Stories on the Journey – First Topic: How Did I Get Into This?

Now that the summer months are upon us, I thought it would be good to do something a little different that will serve to refresh us and get us ready for the upcoming year.

I call it STORIES ON THE JOURNEY.

I thought it would be a lot of fun (and inspiring) to share stories of our experiences as catechists – the joys, frustrations, hilarious moments, sacred moments, challenges, opportunities, successes, not-so-successful moments, creative moments, mentors and heroes, and callings.

Each week, beginning today and lasting through June and July, I’ll post a topic inviting you to share a brief story here on my blog (by typing in the LEAVE A COMMENT box at the end of my post).

  • Keep your story brief – 1 or 2 paragraphs is fine.
  • Return each day to read the stories that others are posting
  • Feel free to comment on one another’s stories
  • You need not share your full name…first names will do

Here’s our first topic: HOW DID I GET INTO THIS? – Share your story about how you came to be a catechist, religion teacher, DRE (any type of catechetical minister).

I can’t wait to hear from you!!!

 

* All stories posted become property of Loyola Press and may be used in future publications

 

 

About Joe Paprocki 2164 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.

52 Comments on Stories on the Journey – First Topic: How Did I Get Into This?

  1. I started assisting in a CCD classroom in 1998, I found it as a simple way to complete my service committment prior to confirmation. I enjoyed working with the younger children and was asked to come back for consecutive years.

    I found myself away from a home parish while I was in the Army, but not long after I joined a parish after settling down without much of a second thought I inquired about a volunteer job as a catechist. Hoping for the younger children again I was surprised with eighth graders!

    It seems to be in my blood to teach of our faith, and I have enjoyed every step of the way. With each class it seems to reaffirm my love for teaching!

  2. I was either a senior in high school or a freshman in college (about 1977-78) when my pastor asked me and my girlfriend (who is now my wife!) if we would teach CCD classes for any public school kids who might sign up. That following Sunday, we enthusiastically waited in the Rectory from 10 am to 1 pm, hoping to sign up a big group of kids. As the hours ticked by, no one came. Just as we were getting ready to give up and leave, a young Hispanic girl – a 7th grader – rang the door bell to sign up. We were so excited to have one student! Eventually we ended up with 3 students – two brothers who were very mischieveous and the young girl who was a model student. We barely made it through the year putting up with a lot from the 2 boys! The next year, the girl came back and we taught her alone for a full year…a wonderful experience! She loved having us all to herself. She became very active in the parish youth group and grew up to be a wonderful person who is now a college professor and a wife and mom. It was such a privilege to walk with her on her spiritual journey. Little did I know at the time that this was the beginning of my own Catechist’s Journey!

    • “The next year, the girl came back and we taught her alone for a full year a wonderful experience! She loved having us all to herself.”

      Wow…I’m just imagining how much that one person learned. I’ve never had less than 18 kids, which brings its own satisfactions, but still, to teach one…

  3. How did I get into this?
    I am a DRE. One day I wanted to help a friend of mine who needed some help in a Relligion Class. I was then told I had the educational backgound suited to fufill the responsibilties of taking over my own class. I was told, ” only temporary”.
    Few years passed and now I am the Diredctor of Religioius Education and all that comes with it. I say, How did I get into this? It must be the grace of God.
    Dolores

  4. I started because my daughter was making First Communion and I wanted to be really part of it. I thought I would just be a teacher helper. But the womean I was
    with decided I should co teach. Then I went with my daughter for thrid grade.
    Let her be alone for fourth and fifth grade and taught 6&7th grade.
    I did take a leave for a few years family reasons. but I;m back again. All total I think this will be my 11th or tenth year teaching.

  5. I was attending a Catholic high school run by nuns and decided to volunteer to help the nums teach on Sunday afternoons children from the public schools. My mom as well as my Godmother were both credentialed teachers and without knowing it instill in me the desire to teach. Some 20+ years later I am still a catechist and for the past 14 years has been a DRE and just love it. I am glad the Lord has called me to this ministry in serving Him in his children. May His name be praised.
    Edith

  6. I received a call from my pastor asking me to be on the search committee for a new DRE. I gladly accepted but upon hanging up the phone thought to myself, “Maybe I should apply for this job.” Following our first search committee meeting I stayed after to admit to my pastor that I was interested in the job. He laughed and shared with me that upon hanging up the phone after our initial conversation that “Maybe I should have asked Joe if he was interested in the job.” That was 8 years ago and I am happy to have found my calling!

