Catechists in Action – Nick Begins Class with Prayer

As we continue viewing 5th grade catechist Nick Yonto’s session, we now reach the point where class is formally beginning with prayer. Watch for the following:

  • Nick’s aide arrives with the prayer cloth and they re-arrange the prayer table.
  • The children gather around the prayer table for announcements and prayer (remember, I’m not showing children’s faces in order to protect their privacy)
  • The prayer is led over the PA…the children’s responsorial response is printed on the board.
  • Nick models for the children how to participate in the prayer and then sends them back to their seats to get ready for the lesson.



  • What type of prayer table do you arrange and how is it used in your sessions?
  • Do you lead prayer on your own or is there a communal prayer gathering or a prayer done over the PA?
  • What elements are included in your opening prayer experiences? (song, silence, Scripture, responsorial psalm, reflection, etc).


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. Communal Prayer Planning (alternating with Rosary Service Planning) is a part of each week in our program (Age 3-12). The older kids take on more and more of the responsibilities — they “own it.” I think using the prayers of our faith on a very regular basis (especially the rosary) helps the kids “learn them by heart.” Which seems to work out much better in the long run than handing out a prayer card and letting them know they’ll be “tested next week” so go home and memorize this. Keep up the good work! Thanks for sharing your class with us Nick! Best Regards, Karen

    • Karen, excellent comment about “using the prayers of our faith on a regular basis” rather than just handing them out on a card to be memorized!

  2. I am really enjoying The short videos about the weekly life of a catechist.

    I teach 2nd grade , I have 19 children( there are 3 2nd grade classes ). There is a prayer corner in the classroom I share, as it is a parish school.

    When we come into class after roll is called, I have the children stand and pray. Some times its a formal prayer, some times a reflection, or a gospel reading.

    Last night, as our opening prayer, I had the kids think about someone who has passed away, write their names on a paper and place it in a prayer basket. We talked about All Souls Day and then I prayed the prayer, Eternal Rest..
    We kept their prayer intentions in mind as we prayed together.

    How many children do you have in your class Nick?

    We also close our class in prayer.

    Keep the videos coming, they are great !

    God Bless your class Nick and your program .

    ~ Peace Anne

  3. Thank you for this series.

    I teach older kids.

    It is my perspective that middle school kids get jaded for different reasons.
    As I have seen it, many kids–maybe, as has been argued to me, kids who don’t go to fulltime Catholic school–
    don’t see God as relevant.
    He is like a library you visit when you need research–
    help for a pressing need– but not an every day influence and loving, supportive presence.
    The older kids seemed to have learned that three answers serve almost every question in faith formation:
    “Because God loves us.” “Go to Church and pray.” “We should be nice to one another.”

    It makes me think of a joke I think attributed to comic known as Larry the Cable Guy–
    Larry went to his Catholic friend’s mass and observed the frequent physical activity of standing, sitting, kneeling. He said he had looked around and saw no fat people in church– no wonder, he said, they are always exercising!

    The routine of mouthing words and performing physical motions on cue comes to me and other adults I know without much thought.
    To test my theory and illustrate my point, when the week’s lesson was to cover the beauty and significance the Lord’s prayer,
    I had 8th grade kids stand in a circle. As in a similar Cranium game activity,
    I had each kid take a turn to say just one word of the Lord’s Prayer slowly with a couple of beats of silence in between turns. It was hard to recall the prayer for anybody without singsonging through quickly.

    Because of the above, in every week’s lesson, I weave through the idea that prayer is as a vehicle to get to know God, as the first step to the Greatest Commandment, just as talking is the first step to becoming friends with anyone, every lesson. Whatever the kids’ own takeaway from the textbooks, I hope that from me they’ll remember that God is relevant.

    Having said that, I admit two things.

    1) I haven’t done any formal prayer in class this year– I come up with dynamic group and independent activities to illustrate the chapters and I barely end within 60 minutes as required. I feel badly telling you that. I will make time for it from now on. I like the idea of teaching the rosary.

    2) I don’t do the prayer table. The ceremony and equipment of the prayer table, to me, seems to distance the activity from being obviously adaptable for older kids.
    I know there are excellent arguments against this position.

    I have been inspired by one of the Catechist Journey emails where a priest said something like, “Give the kids a chance to own prayer; maybe your class is the only place they’ll practice what they can ultimately use on their own.”

    So, since the number of kids generally matches the number of weeks, I have told classes everyone gets a turn leading the opening prayer and they have options.
    Either they choose the opening page of the chapter, or they recite a known prayer, or they make up one of their own, or they use my template posted on the hanging newsprint.
    Mostly, the kids choose the template. The template has kid-friendly sentences with blanks and suggestions for those blanks. A quick example: “Hello, God. You are so _______________ (praise). Thank you for _____________________ (something you appreciate.) Today, I hope ____________________ (something for the class or yourself or the world.)
    Thanks for listening. Help me to notice what you say back. Talk to you later!”

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