Bishop David O’Connell’s 5 “i’s” For Effective Catechesis

I mentioned that when I was in the Diocese of Trenton, NJ, last week, I was inspired by Bishop David O’Connell’s homily in which he outlined, among other things, what he considers to be 5 essential elements for effective catechesis and effective catechists. Here are his 5 “i’s” –


Identity: get in touch with the Lord Jesus Christ through his Word, through prayer, through meditation, through the sacraments especially Penance and the Eucharist, through the teachings of the Church properly understood, through the witness you see in others.

Instruction: know what you are teaching about faith, doctrine, morality, justice as the Church instructs. Don’t make it up as you go along. Pope Francis wrote “Christ is our life! Likewise the centrality of Christ corresponds to the centrality of the Church: they are two focal points that cannot be separated: I cannot follow Christ except in the Church and with the Church (Pope Francis, “Homily to the Jesuit Community in Rome,” July 31, 2013).

Imagination: use every creative bone in your body to engage your students and keep their interest by appealing to their imagination. Make real connections between what you teach and the world we live in.

Inspiration: make your students WANT to believe. With the Holy Spirit, breathe life into them and their faith … that’s what “inspire” means.

Invitation: the Lord Jesus Christ didn’t just preach and teach and work miracles. He said “come, follow me.” What you do as Catechists has to lead somewhere, has to make a difference; there has to be a take away for them. William Butler Yeats once wrote: “education is not about the filling of a pail but the lighting of a fire.” Do that. Give them the matches!

Here is the entire text of Bishop O’Connell’s homily. Enjoy!

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

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