Telling Stories on the Journey

Last evening, at our end-of-the-year catechist meeting, my favorite part was when our DRE, Arlene, invited catechists to share stories of highlights or “Aha!” moments from this past year. It was very heart-warming to hear people sharing stories of how they connected with the kids they taught in the past year.

One catechist, in particular, talked about how he made a prayer box for his 7th graders and invited the kids to write prayer intentions on slips of paper and to drop them in the box throughout the year. As soon as he had begun the practice, he thought he would regret it, thinking that his 7th graders would just be writing silly things on the slips of paper. To his amazement, at the end of the year, when he went through all of the prayer slips, NOT ONE was silly…they were all for very serious, touching, poignant issues that the kids were bringing to prayer!

Another catechist talked about how the Associate Pastor’s visits to his 3rd grade classroom became one of the kids’ favorite things and how they asked him to pray for people in their families that they were concerned about. He said it could make you cry!

Finally, a catechist in his 2nd year talked about how he did not enjoy his first year as a 7th grade catechist but came back to give it another try and to really engage the kids. He said that one of the most meaningful activities he did was having the kids create posters about the Beatitudes. Without exception, at the end of the year, every one of his students indicated that the Beatitudes project was their favorite part of the year!

Great stories! Very inspirational and affirming!

What story would you like to tell about this past year?

About Joe Paprocki 2741 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

12 Comments on Telling Stories on the Journey

  1. I really like the idea of a prayer box, I think I’ll do that next year. I had a hard time engaging my kids this year. I teach in our youth confirmation (I also do adult confirmation), we have a 2 year program and stay with our kids for both years. This year was my turn to get a new group and they were a rough crowd! I spent the majority of our class time working on discipline and maintaining control. I tried various activities and teaching methods and still feel as though many of them slipped through the cracks this year. It was getting better towards the end so hopefully next year will be better. I am trying to find new ideas to bring my class to life next year. We will not survive another year like this past one.

    • Jennifer, thanks for sharing. I feel your frustration…that’s very understandable. I’m glad to hear that you were making progress by year’s end. That should give you confidence going into next year. Let’s hope for a more cooperative group!

  2. I closed the year with a class on “religious music through the ages”. When I turned on Gregorian Chants the kids (3rd graders) all seemed to enjoy listening. My goal was to engage the kids on what they liked or felt as they listened to the music while they enjoyed cupcakes. They all had thoughtful comments on how chant made them feel. By the end of the class when we listened to Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy” I had several “conductors” standing on their chairs leading the orchestra. I will try and include more music in my class next year.

    • Bob, Aside from the two mentioned (chant and Ode to Joy) what else did you listen to? I love to incorporate music, and would like to know what else you played for them as you toured religious music 🙂 Great idea!

      • I sang a couple of bits in last week’s post-Easter class:

        Regina Coeli as our opening prayer (preceded by a short intro).

        The closing stanza from Genesis’ “Supper’s Ready” as part of our discussion of Revelations.

        • Christian, you’re a brave man, singing to your class! And, I must say, I am quite impressed with you incorporating part of Genesis’ “Supper’s Ready” into your class!!! One of my favorite songs of all time. Saw it performed live back in the day!

          • “Saw it performed live back in the day!”

            Wow, you’re the only person I know to have done so!

            I’m not a particularly good singer, but I deliberately do it in class to show the kids they shouldn’t be uptight about singing in church if I’m not afraid to do it alone in class.

      • Thank you for the comment. I had also hoped to use Ave Maria as performed by Mariachi Sol de Mexico, but ran out of time! Too bad, a Marian hymn is nice for May, and this version of Ave Maria was to be my “modern” piece. Given time constraints my hope to incorporate a Baroque organ piece by Bach also fell by the wayside. I had previously taught them to sing “Immaculate Mary” for the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. The children liked it so much I wanted to do another music themed class and that led me to this idea. I will definitely take a look at the suggested hymns link Joe pointed us to. Best wishes!

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