Equipping Catechists with AV Equipment on a Low Budget

For some time, I have struggled with the reality that many catechists do not have access to AV equipment to show videos or PowerPoint presentations in their classes. Often, the RE program does not have equipment of its own and is not welcome to use the school’s AV equipment. While I show videos and PPT presentations all the time, the fact is, I purchased my own LCD projector some years ago because of the volume of speaking engagements I have. That is an expensive investment (you’re going to cough up several hundred dollars for a good projector) that an individual catechist cannot be expected to make and that, quite frankly, many RE programs cannot even afford.

Recently, I researched and experimented with a low cost mini-LCD projector (about $50) but was terribly dissapointed with the quality of the projected image. Then it occurred to me that, for most catechists with a group of about 15 participants, you really don’t need to project an image…you can connect a laptop to a monitor!

So here is what I propose to catechetical leaders as a low-budget approach to equipping your catechists with AV equipment.

  • For starters, rely on your catechists to have/bring their own lap top computer so that they can prepare their PPT presentations or video clips at home. Investing in lap tops is out of reach for most RE programs and any catechist who is interested in incorporating AV into their lessons will have their own laptop or tablet.
  • Purchase several used 18-21 inch LED monitors like the one pictured below that I placed on a table next to my drinking cup and some other familiar items so you can get an idea of size/perspective. My thinking is that you don’t need a huge image for a group of 15 or so.


  • YOU CAN FIND USED MONITORS SUCH AS THESE FOR UNDER $100 THROUGH AMAZON, CRAIGSLIST, AND EBAY JUST TO NAME A FEW PLACES! (Some are so cheap that individual catechists may consider purchasing one as part of their own equipment!)
  • Purchase several VGA cords (less than $10) to connect laptops to the monitors as well as several sets of computer speakers (if the monitors don’t have built-in speakers). You can get good speakers for under $20.
  • You may want to also purchase a few power strips and extension cords (again only a few dollars)
  • You can label these as property of the REP and store them in a safe location.
  • When a catechist wants to show a video or a PowerPoint presentation, they can bring their own laptop and connect to a monitor and speakers (if needed) and they’re good to go.

In all, for only several hundred dollars, an RE program can make several sets of the above equipment available on a regular basis for catechists who want to incorporate AV into their lessons. In my next post, I’ll address more issues around the best way to show videos in the classroom.

Your thoughts on the above?

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 www.catechistsjourney.com.


  1. Wonderful suggestion! I have a laptop which I sometime connect to a big flat screen monitor to watch movies. It didn’t even occur to me that I can use it for my class for a presentation or to watch a DVD movie. It’s not even heavy. We are not allow to use the white boards, so this can work for me. Thanks.

  2. I love this idea. My son-in-law works for an electronics recycling place and I may be able to get usable monitors for a little bit of nothing. This might be worth people checking out in their areas.

    • Agreed, Kathy. There’s a computer repair shop a block away from where I work and I pass it by on my way to the train. I may stop in to see if they have any used monitors for sale.

  3. Hi Joe, my question is, why arent the faith formation programs allowed to use the schools tehnological equipment? Is this a common theme? I thought it was only in my parish that i am finding resistance in implementing the curriculum to the “iGeneration” and find it very discouraging. What is the theory behind this resistance? I personally teach at the college level and am masters prepared, therefore am highly functional in digital media use for educational purposes, but need to stand and “lecture” to 6th graders on Sundays for an hour and expect them to retain information and stay enthuised. Its just not happening. What are your thoughts?

    • Hi Kate. I and many share your frustration. Unfortunately, many parishes suffer from a “silo” mentality in which various communities within the parish perceive themselves as a community unto themselves, in isolation with other groups. In schools, in particular, there is often the sense that equipment was purchased with money from either tuition or grants secured by the school so therefore, the equipment “belongs” to the school. There needs to be a sense of stewardship in which all of the community shares in the abundance God has provided while certain entities hold them in stewardship which means to safeguard but not to hoard. Many parishes make it quite clear to all that parish buildings are PARISH buildings, used by all. A school may have primary stewardship over some spaces and equipment however that should not prevent others in the parish from responsible use of such spaces or equipment. This problem is all too familiar and is a constant struggle for many catechetical programs but is strictly a “cultural” issue – however parish cultures, like all cultures, are not easy to change!

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