A Call for HELP!!!

Working Together Teamwork Puzzle ConceptI received the following email from a volunteer catechetical leader named Barbara who is in need of our help and support. Please offer your suggestions by leaving a comment at the end of this post (click be”Leave a Reply”). Thanks!

Hi Joe:I am DRE in a very small parish in the Diocese of Allentown, PA. We have approx 100 children in CCD. The parents are lackadaisical at best regarding their children’s faith formation.We hold CCD on Sunday mornings between the 2 masses (9:45-10:45 a.m.).My problem is that as of right now, I have teachers for only 2 grades (8th grade Confirmation and a couple who are teaching 4th, 5th and 6th – and would prefer to only do 4th) They have been doing a favor this year and teaching all 3 grades.I plan to send a letter to all parents explaining our difficulties and asking for volunteers to teach. I’m not very hopeful as last year I personally asked people and got no volunteers.

I am basically a volunteer DRE so I need something that would not take vast amounts of time or money. My priest is also not very supportive. We presently have 10 families homeschooling and he was supposed to meet with them once a month and never met with any. If we were to do more homeschooling, it would be on me to meet monthly with parents and children.

I am at a complete loss and am just fishing for anything to help me out with providing children with faith formation. I know of some churches that do “faith festivals” on a monthly basis and was just wondering if something like that would work.

I have learned so much and gotten great ideas from the site, but I’m basically a one-woman part time show and need to be able to work within those constraints.

Thank you in advance. Barbara Braun

About Joe Paprocki 2557 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.

37 Comments on A Call for HELP!!!

  1. Barbara,

    My thought would be to look into the model used in Zorritos, Peru (and other places as well, I’m sure): Teach the parents, and have them teach the kids.

    Based on what you’ve said, I’d offer three classes. The confirmation class, you teach early-years sacramental prep, and your third couple could offer the class of their choice with limited-slots registration. [If other volunteers come forward, they can offer classes as well.] The kicker being that for the sacramental years, it is the parents, not the children, who attend class. They turn around and teach their children during the week what they learned from you on Sundays. If you can find some room monitors, you might show a religious video in an adjacent room for the kids to watch while their parents attend class.

    I would direct parents who want to homeschool the off years, and who want more support than just being handed a book, to look into the religion course plans offered by Kolbe Academy (kolbe.org), or some of the other Catholic homeschool programs. You could offer to consult with parents who need help choosing a suitable program, and to take questions if there’s something they don’t understand in the curriculum, but limit yourself to that. You might set some specific office hours when parents can meet with you as needed. Many parents won’t need the monthly meeting anyhow.

    Rather than a formal curriculum, some parents might want to take a year where all the kids in the family listen to read-alouds from a children’s Bible, or spend a year discussing the Sunday Gospel each week and then reading one saint’s life — it isn’t necessary for religion to be complicated or overwhelming. For accountability, if that’s a concern, how about having parents just write up a quick summary of their plans for the year?

    Based on what you’ve said about volunteers, I would not plan on doing the festival format. We have done many homegrown one-day and half-day special programs, and they are very volunteer-intensive. For the size group you are talking about, for a 4k-5th grade program we used probably a dozen solid, responsible, knowledgeable adult volunteers, and as many again of parent-chaperones and teen volunteers.

    Good luck, and I’m interested in seeing what others suggest!

    Jennifer.

    • Generally, parishoners 1) feel they are not qualified to teach CCD; 2) think someone else will do it; and 3) often are only interested in sending their children to CCD in order to receive a sacrament. Does your diocese have any guidelines about sacramental formation and is your parish following those guidelines? Does your diocese have a sacrament curriculum?

      I agree with previous comments not to sound desperate. However, be blunt. Tell the parishoners, if there are not volunteers to teach CCD, there will be no sacrament preparation, period. One person cannot do it all and don’t try to either!!

    • If you presently charge for the kids to attend the program (as our parish does) you might offer that any parent who will teach can have their child attend tuition free.

      Once you get teachers, it might also help if you have weekly coffee group to discuss how to do the teaching for the week. If parents know they are going to have this kind of group support, they might be more willing to get involved. And it will make things more fun for you as well.