  7. I started catechizing with my sister right out of high school and since then have taught off and on for over 18 years-in Hawaii, several spots in Dubuque, Monticello teaching 9th graders about chastity and human sexuality, and at a facility with the severely handicapped. But I was never planning on being a DRE or Dir Faith Formation. With the last name of ‘daisy’ I always believe in ‘bloom where you are planted’.

    I went to college after raising 6 kids and at the young age of 47+. Got my degree in secondary education and history-both world and US. But with various detours I was in the right spot at the right time and listened to that inner voice called the Spirit. I am going into my 5th year and have been allowed to be very creative with my classes and program. I LOVE IT! (this is really a condensed version but now you know why I am where I am-following God’s path for me…. 🙂

  8. This past year our oldest was old enough to begin Sunday School. We signed him up only a week or so before classes started and I asked the DRE if they needed any help (not to teach, just to help) thinking it was close enough to the start they wouldn’t need help. But they did :). So I began assisting in a 3-4th grade classroom. There were a lot of students, who were unruly, so we decided to split them into 2 classes and I ended up taking the 3rd graders. My first year was a challenge, but I am looking forward to my 2nd year this fall.

  9. How did I get into this? About 10 years ago I was an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion at my former parish. One of the 8th grade CCD teachers asked if I would give a talk about the Mass to the Confirmation students and any parents who wanted to attend. I put together a little piece on the history of the Mass, how it has developed and changed over the centuries, and showed them close-up the sacred vessels and vestments used at Mass. After I had finished, one of the two CCD teachers said to me “You must have done well. You went 20 minutes past your alloted time and no one got up to leave, or even complained. How would you like to co-teach the 8th grade class with us for the rest of the year.” I accepted the offer.

    After teaching there for one year, I moved to another parish in 2001, and my wife and I began co-teaching the 8th grade Confirmation class in September, 2004. Next September will be our 8th year as CCD teachers at our current parish.

  10. i joined almost 15 years ago – and when i read “how did i get into this?” i could only smile! i always wanted to join the ministry but was an introvert and very shy. i also stuttered so that was a “good” enough reason not to join although deep down i so wanted. after scraping together enough courage i signed up. i can only thank God today and the catechists whom i started with for giving me the courage and confidence. i always say i have managed to over come by stutter and gain confidence because of my ministry. i have achieved so much in my professional career because of the experience and confidence i gained. in the first year of joining catechetics a little girl went home after catechism and committed suicide at the age of 10 years old. from that day on i knew that this is God’s call for me to bring his little children closer to Him.

  11. After being away from the Church for almost 16years, with the baptisms of our youngest .That got us to return . I felt like I was being called to a be a catechist,I told my newphew who isn’t catholic he said God doesn’t call people .That was the push I needed .That’s been four years ago, I can honestly say it’s the most rewarding thing i have ever done. I am part of a team of of four catechist teaching fourth and fifth grade together. We have about 25 kids. Its a blast

  12. “The deacon’s wife’s serious illness is making it hard for him to teach your adult class… can you do it starting this Sunday?”

    Umm…ok.

    “This year can you do RCIA instead of the adult class?”

    OK.

    “Can you teach 6th-grade Catechism next year?”

    Kids? Ok, I suppose.

    That was 7 years ago. I was surprised to discover I liked teaching the kids better than adults.

  13. In the year 2000, my family lost my maternal grandmother to a long battle with congestive heart failure. She wanted to live to see the year 2000 and she did dying on February 28. My mother, her only daughter, was battling colon cancer at the same time. Her illness was terminal with a prognosis of two more years of life. Almost six months to the day, on August 27, my mother passed away. Five weeks later, my mother in law, who was battling lung cancer passed away on October 5. Needless to say, it was a rough journey for all of us. My daughter, who was 10 at the time, took it hard. She began pushing her father and me away to prevent any more hurt in case we were next. Watching all of this unfold, plus trying to handle my own grief, I had a choice to either run from my faith because I was struggling with the usual questions, or run to it. I ran to it. The DRE called and asked me to teach a class. I had previously, many years before, checked the box to volunteer. It s ironic that it happened after all of this chaos in my life. I did. The rest is history. What a better way to embrace the faith than by sharing it through teaching the children. They have taught me and enriched my faith more than I could have possibly imagined.

