Thank God for the Textbook!

The Catechist's ToolboxOn pg. 40 of my book, The Catechist’s Toolbox, I mention that one of the top ten things that can go wrong for a catechist is “You’re done with your lesson and you still have 35 minutes to go!”

Would you believe 50 minutes? That’s exactly what happened to me last night!

We took our 6th graders to church for the Sacrament of Reconciliation and we were told to anticipate that it would take the entire evening. As it turns out, we were invited to leave as soon as our class finished going to confession and my class went first! Add to that the fact that 3 of my 9 students were absent and it didn’t take long for 6 kids to go to confession. When we got back to the classroom, we had 50 minutes left when I anticipated perhaps 10-15 minutes at most! So here’s what we did:

  1. We talked about the experience of going to confession/receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation (10 mins)
  2. We gave the kids time to review the first 7 Commandments which they have memorized (7 minutes)
  3. We gave a quiz on the first 7 Commandments: one student filled in all 10, three students got the 7 they were responsible for at this time, and two students got 6 of the 7, although one of them also added commandments 9 and 10! (10 minutes)
  4. My wife then said, “Thank God for the textbook!” INDEED! We distributed our Finding God textbooks and had the kids open to the chapter on Christmas and we read about the meaning of the Christmas season and especially focused on the gifts of the Magi, explaining how these gifts are symbolic – gold representing Jesus’ kingship; frankincense representing representing his priestly role; and myrrh representing his death by which we would be saved. (15 minutes)
  5. We then took a few minutes to review their Ten Commandments quiz and then distributed their assignment to memorize the last 3 commandments over the Christmas break. (5 mins)
  6. Finally, we distributed some Christmas treats to take home and we sang Silent Night as our closing prayer. (3 mins)

Whew! We made it!

It’s always good to know that a textbook like Finding God has so many supplemental chapters and resources available to turn to in a pinch!

Finding God 2013

About Joe Paprocki 2739 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

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