      Best of luck to you in your venture!!

  2. This is quite the problem. I’m a catechist, not a DRE, so my view may be less comprehensive. If I had to find catechists in my parish, I’d:

    Talk to who runs RCIA. They may be able to recommend some motivated new Catholics and/or more experienced Catholics who were sponsors. At least here in the South lots of our new converts have read themselves into the Church, and are often even after one year better able to catechize than dozens of indifferent cradle Catholics.

    Also check with any Bible study groups, motivated adults will coalesce there. Also any young adult social groups. A couple of homeschool parents who are friends might team-teach a class. Catechizing isn’t their typical shtick, but Knights of Columbus guys might be willing to be assistants. Do you have any Opus Dei people? How about lay Franciscans?

    The parish secretary might be able to point out some under-the-radar individuals that you don’t know.

    Generally if people haven’t catechized before they’ll seek safety in numbers, so pitch newbies about team-teaching.

    • Those are great suggestions, unfortunately, with the entire parish only having approx. 400 families, we don’t have many of the things bigger parishes have. The priest teaches RCIA, we don’t have Bible study, etc. I could approach the Knights. Team teaching might be an idea though.

  3. This is not your problem to handle alone, actually, if you are a volunteer yourself. The pastor bears some of the responsibility. He needs to make it clear – from the pulpit if necessary – that he supports you in your search. Ask him to help you by suggesting people he thinks might be good at being catechists – and ask other people in your parish for their picks as well. In other words, have the community help you discern who might be a catechist. Then, try a personal invitation – mentioning that their name has been surfaced by the community as a person who might be a gifted catechist. And, as Christian suggests the motivated adults are your primary pool… not just the parents.

  4. I wonder if you can put an appeal about the need for catechists in your church bulletin every week until you get volunteers or the start of next school year.

    Try to attend parish committee meetings and talk to the members for a few minutes about the need for catechists.

    Since you said that you are short of manpower, the monthly faith festival. might be too difficult and just result in more frustration. Take advantage of the other events already scheduled in your parish. Attend them with your other catechists. Mingle and find out your fellow parishioners’ (young and old) interests and talk to them about what you do as catechists and how it helps you in your daily lives. Entice them! 🙂 Handout flyers or brochures that will highlight the reasons to be a catechist, benefits of being one, what it takes to be one, etc. If space allows, you can also ask to put this info in your parish bulletin.

    Would it be possible to include this need in the weekly Mass intercessions?

    Christian mentioned Secular Franciscans in the previous post. That is a great idea. There are several local fraternities and you may not find one near you but the members don’t necessarily live in the same area where their fraternity meets – they may come from all over the region. So, just email or call the Regional minister and ask her if she can send out a message about your need for catechists to her fellow Secular Franciscans. You can find her info here – http://skdsfo.org/.

    Check out mycatholicfaithdelivered.com. Create an account and try it for free. See if it will be an option for your homeschooling families and/or for the levels where you do not have catechists.

    Don’t lose hope! The right people will come at the right time. I’ll keep you in my prayers!

    I hope this helps. Peace and all good!

  5. Barbara, I recommend that when you make your pitches for catechists, that you avoid sounding desperate. If people pick up the message that nobody ever wants to be a catechist, they will conclude that there’s a good reason not to. Take the positive approach and continually invite people to embrace their baptismal call to serve and spread the Gospel. Get your current catechists to share positive reflections about what being a catechist means to them. Invite people to take a look at some of the resources here on my blog for those considering becoming a catechist such as the Top Ten reasons to become a catechist (https://catechistsjourney.loyolapress.com/2009/08/13/top-ten-reasons-to-become-a-catechist/) or the Getting Started as a Catechist Webinars (https://catechistsjourney.loyolapress.com/webinars-2/view-past-webinars/)

  6. Hi Barbara!

    I feel your pain. Even with the best volunteer catechists, a sudden job change can leave you without an adequate number of teachers for your classes, and I hate to lean too heavily on the dedicated volunteers as much as you do.

