Ends With a Whimper, Not a Bang

Alas, the catechetical year with my 6th graders ended with more of a whimper than a bang last evening! Suffice it to say that their eagerness to be done with Monday night religious education sessions outweighed any anguish they were feeling about not seeing Mr. Paprocki any more! 🙂

Part of the problem stemmed from the usual shenanigans that one encounters when supervising a large group of pre-adolescents attending Mass on a Monday evening after a long day of school and after-school activities/sports. I won’t bore you with details but asking kids to stop doing the Macarena during the closing song might give you a hint as to their level of giddiness.

Following that, I had 15 minutes left to take them back to the classroom to try to bring some closure to our experience together. Needless to say, there was not sufficient time to establish a proper mood for doing so. The best moment was when we thanked our aide, Alex, for his service during the year and gifted him with a token of appreciation which he seemed delighted with. I had just enough time to quickly go through the activity I had planned with them but I was not able to establish the proper mood for it because of their eagerness to leave. I was able to tell them how much I enjoyed teaching them and what a wonderful class they were and we prayed a quick closing prayer together before Alex and I met them each at the door with a handshake, a wish for a good summer, and their bottle of holy water which, I think, they were hoping was going to be some kind of a treat like a donut hole or a candy bar!

I did receive a thank you card and a gift card from one student which was very thoughtful.

And then, just like that, it was over. Thus, is the life of a catechist. A group of young people enters your life…you experience many profound, joyful, and wonderful moments with them, interspersed with the occasional moments of frustration; you see them grow in their knowledge and relationship with the Lord, and then they are gone from your life. And you are left wondering, hoping, and praying that you made a difference.

I am profoundly grateful for the privilege of entering their lives over this past year and I thank the Holy Spirit for walking with me on this journey!

And the journey continues…

[photo: courtesy of elBidule via Compfight]

About Joe Paprocki 2736 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.

10 Comments on Ends With a Whimper, Not a Bang

  1. yeah great job indeed thank you,
    you can’t imagine how important and lifesaving work you are accomplishing on the account of the whole church and the whole humanity
    passing faith to others when you are firmly strengthened by the Holy Spirit nothing joyful like that! you shall enjoy it fully in heaven!

  2. Joe – thank you for being “the wind beneath my wings” all through out the CCD year. Your blog has encouraged me, guided me and yes… even entertained me at times. I have shared much of your wisdom with our 85 catechists. It was a privilege to meet you when you came to visit the Paterson Diocese. Thank you for everything from this grateful DRE!

  3. You put into words the feelings I had every year when I was a full-time teacher! At the beginning of the last month of school, I thought I had enough time to do all the “closing” activities that would “bond” me and my students…FOR LIFE!

    • OOPS! I clicked on the wrong button and didn’t quite finish what I wanted to say!! To continue…I always envisioned a “kumbaya” kind of moment where my little ones would promise to always remember each other and never forget our happy little classroom. Of course…the reality is that when children know they only have a few weeks, days or minutes left in their year of school or religious education, they are chomping at the bit and wanting to be free! I just know that in my small way, I am growing the next generation of Catholics, and I just hope that what I taught them will somehow, at some point, resurface in their minds and hearts. That’s the best we, as catechists/teachers of the faith, can do!!

  4. Thanks Joe, for your honest post! I shared it (along with others throughout the year) with our catechists. They think it is “them” — that they are the only ones who have bad days, bad months, etc.

  5. Joe, thanks for your honesty. I can certainly identify with your attempts to make the end of the year meaningful, when the kids just want it to be over. But you made some great memories with them as the year progressed, and they will remember what you taught them.

    I laughed about your students doing the Macarena during Mass. I’ve shushed many a kid, but usually with great seriousness. Please keep your sense of humor!

  6. I understand that this was a post about year-end… But as a brand new catechist, having just taught my very first class, it gives me some encouragement.

    Here I was, the first night meeting these kids on my first night teaching, and I noticed some were eager to leave. I saw some were happy to be there while others hated it. I could sense some were listening while others were rewinding old episodes of the Simpsons in their heads as I explained what we mean by “the Agony in the Garden.”

    And when the bell rang, a few made eye contact long enough for me to say good night and thank you, while several simply moved toward the door, avoiding me like the wierd old uncle who smells like cigars and cough drops!

    Oh my… why does it encourage me? I guess because if experienced catechists like Joe see remotely similar things, there just may be hope for me. I just might find the grace to hang in there despite feeling nervous, unequipped and outnumbered!

    • DJ, if my moments of frustration can be a source of inspiration for you, all the better! May we both experience a minimal amount of frustration!

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