Calling Forth Catechists: Approaches

planting seeds

It’s important in your approach to calling people to serve as catechists to be positive! I’ve seen bulletin announcements that sound so desperate: “We are in dire need of catechists. We keep losing good catechists every year. Without catechists, we may have to cancel our RE program!” Language like that makes it sound like you’re inviting someone to hop aboard a sinking ship.

Present your program in a positive light and describe the role of being a catechist as an opportunity to grow in faith. Avoid sounding desperate but instead emphasize how crucial this ministry is. Use language that honors the potential catechist and their motivation and gives them something positive to respond to. Most of all, emphasize that, as a catechist, they will be joining a “catechetical community of faith”—a small faith group in which they will find support in their personal and spiritual lives. Here are some effective approaches to consider:

  • Witness talks from current catechists (at Mass, after Communion)
  • Profiles of current catechists in Church bulletin or local paper
  • Planting seeds when parents are registering their children (“You would make a good catechist; have you ever thought about it?”)
  • Social media, such as a Facebook page for catechists, to direct potential candidates to
  • Invitation to a “no obligation” dinner (or wine and cheese, or coffee and…) for potential catechists
  • Personal appearances at parish organizations to invite people to consider the call to serve as a catechist
  • Visibility at Sunday Masses and other parish functions to observe, identify, and approach people to plant seeds and/or to invite
  • Phone calls to potential catechists and to former catechists

Use printed materials for support and to build image, not as your only strategy. What other approaches would you suggest?

About Joe Paprocki 2300 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

6 Comments on Calling Forth Catechists: Approaches

  1. Joe
    I have doe at least half of the strategies you suggest. By the generosity of our people and God’s Grace I will interview a person, recruited by another catechist, on Monday to fill my last opening. Prayer and persistence have paid off.

  2. Be sure to lay out your basic expectations of a catechist, and keep in mind that the less-complicated your expectations, the better your response will be. For example, I email the text below in the body of my reminder to register, which goes out once each summer month.

    Faith Formation is always in need of loving adults (Grandparents encouraged!) who’d like to teach and share our Catholic Faith with the youth and children of the parish. Please consider volunteering as a catechist, even if you don’t have children old or young enough to participate in OLG’s faith formation programs.

    Ask yourself: is God is calling ME to be a catechist?
    – Your commitment as a catechist means:
    • We will train and support you in the use of the materials we provide
    that form the basis of each class
    • You spend some time looking at the material for the next lesson so you
    know what you are teaching
    • You are present for each catechetical session, usually 22-23 per year
    from late-September through early-May
    • You are willing to let God use you to both teach, and to learn, about
    our Catholic faith with a small group

  3. Does anyone have practical suggestions for saying “no” to a potential catechist who responds to your “call”? My assistant and I feel that he wouldn’t be able to control a classroom, and he has no filter when speaking so he tends to over-share about his personal life. Something about his personality is just giving us a bad impression on his ability to teach effectively. But when I am begging the parish for volunteers every week, how do I say no?
    Thanks for any advice!
    – A newbie DRE

  4. Love your article and all the great suggestions. Sometimes I feel we do resort to the sinking ship and the message that we are dire need because it often works and people will come if you are desperate and not before!

  5. Thanks for this. Have just been called (ok firmly moved) from simply being a catechist to a leadership role. Also settling into a very different parish community – when I arrived, I was the only active catechist there. We are looking to form a team of catechist and supporters. The idea behind the supporters is to help build confidence to encourage and grow more catechists, or if this is not their calling, to see whether they have other offerings to support children’s and our formation. It feels like stepping out into the unknown, but thanks to God, he is providing a lot as I am not a natural leader of administrator.

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