    I do feel, though, that you might be overlooking a gold mine. Call up your home schoolers and see where they are with their own programs. Most folks who home school make great volunteer catechists. Invite them to share their faith, not only with their own children, but with the children of the parish. Don’t overlook the homeschooled teens. Very often they have been helping to teach the younger siblings already. Pair them with an adult in the classroom, and watch them bloom as catachists themselves.

    I will keep you in my prayers!!

    Avis

  7. Barbara:
    Are there any other churches in somewhat close promimity to yours that you can put out a notice in their Sunday bulletin?
    You might catch someone who would like to get more involved but for whatever reason (timing, too many volunteers etc. ) isn’t able to do so at their own parish.

  8. Barbara,
    God bless you! It’s a challenge being a volunteer DRE and having 100 kids in your program. It sounds like you are working very hard to make this program be the best it can be – be encouraged! The suggestions provided here are very good. One that has not been mentioned yet is to bring it before the Lord in prayer. Maybe pray a Novena to the Holy Spirit to raise up catechists. Ask the Holy Spirit to speak to the hearts of those you are going to be asking whether it’s a personal invite (which is the best) or a response from a bulletin announcement.

    I would not recommend being overwhelmed by attending lots of meetings to find catechists (usually the summer is a slower time in many parishes which makes things more challenging). Since the pastor is the shepherd of your parish you have to rely on some element of support from him because otherwise you could be very discouraged about things.

    Blessed Charles de Foucauld was a holy and faithful disciple of Christ but he did not recruit/have any followers to his religious community while he was alive. Don’t be discouraged, you are doing your best and I know your efforts and faithfulness will bear fruit.

    God Bless you!

  9. Barbara,
    First of all, pray. Ask the Holy Spirit to assist you in your search. Next, you’ve been given many good suggestions already – try the one you think will work for you. I would add the following suggestion: Do a couple of weeks of bulletin announcements, calls, etc., but invite the people to “come and see”
    meeting making NO commitment for now. have textbooks, guides, resources, etc.
    out, along with coffee & cookies (or whatever). After some mingling time, share with them how and why you got involved and how it has been a blessing to your life. Have a simple lesson planned – on one of the commandments or sacraments, for example – and show them what the lesson would be like. Many folks don’t realize what wonderful aids there are to help them “share their faith”. Then pray together, ask them to pray, and tell them you’ll contact them in a week or so to see if they would like to help out. Getting older students to serve as aides with them or team teaching (which has already been mentioned) are also great ideas. The fact that the number of students you have is not overwhelming should mean that class sizes can be small and manageable.

    Regarding the sacramental class, check out “Growing Up Catholic” online. They have put together a program (6-7 weeks for each sacrament) where the parents teach their children with your coaching. I’ve used it in a modified fashion as a supplement to the classroom sessions as a wonderful way to get parents involved.

    I’ll keep you and your parish in my prayers. Peace.

  10. Barbara,
    These suggestions are all great ones. I just wanted you to know that you and all of your “children” are in my prayers. Every time I am short on teachers, God provides and sometimes the most reluctant turn out to be the most dedicated! I would also suggest polling parents to see if home study or on-site classes are their preference. Whatever choice they make takes a commitment on their part. A good old dose of Catholic guilt doesn’t hurt either…just kidding! (:

    • Every other year, God did provide me with teachers at the last minute. This year was the exception. Our parish is going through a very difficult time with people being very unhappy with many aspects of the parish. People feel the priest is just biding his time and does not want to get involved with anything and therefore, no conflicts are resolved and people are leaving.

      • I’m so sorry about that as that situation does make it so much harder on you and everyone involved. We also combine grade levels because of classroom space. So if you can find anyone to teach, you could combine K/1, 2/3 and so on. There is a great benefit in having all ages together in that older children have so much to offer the younger ones. I also use older teens with an adult and the children respond so well to them.

