The Engaged Catechist: Forming Catechist Enrichment Groups

In his book, Growing An Engaged Church (Gallup Press), Albert L. Winseman explains that, without true engagement, volunteers burn out quickly. He identifies 3 ways to make an immediate impact on the level of engagement of church members:

  1. clarify the expectations of membership
  2. help your members discover what they do best
  3. create small groups

I think these can (and should) be easily applied to catechists, who, without engagement, do indeed burnout quickly. Those catechists who persevere the longest are the ones who become more deeply engaged in the faith community. The best safeguard against constant turnover of catechists is to care for and nurture them. The 3 strategies above are helpful:

  1. catechists need to have clarity on what is expected of them (more than just “teach the 5th grade”) in this vocation (as well as what they can expect in return!)
  2. catechetical leaders need to help catechists discover and develop their gifts through ongoing formation (not just completing courses to get a certificate, but true attention to personal growth)
  3. catechists should be encouraged to form small enrichment groups (perhaps 4 to 6 catechists), dedicated to working together on their faith formation.

Such catechist enrichment groups can meet informally at one another’s homes to select books to read and discuss together, seminars and workshops to attend together, and online courses and webinars to participate in together.

To get started, here are some books I would recommend from the Loyola Press “library” (according to categories normally required for catechist certification) to encourage catechists to read and discuss in their small groups.

Teaching Skills


The Catholic Faith


Liturgy & Sacraments

Prayer and Spirituality

Mary and the Saints

Morality & Social Justice


About Joe Paprocki 2173 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

9 Comments on The Engaged Catechist: Forming Catechist Enrichment Groups

  1. I love the idea of book groups for catechists. At our parish, we just started preparing “book club” bags. Each bag has 10 copies of a spiritual title with a discussion guide (if one is available). We hope to hand them out to groups that are looking for a book to study. I will have to have some ready for my catechist training sessions!

  2. It’s important to the newbies that the experienced catechists establish at least a conversational familiarity with them. Any time I run into new catechists during the year I ask them how they’re doing, how the curriculum suits them, what problems they may be having, any positive experiences, etc. The first year can be very discouraging; in many ways the direct, informal personal support of the experienced catechists can be more valuable than that of the DRE.

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