  14. Let’s just say that our Lord planted the seed in my heart well before I finally made the leap. I had thought about volunteering in previous years but never did. It was late August the year my daughter was to enter 5th grade. At Mass one Sunday, our DRE was at the pulpit requesting volunteers for Catechesis. I again felt that tug — “should I?”, “should I?” was running through my head. My husband leaned over and whispered in my ear, “You should volunteer, you’d be great at it.” I made the phone later that day and ended up teaching 6th grade.

  15. I love to learn and take classes. Back in 1989, I had just return to my hometown when I saw a notice in the diocesan newspaper for catechist formation classes. The first topic was something that caught my eye – oh and they were being held at MY church. How perfect. So I tracked down the individual in charge at the fall festival and said I wanted to sign up. She said great, I need a 6th grade teacher. I said no, you misunderstand, I want to TAKE a class. She asked if I knew what a catechist was. I answered no. She said a catechist is a religious education teacher. You take the class, you teach a class…. And I have been teaching ever since.

  16. Joe,

    You know my story but I’d like to share it with your readers.

    I was a Cistercian monk for a few years in my early 20s. When I left I moved to a poor, mulit-ethnic neighborhood in Chicago. The local parish celebrated mass in English, Spanish, Vietnamese, Lao, Cambodian,and every once in a while, in a couple African languages. I took a job there as the janitor. I didn’t worship there because I was part of a community of Taize and Franciscan brothers, along with other assorted do-gooders. When the parish DRE left the pastor asked me to take over. But I still had to remain the janitor. So I did both for a few years. Gradually I farmed out much of my janitor work to Vietnamese teenagers. Though I still had to get up at 5AM to shovel snow.

    The brothers moved on and I worshiped at the parish. Eventually We got a new pastor. He fired me because, as he told me, the people liked me more than him. He was a bit insecure. He left the priesthood the next year. And I went on to have a great life as a catechist. I became a great fan of moving on. It’s the best way to remain fresh and learn new things.

    I’m retired now but in a few months I’l be looking for ways to share my catechetial gifts as a volunteer.

    • Tom, so good to hear from you. I love your story and I know my readers will too. Thanks for sharing it with us and blessings on your retirement!

  17. How did I become a catechist? By accident .
    But I did volunteer. . . . to drive children from their farm homes to weekly catechism classes in the small, rural town near the military base where I was stationed. The task sounded simple, but when I arrived at the parish to get my list of children, the sister in charge wanted me to teach first grade instead. After a litany of reasons why I couldn t possible teach catechism, I admitted my religious education ended when I dropped out of catechism in the sixth grade. She didn t blink. You can read faster than they can. I left with a teacher s manual.
    The content was essentially what I vaguely recalled from Saturday mornings with the Baltimore Catechism, and I diligently prepared for my first class. I arrived to discover the children had received new books; books which began with the Gospel account of Jesus blessing the children, Let the little children come to me.
    I could read faster than the children, and more importantly for me, learned with them about Jesus and the Good News of our faith.
    [In the years that followed, I switched my military commission for religious vows, a certificate in catechetics, a degree in pastoral studies and a life dedicated to making Jesus known and loved through retreats, spiritual direction and education in the faith.]

  18. Like Tim, I started assisting in our Religious Ed program to earn Confirmation service hours. A few friends and I ran errands to and from the office, ran photocopies and made holiday cards for the students. We continued even after Confirmation, making it a ritual to go to the children’s Mass and help at CCD on Sunday morning, then make lunch and hang out together in the afternoon at one of our homes. In moments of desperation we became last-minute sub catechists, and the three of us took over the kindergarten class completely when the regular catechist stopped showing up to teach each week. Soon I was planning lessons and teaching the kindergarten, then first grade classes by myself.

    The summer after I came home from college, I got a call from the DRE. “So, you’re going to be a catechist this year, right?”