  11. God bless you for volunteering you are a light to others. My suggestion for a small group like this, especially if you are able to meet at one time, is a multi-generational progam. There are resources that are lower cost that standard textbooks, based on the Sunday lectionary readings. The Loyola website for instance has some good gospel resources for various age groups, there are also some you can purchase such as Pflaum Gospel Weeklies, celebrating the Lectionary from LTP (can be costly for a small parish), or for even less cost, reproducibles tied to each liturgical cycle A, B, and C such as those from 23rd publications.

    you simply insist that at least one adult accompany each child or family. There is an opening for the whole group. hopefully they have just heard the readings proclaimed at Mass, or you can begin with proclamation of the word. Then split into groups

    either families with children of similar ages –primary, elementary and middle school form groups, or you make up groups by age, including and adult group. Do the reflection and activities based on the readings. Supplement with a teaching on a doctrinal topic according to a plan (Pflaum has a book of basics of the faith for each age level that is free with subscription). You again can use textbooks you have for that.

    come back together with the whole group for a family activity, craft, sharing etc and closing prayer in time for the next Mass.

    not ideal but there are plenty of resources out there, including those intended for RCIA, which help you tie the lectionary readings to the doctrinal content from the catechism.

    this way you need one facilitator for each group. The parents are participating, so they learn to see the needs first hand. When they realize there will not be age level classes until they volunteer, they will be more will to do so. Also after a year or so of this format, they will feel that they are learning and so more able to teach a class.

  12. Ask your pastor if he’ll allow you to address the congregation from the pulpit at the end of Mass (or before). This is a combination of a couple of pulpit pleas I make. It can be adapted as needed:

    Good morning.

    My name is ______. I am here this to tell you about an important ministerial need and opportunity in our community.

    We are blessed to have ______ dedicated adults who have answered the call to share their faith and pass it on to our parish children, the children who ARE the FUTURE of the Church.

    These people are moms, dads, grandmas, grandpas, bankers, factory workers, people who have made it a priority in their lives to pass down the Catholic faith to our parish children.

    These people are YOU!

    At this time we are still in need of a few more people to help in our religious education program.

    We are looking for:
    (mention the areas and days and times – especially If you have more than one session)

    If there are a couple of people who would like to just “GET THEIR FEET WET” we could use an assistant in the _______ (grade) ______ (time).

    Now, you’re probably all thinking of some excuse why you CAN’T teach, I can’t be a catechist.

    By the mere fact of your presence here today each of you is a person of faith. You have wisdom, faith, and life experience that is just waiting to be shared with our students.

    It is not only the students who benefit from this gift of love.

    We have had catechists come back to us and tell us that when they began ~~~~ they thought they were here to just teach the children. You will be surprised HOW MUCH the children will teach YOU. They are full of such awe and wonder of our faith.

    When you become a catechist, it gives you the opportunity to deepen YOUR OWN faith. In essence you gain so MUCH from the experience. It brings you into a closer relationship with God as well as an overwhelming sense of joy as you share your faith with the children.

    Perhaps you feel that you don’t know the faith well enough. Well, none of us knows everything and we provide all of the teaching resources you could ever need. Besides, Father is also great at answering questions!
    We have a wonderful catechist community. We support and help one another. We/I are always there for you.

    Maybe you’ve been considering stepping forward but you waited until someone else filled the gap? God calls us in many ways. I KNOW that today God is calling the kind hearts that our Religious Education program needs to fill these open positions. I know that God has touched the hearts of at least ________ (fill in number of catechists needed) people who have so much to offer to young our people.

    Won’t you answer God’s call?

    I’ll be in the back if you’d like more information about any of these positions.

    Thank you and may God Bless you

    In Addition:
    Make a Poster for the Back of the Church
    I also make a poster of the various classes we offer and put the name of the catechist beside each class (people LOVE to see their name in print, the affirmation is great). When I don’t have a catechist I put a blank line with the quotation, “Does your name belong here?” (I think this is called Catholic Guilt?)

    Add this quote in large print:
    “God doesn’t call the qualified
    He qualifies the called”

    Add to the sign:
    Job Benefits:
    Friendly co-workers
    The experience deepens your OWN faith
    All materials, training, and support supplied
    Parish prayers and support
    Free tuition for children of catechists (if that’s possible for your budget)

    • I took our diocese’s 3 year course to become a Pastoral Minister and my class had that exact quote as it’s motto. It’s my favorite.

