A Mixed Bag

Last evening’s session went well for the most part but was a mixed bag. Here’s what I’m talking about:

  • Because of frigid wind chills, I expected low attendance. Instead, I had perfect attendance! While it’s great that they all showed up, I was thrown off…but that’s my own fault for having low expectations.
  • Whenever I have low expectations, the adrenalin isn’t flowin’ so I felt like I was just not hitting the nail on the head.
  • The holidays are obviously getting nearer…the kids were very hyper last night. Overall, they behaved OK but it took a lot more energy than usual on my part.
  • It’s a good thing I planned to process last week’s Learning Stations on the Sacraments of Initiation. They really needed to have the information from that session reinforced in order to retain it.
  • 10 minutes into class, I got a coughing spell and had to step out for a drink of water, leaving my aide in charge for a few minutes. Just a minor nuisance but it added to the strangeness of the evening.
  • The processing of the Learning Stations on the Sacraments of Initiation went pretty well except for the fact that I did a lot of talking and that’s not my favorite way to teach, especially on a night when they were having trouble keeping focus.
  • I absolutely love the kinds of tangents that their little minds can so easily go off on. We chatted briefly about what a Bar Mitvah and Bat Mitvah were and one young fellow eagerly raised his hand. I called on him and he said, “I was watching the Starsky and Hutch movie and this girl was celebrating her Bat Mitvah and her Dad got her a a pony and then Starsky and Hutch showed up at the Bat Mitzvah because they thought the Dad was a drug dealer and they started shooting the locks off of the barn because that’s where they thought the drugs were but the pony was in the barn so they killed the pony instead!” Now how do you turn that back into a discussion of the Sacraments of Initiation?! 🙂
  • Requests to go to the bathroom interrupted whatever momentum I was gaining.
  • The guided reflection I led on the theme of “Emmanuel – God with us” eventually went well after taking longer than usual to get them to settle down and be quiet, which they eventually were. The evening ended very peacefully.

Whew! My head is spinning just from telling the story! Even so, it was all good!

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 www.catechistsjourney.com.


  1. Even “professionals” have nights like that. That is a relief to the rest of us. When I have nights like that I try to remember to say to myself, “We do make a very messy Body of Christ.”

  2. “I absolutely love the kinds of tangents that their little minds can so easily go off on.”

    Yes, those are often the greatest teaching moments. I try to plan my classtime with enough ‘slop’ to accommodate such productive digressions.

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