    I took over the third grade class, and within a year and a half I was transferred to the late-blooming First Communion students in the fourth grade whose catechist had passed away suddenly mid-year. A few years later I was asked to be CRE and take charge of the Confirmation program as well. I was terrified of adolescents at first but now I really enjoy seeing them grow in faith.

    And just maybe, when I have a few more years under my belt, I’ll have the guts to call someone out of the blue and say, “So, you’re going to be a catechist this year, right?”

  19. I went to Catholic School, but decided not to be Confirmed because I wasn’t sure if it was right. My mom always encouraged me to question.
    When I was in college, I started exploring different faiths including my roomate’s faith which was Charismatic. I was looking for young adult fellowship, and a place where I could continue learning my entire life. I couldn’t find that in the Catholic Church. No matter what other Church I went to I missed the Eucharist.
    I became Confirmed and decided I would be the change I wanted to see. I went on to get my Masters in Pastoral Studies and become a DRE. I love sharing my faith with the youth of the Church. I love my job.
    The Church isn’t what I want. But, it has helped me to grow in my faith through joys and struggles. As a staff person, I continue to discern how I can make the Church more inclusive of all and how to help people to grow in their faith journey.

  20. My mom taught CCD most of my life and she often said I might be doing it one day. I thought, me teach CCD, never in a million years. Until my junior year of college I was a History Teaching major and needed some tangible teaching experience. One of my friends whom had taught CCD the previous year recommended I do it and I asked if I could do it with her. She agreed and before I know it I was in the middle of teaching 13 year old 7th graders.

    The next semester my friend due to a scheduling conflict had to step aside and so I after not having taught that much assumed full control. It was a big jump and and demanding especially since I was taking 18 hours of classes and had 100 other commitments to balance. However, it was in this setting I found CCD to be very rewarding and my students were really great to work with. The next year I continued CCD and hope to do it again once I find the time!

  21. For me, becoming a catechist was a pretty natural transition. I’ve worked with kids in a variety of circumstances (babysitting, Girl Scouts) pretty much forever. When I started going to (a protestant) church in high school it was natural that I started helping out with the children’s ministry. As I went away to college and afterwards I’ve pretty much always worked with kids in some kind of circumstance.

    Then as I was preparing to be received into the Church, my sponsor introduced me to our DRE and I started helping an experienced catechist that year, as well as a bit of subbing when people were gone. The next year the DRE asked me if I wanted to teach the RCIA kids class. Next year will be my 4th year with the RCIA kids and I LOVE it! It is kind of a funny little world, somewhere in between the RCIA and RE programs, but I really enjoy having the opportunity to develop a lot of the program. I also think it is a good fit since, coming into the faith as a teen and adult, I remember what it was like for everything to be totally unfamiliar.

  22. I am a DRE and religion teacher at a wonderful school in Mississippi. Saint Anthony Catholic School. It was Gods plan. I taught technology in the schools I have ministered in. I taught RE on the weekends. I always thought it is important for religious to teach religion. Now that I teach religion everyday to 5th and 6th graders I just love it. I know the students love it. That is the nice part. Our school is arts imtergrated and this is the way to go especially teaching religion. The students are much more engaged than when you teach out of the workbook. So be creative, play games, do drama, they love acting. Let them share and discuss, don’t correct them too much. Pray often. God has blessed me to be the DRE and teach at St Anthony. This school has been open for two years. It is full and growing.

  23. How did I get into this? The summer my son was turning 5 and going into kindergarten the DRE at my parish asked me if I would be interested in teaching that coming year. I replied that I would be a terrible teacher but if she needed help in the office I would be willing to put in a few hours every week while my son went to summer camp. I knew office work. That summer I volunteered and continued to volunteer in the fall when my son started school. At the end of that first year volunteering the DRE asked if I was interested in a job there. I took the job part time and saw how much they needed catechists so I took the plunge and volunteered to help out with the Confirmation program which, back then, was taught by the DRE with adults as helpers. I figured I wasn’t doing any teaching so it was safe. Well, that was back in 1995 and I have been teaching ever since. I have taught 1st, 2nd, baptismal preparation, confirmation preparation and even adults. There have been many rewarding moments but the best have been seeing the children I prepared for First Communion receive their Confirmation and then continue to be involved in the parish.
    Just a few weeeks ago one of our youngsters who had just received First Communion remarked to me “I’m so glad I finally received Jesus” . That was just the best!

