Stories on the Journey – Not Bad, If I May Say So Myself!

The Holy Spirit accomplishes some wonderful things through our efforts as catechists! So, as we share success stories, keep in mind that we are not bragging about ourselves but are giving praise to the Holy Spirit! With that in mind, let’s spend the rest of this week sharing stories based on the theme of “Not Bad, If I May Say So Myself!”

Share a brief story (in the Comments box below) – just one or two paragraphs -describing a session you taught that went particularly well. It doens’t have to be profound…just a lesson that you thought really hit the nail on the head and caused light bulbs to go on for those you teach. Then, return each day this week to read others’ stories and to comment on them if you wish. You can also go back and comment on stories from previous weeks or to add your own stories.

I’m looking forward to hearing from you! I’ll start the parade with a story about a class I taught that I felt very good about  (see the Comments below).

* All stories posted become property of Loyola Press and may be used in future publications
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. I once had a very successful class that focused on which voices we should listen to in order to shape a good conscience and which voices we need to avoid or “erase” in order to avoid temptation. First, I brought in a mini-cassette recorder and passed it around so that each child could say something which they really enjoyed. I played it back and they all got a kick out of listening to themselves and one another. I talked about how our conscience can be compared to that tape recorder. There are some good voices that we need to keep and some bad voices that we need to erase. I invited them to brainstorm a list of good voices and here’s what they came up with:

    parents, grandparents, relatives, teachers, God, Jesus, Holy Spirit, Mary, the saints, catechists, priests, the Bible and the Church, some friends

    Then, we brainstormed “bad” voices:

    gang members, strangers, some friends and classmates, troublemakers, bullies, some Internet sites, some music, some TV shows

    I felt like this was a very fruitful discussion and that they did a great job of identifying influences in our lives, both positive and negative, and how we need to form our consciences in order to make good choices in life. I shared a couple of real life stories from my own childhood, living in a neighborhood with gangs and watching as one of my best friends in grade school shoplifted from a store. They are fascinated by these real life stories and can see that when I was their age, I faced these very real problems and temptations.

  2. I found myself teaching an eighth grade class that had little respect for, or knowledge of what was happening in the Church during Mass. Being new to the parish, I asked our Priest to give me a tour of the church to explain where everything was and the different tools of the Church. When he asked me why, I explained to him that I was going to pass the information along to my class. He was very eager to see how the class went and offered to give the tour himself (which was awesome because I learned more that way).

    The young adults in my class were the best behaved that I had seen them in several classes, and they asked very good questions. Two weeks later we had a family liturgy that my eighth graders helped out with, collecting the offertory, conducting the readings. When it came time to present the gifts, I walked my students to the center of the church, and I asked each of them to pick up a certain “tool” from the table. They were all able to pick out their item, with no assistance! From that class onward I saw a new found respect out of my young adults whenever they were in church.

  3. I was one of the facilitators at a weekend retreat for a small group of Confirmation candidates. The theme was”Who am I?” In the introductory session I invited them to play a simple game. As they sat in a circle we pinned the names of well know people (local & international) on their backs. Their challenge was to find out their “new identity” by asking thier friends questions such as “Am I male or female?” or “What do I do for a living?” etc. After a short while and much laughter, most of them had figured out their new identities. But I had deliberately included one or two names that they were not lkely to be so familiar with. Just as we predicted, the bearers of these names began to get really frustrated because no one could help them figure out their identities correctly! Eventually when all was revealed, we had a great discussion on the fact that we all need help in discovering our true identity (parents, good friends, church community, God); and of course the frustrations we experience when we do not know who we truly are – beloved sons/daughters of God. It was a great entree for the weekend!

  4. The best lessons always seem to be the ones where the children physically participate. Ash Wednesday lesson comes to mind when the children each blessed each other with ashes.
    Another fun lesson for the children was the telephone Line Lesson. Children in two lines. I whispered something in the first childs ear and they had to repeated to the next child and the last child in line had to repeat it.

  5. I agree with Teresa. Nothing beats “OK you’re paralyzed, lie down; you four, get up here, you’re going to carry him. All y’all on the left are Pharisees, y’all on the right are the crowd. I’m Jesus and I’m teaching. Now what are you four going to do with your paralyzed friend?”

  6. Fourth graders, especially the boys are very interested in competition & sports. For Super Bowl weekend we became “TEAM CHRIST”. Developed cheers, shirts, slogans etc. Went with the idea of “winning” people to our team.

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