      I am going to use what you said when I speak at the Masses. I had already planned to bring the books we use (we did start using the Pflaum gospel weeklies this year).

  13. Barbara,

    Many a DRE can equate with your dilemma.

    Experience has shown that surveying those already involved in the parish in some way about who MIGHT be a good candidate for a catechist is a great beginning. Once you have a few names, start calling them individually, introducing yourself, and mention “Your name came up as an individual who would make a wonderful catechist for our children in faith formation. Tell me a little about your family…..or whatever….” and proceed with the conversation. If the person eventually says they aren’t interested, ask them who they might know…..etc…..etc.

    You don’t mention how long you have been at the parish….if for a while and you know many parishioners, attend the 8:30 am (?) Mass and observe. Who has a special love of the Eucharist? Who is always there? There are many retired, young adults, young marrieds looking to be more involved in the parish. They just need to be asked.

    This is perhaps one of the hardest parts of our ministry over the summer…
    Most of all, pray to the Holy Spirit to help you find His people to teach the children. He will in time….it just takes great perseverance, but once your catechists are in place you have most of the battle won! And offering them encouragement and training in a catechist community helps make for great friendships and great teaching!

    God bless, and good luck!

    Laura

  14. Barbara,
    I agree with Joyce that this is not your problem alone – it’s a parish problem and they need to show their support for you. Your pastor also needs to be more supportive. First of all: pray, pray, pray – the whole parish. Put your needs into the weekly petitions, in the bulletin for prayer and if you have any prayer groups, ask them to pray for your needs as well. Secondly: get your pastor to help you out. He can announce it after all Masses and why not get him to personally invite people he knows to come forward to volunteer. He must know more people than you and what gifts they have to share. Put out flyers that have comments from your catechists about the joys of teaching. Offer a couple nights of catechist training for beginners and go through the intro to the catechist’s manual with them. Get a few copies of Joe’s book, “The Catechist’s Toolbox,” and let new catechists borrow it to read. It’s full of suggestions and help for new catechists and it’s an easy read.

    If all else fails, perhaps you need to have all kids homeschooled using one of Loyola’s books and then once a month have 2 meetings – families must go to one or the other. These could be 2 different days or one day, 2 time choices. At the meetings, you have the few volunteers go through the kids’ books to be sure they are keeping up with the work and doing a satisfactory job. You use the time with the parents to go over what the next unit will involve, make suggestions for extra materials they might use or family activities they might try – basically you are preparing them to teach their kids. The kids can be involved in a review activity from the previous unit, a movie, or such (groups can have different age levels with the older kids help the younger- training them to be future catechists), and then have the families and kids get together for an activity that they can do together. You could have age appropriate activities for the same theme, so families with more than one kid will be doing similar things with each child.

    And get your parish to pay you for all your work! You deserve it!

    • Your last paragraph is basically what the Diocesan homeschool rules call for. If the parents homeschool, someone (either the pastor or myself) must been once a month with them to check the progress. This would most likely fall on me, as this past year, the pastor did not meet with any of the homeschoolers. This was not really a problem, because the people who were homeschooling I know personally and know that they would be doing a great job (with the possible exception of one or two families).

  15. HI Barbara,
    We know the feeling of trying to get volunteers also our programs are shrinking by the minute. I told our DRE to add begging to one of her attributes on her resume, because she has to beg people from the pulpit for there is not enough volunteers.
    You have brought to light a huge problem for all of us not enough teachers, volunteers or resources etc. I am a certified teacher and have 4- 6 years of training before we enter a classroom. Teaching is very intimidating especially for people who feel we know so little about the subject of our FAith. The books used are not lesson plans and in the classrooms we need real direction especially for the volunteers without teaching experience. In public schools and even catholic schools there is a curriculum. WE need sound curriculum to have successful programs that teach sound catechesis. Without sound curriculum, we cannot I repeat cannot teach anything. Can you imagine sending your child to school and the schools said we don’t have a curriculum we have a book though. ( and this is the response we get as a Faith formation teacher trying to get a curriculum so we can teach and have a lesson plan. With so little volunteers we need to keep in mind God chose just 12 apostles that changed the course of history. (that is comforting to me as a catechist). Many faith formation programs have Vacation Bible school programs that run in the summer they advertise AWESOME ADVENTURE filled with virtues and verses from scripture. Make it fun! Learning about God is amazing. The flyer advertisement goes like this

