Personal Prayer Symbols

Last evening turned out to be a very lovely evening with my sixth graders. First, we gathered in Church for the Opening Mass with the pastor. I was able to recall many of my students by name as they arrived and that always makes them light up. They were well behaved during Mass (as I’ve mentioned before, almost too well-behaved, meaning that they are so passive and hardly respond to the parts of the Mass, but I’ll take that over misbehavior). I was asked to be an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion which is always a great honor and is great witness for my students.

After Mass, we headed to our room. Since we only had 15 minutes left together, I made it very informal. We sat around the table and I tried to remember all of their names and they enjoyed watching me struggle. In the end, however, I truly missed only one! Then I had them volunteer naming all of their classmates and two of them did so instantly (remember, they are not all from the same school so I thought that was pretty good).

Then, I had them share the objects that they brought in for our prayer center and I was delighted that all but two remembered. (Two were absent last night and one was not present last week and did not know about the assignment.) It was really wonderful. The kids brought in some beautiful objects (rosaries, medals, seashell, figurines) and offered brief background and information on why they chose that particular object. Here’s a pic:










When we were finished with that, I distributed their Bible Basics Assignment and went over it with them and asked for examples of books, characters, and stories from the Bible and they did quite well. I told them they could do this with their parents but not with a Bible! I also told them about the Learning Stations coming up next week and they seemed excited about that.

To end, we stood and prayed the Nicene Creed which is on the back of their folders.

After class, I met with the other two sixth-grade catechists and we talked over the Learning Stations and did some strategizing. It’ll be fun to team with them next week.

On my way home, I realized that I forgot to put the tables and chairs in the library back in order and it was too late to go back…the building was locked. I sent an e-mail to my DRE to notify her and to apologize. My apologies to the librarian at Most Holy Redeemer school who had to move tables and chairs in her room this morning because of me! I’m sincerely sorry!

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. thanks for the great ideas, however what I loved best was forgetting to put the furniture back! I can definitely relate. Bleesings on your ministry

  2. Just want to say thanks for all the wonderful ideas re: first session of the year. I am teaching 7th grade this year and used several of them with my group. WoW! did they work. We had a great first session which focused on “who Jesus is” and on Scripture. The kids really impressed me with remembering names for Jesus: Son of God
    Messiah, Prophet, Rabbi. Kudos to those catechists who entered their lives in other grades. I am looking forward to another great session. Thanks and may your year be blessed with many wonderful experiences.

  3. Hi Joe, I just wanted to say how much your blog helps and gives me inspiration. I just recently changed parish and I am teaching 6th grade faith formation this year for the first time. I am really nervous and not sure of what to expect. I have taught 1st and 2nd grade faith formation at my previous parish but never teens! I will be reading your blog to get some ideas and help! God bless and keep up the good work.

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