  24. COMING FROM A PROSTESTANT FAITH I COULD NOT UNDERSTAND 3/4 YR OLDS IN MASS. I ASKED THE PASTOR IF I COULD START A SUNDAY SCHOOL/CHURC H FOR THEM . THAT WAS 32 YEARS AGO AND I AM STILL DOING IT AND AM ALSO THE DRE. IT HAS BEEN ONE OF THE BEST SUGESTIONS I EVER MADE

  25. My son and his family went with me to Mass one Sunday in late summer. This was highly unusual since he is very involved in his Parish as Director of Faith Formation. At Mass, Father talked about the need for more catechists. My son commented that it would be the right thing for me to do. I had recently retired and it really was the perfect time for me to get involved. So, I contacted our Coordinator of Religious Education and that started it all. I have been teaching now for 3 years and have learned so much in the process. I am thankful for the nudge!

  26. In 1986, I was serving as a volunteer catechist, assisting the DRE with PSR, as I had since my children had entered the parish school. Sister called me into her office one day and told me that she would be moving to another ministry in another parish after the following year. She had been with us for 19 years and felt it was past time to move on. She told me that she felt that I should take her place. I told her that I didn’t feel qualified to do this, but she and the pastor had already found a master’s program at St. Louis U. for me to begin the following fall. I spent much time in prayer and decided with the blessing of my husband and children to enter into full time professional ministry. I’m still at it, after 24 years. I’ve had wonderful years, with a few bumps in the road. After leaving my original parish position, I worked in a homeless shelter for 2 years, and then spent 10 years as a theology teacher and campus minister in a Catholic high school. The past 9 years I have been the Pastoral Associate for Faith Formation at our current parish. I really do believe that I have been called by God to each of these ministry positions.

  27. When I started teaching 35 years ago, I knew I wanted to teach in a Catholic school and where I grew up which had become a Catholic Inner City School. The Notre Dame nuns encouraged me to become certified to teach Religion even though my love was Language Arts and Social Studies. After leaving the 4-6th grades and moving onto Junior High, it seemed that I was always asked to teach a Religion class or two in whatever school I taught. Before long, that was what I was always assigned to teach even on the high school level. When the last school I taught in closed, I applied for a Language Arts teaching position. I was not chosen to teach that class but received a call 1 month later to replace a teacher who had suddenly passed away. Of course, it was a Religion class. They wanted a maturer teacher to help the students through their grief who had lost another teacher the Spring before and one student’s mom was near death due to cancer. So here I am 8 years later teaching Religion plus now do PSR 8th grade at the school.

    I have no idea why God has chosen me to teach these classes, or why I am asked to teach Religion. I head the Liturgy Committee at our school now. I’m still trying to figure out God’s reasoning but He knows best. I’m told that I do a great job, but I have yet to see it in myself. Guess I’m planter of seeds and hopefully one day will see the harvest.

  28. Mary Frances: I was asked by a friend to teach CCD but I was scared that I could not
    do it she said I will prepare your lesson plans, just do it. So I began with that for a few weeks and then she said you can handle it yourself, I did and loved it. Moved, went to another parish and became a Catechist there for three years. The DRE left and in my heart I did not want the program to fail as she was excellent. I applied and now doing this for 10 years. I love all the children, parents and catechist. God has brought me great people to teach, share their talents with the children and I am grateful that we have been able to spread seeds of faith year after year. Thank you Jesus!

  29. My son was beginning first grade. I had taught religious education previously but had to quit for personal reasons. When I was registering my son in our religious education program, I kept thinking about how good the Lord had been to me. I kept thinking that it was “pay back time.” So, I thought well I will sign up as a Catechist Aide; however, my pastor told our DRE to sign me up to teach. I am not a teacher by profession, so that really put a scare in me. He had a lot of confidence in me and after much praying, I said yes. So, here I am 24 years later. I taught 3rd grade, 1st year of preparation for First Eucharist for 17 years, and then took over the administration. I had retired from my job and was looking forward to painting my house myself because I had recently bought it, and I do not like white walls. Well, the walls are still white. The pastor at that time asked for my help as the CRE was leaving. I thought nothing of it. My plans would only be diverted for a little while. I will have been here seven years this July.