    VACATion BIBLE School AWesome adventure. EVerything is possible with God. Each day the kids will hear bible stories, learn songs, play fun games, participataed in a project that will help children show Jesus love to others, collect Bible Memory Buddies, create fun crafts. a wonderful opportunity for fun and faith. This is what the curriculum needs all year not just in the summer months to keep our FAith exciting and use all of our gifts and talents.
    This is the year of Faith:
    WE need sound catechesis to ensure our children not our future but they are are NOW of the church,
    are equipped for the 21st century spiritually. We need to check our spiritual finances in our FAith formation program and put all of our resources into the building block of our Church EDucation and FAith Formation the basis of our FAith.
    Barbara have Faith go to ADoration as often as you can And All things are possible with God!
    God Bless,
    GRace

    • The Diocese actually has a very detailed curriculum for each grade. There is pretty much no way we could get through the whole thing in the amount of time we have. We have changed books, from Finding God, which was great if there was a basic understanding, but we found that it was above the children’s level. We have gone to a basic Catechism book from Pflaum along with the gospel weeklies. It really can’t get much simpler, and we are pretty lenient about using ideas from websites, etc.

  16. With 100 children that sounds like a BIG job to keep them involved, notified and engaged. I would suggest Whole Community Catechseis where everyone is learning and sharing together and would engage the parents and parish in the process. Coaching parents is an element that all the major publishers are encouraging. I used the Frist Reconciliation and First Communion maeterials this year form twenty Third Publications – Pastoral Planning Center and the parents really loved working with their childrn, learning and sharing and growing in faith. It was one of the best years for us for the preparaton. doing Seasonal events and activities in which all the Faith formation families and parish households are invited to attend and participate in may also assist you in encouraging and engagning them. Advent, Christmas/Epiphany, Lent, easter/Pentecost, Summer VBS, Parish feastday… with emals and activities together and with specific age appropriate group and prayer seems to also work. There are a lot of programs already with materials and handouts preparaed so you don’t have crdate from stratch. Oprotunities for catechists working as a team so no one person has to do all the preparations helps encourage new catechists.

    • I have suggested VBS, but it has been turned down. The Lutheran church in town has one that most children attend (no matter what religion)

  17. Thank you all for the wonderful responses.

    As I am sure some of you are aware, quite a few parents use CCD as a weekly babysitting service. I have had parents not know who I am when I see them, even though their children have been attending CCD for a few years already. I have been DRE for 6. Unfortunately, we are at the very furthest part of the Diocese (I laughingly call us the “forgotten zone” whenever I am at a Diocesan function) so classes, etc. are usually an hour’s drive away. CCD also seems to be at the bottom of the list when it comes to the other parish functions – the Knights schedule their free throw at the same time as CCD, the parish council has been downright mean to me when I attend their meetings, they schedule breakfasts, using up where 3 of my classes meet without letting me know – I have to read it in the bulletin and rearrange things. That is part of the reason that 2 of my longtime teachers have decided not to return – lack of respect for the CCD program by parents, parishioners, etc. I am in touch with the CCD person in charge of the Diocese, but they don’t quite comprehend. The other problem is that we are a very small town, isolated from other towns by at least 8 miles.

    Prayer is going to be the number one thing I institute – it’s the best (and costs nothing so no one can complain). Posters and bulletin announcements. I do plan on driving home the point of the benefit to the catechist. Perhaps I can have a small booth at the annual festival with various books and materials.

    Thank you all again – I knew I could count on you. I will take some of these suggestions to my pastor and see what he says. I think getting the parents involved is also key – maybe teams and not being committed every week. I will digest all of this and keep all of you in my prayers.

