no one, including you, will read their journals. If you do read them, then you may find yourself legally liable for anything the child has written related to abuse, suicidal thoughts, etc. Keep it as a personal, prayerful activity.



Q: ­How do you feel about having your own child in your class? My son really wants to be in my class next year.­

A: Lisa, many catechists successfully teach their own children and in fact continue to follow them from one grade level to another. This is a natural relationship since parents are the first teachers of their children anyway. I say go for it especially since your son really wants to be in your class…not all kids feel that way!


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. >Q: How do you feel about having your own child in your class? My son really wants to be in my class next year.


    I had BOTH of my parents as teachers in the elementary school (my father was my P.E. teacher and my mother was my Art teacher). I then had my mother as my librarian in junior high. We did just fine. I just excepted this and called my parents in class Mr. ____ and Mrs. ____ and treated them like my other teachers. Each student and parent is different and how they handle this situation depends upon them. Talk to other catechists and discuss this with them. Good luck!

    • Thanks for your feedback, Amazing Grace. I did explain to my son that I will be his “teacher”, not his “mom” during class. I am going to talk with him about it more throughout this year to make sure he understands that him being in my class does not entitle him to anything special (except maybe a hug or 2 before and after class.) 🙂

  2. Q: how do you deal with parents who take the children to religious education out of tradition but themselves are not practicing Catholics?

    A: I don’t deal with them at all. I am simply thankful that for whatever reason, they are bringing their kids to my class. I hope to get their children so engaged with their Catholic faith that they may gently and indirectly catechize their parents, and possibly spark their return to a more active participation.

    I know this works, because occasionally parents will ask me to elaborate on something from class that their child told them about .

  3. Q: How do you feel about having your own child in your class? My son really wants to be in my class next year.

    My daughter was in my class a few years ago; we had a great time, and the other kids found it diverting. No biggie at all.

  4. Lisa,

    I taught my daughter’s 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th grade classes, and would highly recommend it! Not only was it a great opportunity to share in her faith formation (as well as my own, quite frankly), but it gave me an opportunity to get to know a lot of her friends as well! And it was nice to use my daughter as a sounding board for ideas I had about dealing with topics in class! As long as your son is open to the idea, I think you should go for it! Good luck!

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