  30. I teach full time at a 5 day Catholic school in the inner city of Omaha (middle school Soc. St. & Religion) The DRE of my home parish called me and wondered if we wanted some recent used Religion textbooks -only 5 years old-the ones I was using were 15 years old and more so I jumped at the chance of having newer books since we can’t afford to buy any. A few weeks later she called needing a 6th grade Catechist for Wed. nite so that is how I got “called up.”

  31. I have survived my first year as DRE. Wow what a job. I was asked by our priest to take over last summer and I agreed to try it. I have taught for 34 years, but is this ever different. The children are great, it’s the parents that can be the issue. I’m blessed in that our Lord was with me every step of the way and I done good for my first time. The highlights were, of course, our Christmas Play and two sessions of First Communion with a total of 66 children receiving.

  32. The shortened, condensed version…My official catechetical career was launched in the late 1990s when one of our parish priests tapped me on the shoulder (literally) and asked if I was free on Monday nights. Father had a CCD class in need of a teacher. I said ‘yes’ hoping I would be better at teaching these chidren than I thought I had been with my own as they were growing up. It was a great year and I returned for more after that. Eventually I earned a MA in Theology.

    I did not become a DRE until six years ago. Turns out it was the same priest who encouraged me to apply for the position at the parish where I now serve in ministry to God’s people, the younger ones in religious education classes and their parents. It was a little daunting the first year with about 900 students and 165 volunteers, but it was truly a blessed year. It is hard to imagine doing anything not related to sharing our faith with others.

    Thanks for asking.
    Kathy T.

  33. My introduction to becoming a catechist stared after I volunteered for Bible Camp at my church. Our DRE asked me to help out with a group of children that were behind in their religious education (didn’t think I could do it, but I am so glad I did). Since that time (about 12 years ago) I have helped in grades 1st, 6th and now 7th. I have to tell you that being a catechist has helped me stay close to my faith and keeps me challenged to learn more. One more very important thing, I love the kids!!!!!!!!

  34. I had spent a year trying to involve myself in one ministry or the other. However, I found these to be either not enough time spent performing the ministry, or on the other hand where the ministry took up too much of my time.

    Then one day, while looking through a parish bulletin I saw the request that religion education teachers were needed. The director assigned me a first grade class, that while occasionally hard to control I signed up for next year with the same group of children one of whom wrote a note to me on the last day of class stating that “You’re the best.” Needless to say it was several heart felt thank you’s that had me sign up to teach again.

  35. I was a professional teacher until my children were born. When my oldest was in kindergarten, I was at an event in our parish. I think it was an assistant in the Religious Ed program who walked up to me and said, “We need you.” I resisted for two years and relented only because in just about every Mass reading the Lord called out to me. He pestered me, actually. That was thirty three (how ironic!) years ago. I began as a catechist, then became an assistant DRE and now DRE.

  36. My oldest son (who is now 40 years old) was in 1st grade and I brought him to the Religious Education program and asked “Do you need any help?” There was an instant “Yes” and that began my catechetical ministry. The first grade catechist had a large class so I was asked to help her. We both had girls around 8 months old. At that time the class met on a weekday afternoon so we brought our daughters and a playpen and taught together that year. This was a time of real growth in my faith. The diocese offered classes for catechist formation and I took advantage of all the offerings. I continued as a volunteer catechist until I was encourged by the DRE, who was resigning her position, to apply for the job. I was hired and have continued in catechetical ministry as a DRE for the last 22 years.
    It has been an amazing journey! I feel priviledged to have walked with the parents and children I have come in contact with over the years. It has blessed my life.

  37. It was back in the early 1970’s that my first child was school age. I had grown up in a protestant church where I realized that everyone helped out in the church. Our children went to Catholic school but I thought I should still help. I kept teaching forever and even became the CRE for a number of years. I still teach confirmation class and have been able to teach some of my grandchildren. It has been a wonderful experience. Last year I had one of my granddaughters in class. She calls me “grandma” so the whole class calls me “grandma” and I have developed a wonderful relationship with the whole class. I am going to chaperone the kids to the Steubenville conference next week. Being Catholic and sharing it with students has been a wonderful experience.