  18. Barbara, I feel for you. We had one year where there were no teachers in August and the Pastor told the DRE that he’d take all the junior high and high school kids if she’d take all the younger ones. Teachers showed up eventually but they were more relaxed in their search because they had a plan.
    Do you have a local DRE organization? They can be a great source of collective wisdom. Do you have any religious in your town or the neighboring towns? We have Sisters of Mercy with various jobs throughout the diocese but some of them take time to teach CCD on Sunday mornings just because they enjoy sharing their faith.
    Getting the respect of the parish is an issue also. I have DRE friend who reminds me periodically that if we dress like professionals we will be respected as professionals.
    Teenagers get a real kick out of teaching the younger children and can learn a lot just by teaching. I agree with making the parents responsible for Sacramental Prep and “Growing up Catholic” is a great resource for that. I also agree that “The Catechist Toolbox” can really help any new catechist!
    Good luck and God bless.

  19. Hi Barbara,

    I agree with Joe and others on not to sound desparate – stay away from the word “need”. A good recruitment message has these components: 1. Tell the story 2. Let people know how they can help and the impact they will make. 3. Let people know how they themselves will benefit. 4. Let people know what you will provide such as training, resources, etc. I have three examples of what I have used below – your numbers will be much smaller, but you can adapt these if you find them helpful. I also find surfacing names and personal invitation through letters of call sent with position descriptions very helpful. The letters of call and position descriptions give people time to pray and reflect before you follow up with a phone call. Amazingly, they work! I have also sent a more general letter of call to parents along with personal letters of call to specific people. Feel free to contact me at mmarschall@epiphanymn.org (note marschall is spelled with an “sch” and I can send you samples and would be happy to anwser questions if that would be helpful.

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    Boldly go where many have gone before and help pass on the Good News of Jesus Christ and our Catholic faith! This fall, over 800 children and young people, preschool through grade 12, will sign up to learn more about Jesus and the Catholic faith. At this time, over 130 of these children and young people have no catechist to teach them. You can help by becoming a catechist for Faith Formation. As you nurture the faith of our young, you will learn and grow as well! As one long-time catechist put it, “I learn so much from the children!” We provide you with training, materials, and support. Classes begin September 21. If interested or for more information, contact…

    Pass It Forward!
    Over 800 children and young people, preschool through grade 12, will sign up this fall to learn more about Jesus and the Catholic faith. You can help them learn and grow by becoming a catechist for Faith Formation. With classes offered Sunday mornings and evenings and Wednesday afternoons and evenings you are almost sure to find a time that fits your schedule. As you nurture the faith of our young, you will learn and grow as well! As one long-time catechist put it, “I learn so much from the children!” We provide you with training, materials, and support. Classes begin September 21. If interested or for more information, contact …

    Pass On the Good News!
    What good news? – The Good News of Jesus Christ and our Catholic faith! This fall, over 800 children and young people, preschool through grade 12, will sign up to learn more about Jesus and the Catholic faith. You can help them learn and grow in faith by becoming a catechist for Faith Formation. With classes offered Sunday mornings and evenings and Wednesday afternoons and evenings you are almost sure to find a time that fits your schedule. As you nurture the faith of our young, you will learn and grow as well! As one long-time catechist put it, “I learn so much from the children!” We provide you with training, materials, and support. Classes begin September 21. If interested or for more information, contact …

    • That is great – I may use each one, maybe as a poster or bulletin announcement. I will be emailing you for a sample. i have to get my mindset into how wonderful it is, rather than being discouraged by the negativity.

  20. Hi – Since you have no takers, I would suggest asking High School students to assist. Then divide your students 6-8, 4-5, 1-3 and begin to mentor the high school students to become teachers. I have three teachers that began as high school classroom aides and they are great teachers.
    Cindy

    • That’s a great idea. Per Diocesan policy, high school students are only permitted to be aides, but doing it your way may work out. This year, I taught 3rd grade and my 9th grade daughter was my aide. She actually had to do a class or 2 when I had DRE responsibilities, but I left a craft or easier lesson plan. The kids related to her, but she just started Catholic High School, so is a little more “into” religion, but I can put the word out.