  38. I was at that point in my life that I felt I wanted to get more involved with ‘happenings’ at the church. I was in a discussion group on The Catechism of the Catholic Church and was approached by this woman in the group to have a cup of coffee after one of the meetings. She turned out to be the DRE for our parish and she asked if I would be willing to help out in the program – hall monitor or something. I agreed and showed up the next Wednesday to find myself assigned as a teachers aid for a 6th grade class. I could not find the DRE so I just found my class, introduced myself to the teacher and sat at the back of the classroom to listen to my introduction as the new TEAM TEACHER. Also I would be handling the class next week as the LEAD TEACHER would be out of town.
    I was being quickly railroaded but as the class that night went on I found myself falling in love with the kids. I was already in love with the subject matter but developed a quick bond with the class. I found the DRE afterwards and gave her a hard stare followed by a big hug and a thank you. My training has been in the area of Education but I ran away from a career in teaching to enter the business world. I now have found my way back to working with kids in a subject matter I am passionate about.
    I have been teaching for about 6 years now and have run VBS programs as well as other youth oriented church programs involved with both RE as well as Youth Ministry. I now find myself applying for a position as a DRE and I can’t think of a better way to spend the rest of my life.

  39. Thank God for my friend who can talk me into almost anything! This wonderful lady is our parish’s DRE and asked me to join the ministry. I was worried that I couldn’t teach something I wasn’t sure I knew completely myself. She had a lot more confidence in me than I did. I was hoping to have the little kids, but of course she had a plan for me and the 9th grade Confirmation preparation class. Next she decided that the Catechists would stay with their class through confirmation (11th graders). My first year was just a few kids. My second year was 10! After that class’s Confirmation, she asked me to take a new group of 9th graders. It’s been great meeting, learning, and sharing with a population I might have never paid attention to! I can’t wait to see what my friend talks me into next!

  40. Our priest of our parish kept pleading for volunteers in teaching and assisting religion classes. Every time he pleaded I felt an urging. I kept telling myself I wasn’t qualified. 40 yrs. ago I’d had some preschool teacher aide training then later worked for a yr. as an assistant teacher aide for 7th and 8th graders. In between I had worked as an aide for other grades. I am now retired. Finally in 2009 the urging became stronger, I thought well I could at least assist. My husband had a degree in teaching but had only used it for 2 yrs. of teaching and decided it was not for him. He went to work in a youth detention center for many yrs.
    When I informed our priest that I wanted to volunteer, to my surprise my husband volunteered also. I thought great I can assist him in teaching the elementary classes. Well to our surprise we were placed with the 7th, 8th and 9th graders. When they asked who was teaching and who was assisting, my husband replied he would assist me in teaching!! Another surprise!! My husband informed me that he was confident that I could do the teaching! Well now we’ve been teaching for almost 1 1/2 yrs, and I find it challenging and rewarding!! I feel now that perhaps I found my calling; funny how things work out!! God has a great sense of humor!!

  41. I’ve been a CCD teacher for 22 years. I got started when my daughter was in first grade. They needed catechists and I volunteered. Always wanted to be a teacher from childhood but too lazy to got to college and get a degree in teaching. I really like passing on my faith to others. I like giving the children something to hold on when things get crazy.

  42. In 1972 I went on a Cursillo and came off this retreat wanting to teach and share the good news! I have taught every year since then and became a Director of Religious education for 15 years. Yes, I am retired now but I still am teaching religious education. I have loved sharing with the youth of all different ages and it has been a blessing to me. It has helped me continually deepen my relationship with God as I travel on this faith filled journey! The youth have always inspired and challenged me. They have gifted me with a deeper friendship with our Lord and opened my eyes and heart to Christ in the world.

  43. I suffer from memory issues, and don’t remember signing up to be a teacher and I don’t remember any education or orientation. My first memory is one Sunday, standing outside a locked door and knocking to get in. After a few minutes we realized we were knocking at the wrong door. We got everything sorted out and although I didn’t initally know what we were teaching, we began the education. Life is certainly more fun riding on the edge. As always, we seemed to learn alot more from the kids then they learned from us. We teach latino children, who are bilingual. We started each class by saying the Our Father. They dutifully followed along until about the fifth class, when one child said they had never heard of this prayer! Another child finally stood up and said, “It’s the Padre Nuestro!”. Now, suddenly most of the class nodded their heads and said, “Oh, now I get it.” And, eventhough, they are bilingual, we could have gone all year without most of the class knowing what we we saying!

  44. How I got into this is probably not very unusual. It came to my awareness as a young mother of a three year old that this son of mine will be asking questions about our faith that I was not very confident I could answer. I am the product of post Vatican II and I do not remember much of my CCD classes of that time.

    It was that realization that caused me to volunteer in my parish as a catechist for the Religious Education program. After one year of teaching 5th grade I was hooked, and flattered to be asked by our DRE to be her assistant the following year! Nine years and a new DRE later I was the parish catechetical assistant. With the professionalization of the ministry hit my title changed to CRE. I have run and expanded the parish’s religious education programs on my own for the last four years. Who would have thought…….

  45. Hi Joe. I thoroughly enjoyed reading these. And finding some familiar names.
    I do a version of this in my parish bulletin as an interest grabber as I try to recruit our final 8 Catechists. See you at St. Julie’s.

  46. Soon after I graduated from university, I returned home and got a job teaching high school kids at my alma mater. I thought that the nun who was then in charge of the Confirmation program could use some help so I volunteered to assist. I knew many of the kids quite well from school so it was easy for me to fit in. But after 3 months, Sister was relocated to another parish, and guess who was left to carry on? There I was with no real training as a catechist – only my love of the faith – and very limited resources to teach the Confirmation Class! That was in 1984! I am still “volunteering” as a catechist! WHAT A JOURNEY IT HAS BEEN!!

  47. Back around 1972, a woman asked me if I would help teach CCD. She handed me the book for the students and said that it was easy to do. I invented my own teaching methods and used the songs from Mr. Rogers who was popular than since I was teaching first grade and figured this could set the scene. Now some 38 years or so later, I have been grade coordinator for our 7th graders also known as first year confirmation program. I rely on the kids in Youth Ministry (many of whom I have taught) to help make the materials relevant to 12 -16 year old kids living in 2011. It is working – the kids seem to like what we are doing and I am still having fun doing it.

  48. Joe! I am in hysterics!!!! I love these stories!!! I am a DRE of 5 years, a Catechist for 18…God is so Good! He has the most amazing way of pulling us in… for me…it was either be a parking lot monitor or 1st Grade CCD Aide….ha!….i do not do parking lots! hahahaha! (I love parking lot attendants…I even do it now as a DRE!!!!) …anyway…1 year as an Aide and I was hooked! I was so in love with the God in my First Grade CCD Book!… The teacher,Vicki Schuster, and I switched places, ’cause she’d rather be an aide…and I wanted to teach this beautiful Story! I have been in every age level, kids, adults….I am living what He gave me…what was buried so deep inside for 36 years came alive in a little room filled with love as only 1st graders can provide! God bless you, Joe for giving us all this great info!

  49. I taught my first catechism class when i was 18 and i did not teach another till i was almost 36 and still did not look at it as a gift from God. I have been teaching now just the First Grade class in PSR for almost 20 years to 1st graders and I truly love what I do. There were so many ministries that I tried, but where I am now is where I know God wants me to be. The children really teach me more than they realize.

  50. When my daughter (who’s now 30) was in the CCD program, there was a need for assistants. Since I typically sat in the car the entire time, I volunteered thinking I’d be at her grade level (4th) or perhaps even lower. I was tossed to the lions…I was sent to 7th grade to assist a woman who left two weeks into the program. Talk about your Baptism by Fire! I held that position for a number of years, moved on and moved away from my faith. When I moved to a small town to live near my sister, I had grandchildren who now attended CCD. I’d sit in the hall and wait for them and was often asked to sub or help out in the office. My sister and I started teaching the 1st grade class 2 years ago. Every year has been a challenge and a learning experience (especially this year, we have 8 jittery little boys in our class!). I also help out with VBS and just where ever I can worm in. I love what I do. I grew up knowing that Jesus was my friend, and I’m trying to introduce these children to that same life-long and life-giving friend.

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