  21. Bob writes:

    Barbara:
    This may be a little ‘stern’, but it is a path.
    Communicate with your families that without CCD volunteers the Sacramental preparation for their children may not take place. This would be in direct, and serious, conflict with Church teaching. Then, if you are still not able to get enough volunteers, you can then let the parents know that professional CCD teachers need to be hired for Sunday mornings at a cost of several hundred dollars per family.
    Also since this is a ‘different’ tactic, if it is possible, run it by someone in the Bishop’s office who might supply some impartial feedback and support.
    Our prayers are with you.
    Peace,
    Bob Apito

  22. Judy writes:

    Hi Barbara! Would your parish be able to purchase books for the families and have them teach their children at home? Then, do a once a month, Family Day, where everyone would learn about a set topic, but would be reviewing what should be happening in the home. You could provide some stations that families could rotate through, maybe have the older teens help. Sounds like a great parish for intergenerational teaching.
    Judy Gruel
    DRE
    Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church
    Ellicott City, Maryland

  23. Barbara,
    I would endorse the plan Ann outlines in her post. You say you use the Pflaum program. Get rid of the grade levels. You will have to do something extra for the sacramental years but Plaum has resources for that. The fact that you meet on Sundays is an advantage. Explain to families why you need to make a change. Tell them that every child has to come with an adult (parent, grandparent, uncle, older teen). Have everyone learn together. Plaum has additional resources for each age group that can be used. The Loyola website’s Sunday Connection would serve you well too. A parent could come with all the children and learn with them all together if you get rid of the grade groupings.

    I have 250 children and not enough catechists. I have had an announcement in the bulletin every week since March. I have a poster up in the Church. I have personally invited people. I have prayed. I have attended a workshop on getting catechists. I do not have enough catechists to run the program in September.

    The GDC says that adult faith formation should be the centerpiece of parish catechesis. I wish we as a Church had listened to that and put resources there. My parish has nothing for adults. We are feeling that pain now. IN my area only 16% of adults attend Mass. Many people do not make time for their relationship with God and too few parents feel the need to participate in religious education. We need new models for catechisis. Your situation is so typical of what a great many of us are dealing with.

    I hope you will post again in the Fall next year to update us on what you decided to do and how it is going.

    I will pray for you and your parish.
    Peace,
    Mary

  24. Barbara, you have received many good suggestions already, but I would like to add a few more:
    1.Find an ally. Find someone in your parish who will meet with you, pray with you, and help you build a core team, so that you will not feel so alone. Maybe one or more of your three present catechists would warm to the idea of being a core group focused on enlivening your parish about sharing the good news of Jesus. (The word “catechist” may scare some people off.
    2. Since your pastor meets with the RICA people, ask him for the names of sponsors and new Catholics.
    3. Offer (with the help of your team) an informal study group to help parents and other parishioners learn some new ways of sharing their faith with children and youth. This may help ease them into the idea of being a catechist.
    4. Trust that many people (including me) are praying for you!
    Hoping and praying for you to receive more support and encouragement!
    Louisa

  25. First visit with the pastor. Ask his vision. Secondly, I know it is hard to consider, but, my first thought is to disband the current program until you get parish support. The pastor needs to be the leader here, let him. He is held to his bishop to provide RE for all families, right?
    Next, consider the family Edu programs available. Give that responsibility right back to them. Remember, God can really move and use moments like this to effect change that needs to come. Don’t be afraid of it.

    Remember, it’s God’s timing. Maybe it’s time for your parish to take a hard look at its priorities. I would also inform the diocesan office of recent developments. You should have a children’s and youth program coordinator at that level. They are very helpful.

    God Bless your endeavors!

  26. I suggest you talk with your pastor first. You are a volunteer and you need all the help that you can get from him. If you had his support, a half of your worries will go away. Also, try to find parents/teachers that is willing to do these classes. I am sure there is someone there since some of the parents do home school their children. Try to make the teaching an extension of what they are already doing.

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