Another catechetical year has ended, and I have to admit that I am glad this one is over. I had a challenging class this year, and many of my tried-and-true methods didn’t reach this group. There were good moments, but there were more frustrating ones. So today I am writing especially to the first-year catechists: Your year might have been a resounding success or not, but not every year will be like this one. Reflect on the challenges and the joy in this vocation, while resting in the knowledge that not every year will be like this one.
- Did the children love praying with reflective meditations?
- Did the children hate doing art projects?
- Did the children love journal time?
- Did the children hate worksheets?
- Did the children love doing skits?
- Did the children hate participating in discussions?
Look back on the year and look at what you did well and what you could do differently. Remember, not every year has to be like this one.
- You weren’t able to devote as much planning time as you’d have liked?
- You introduced multiple types of prayer?
- You weren’t as effective at classroom management as you’d have hoped?
- You connected with your group through meaningful activities?
- You forgot to ask for help when you needed it?
- You collaborated with other catechists to share ideas?
Not every year will be like this one.
Because I’ve been teaching for a number of years, I know there will be ups and downs. There will be groups that are easy to connect with and reach with the Good News, and groups that make you question whether this is the right ministry for you. Those ups and downs may be from week to week or from year to year. But if you have spent the year in the catechetical classroom, know that God called you to be there at this point in time for a purpose. Maybe it was to lead you to something else. But that something else doesn’t necessarily mean a new ministry. Sometimes it takes a year or two to get our feet wet and figure out how to be an effective catechist. Sometimes it means we need to turn to the Holy Spirit to inspire us to grow into a deepening vocation. Sometimes we need to let go of our fears of trying new methods or of asking for help. Sometimes…well, you get the idea.
There are methods for evaluating your year, and asking yourself whether you should return as a catechist is an important question. But please, don’t let one hard-to-manage group dissuade you from ministry—not without discerning why that class was so challenging and determining whether things could be different next time around. And most importantly, discern whether God wants you to continue.
Being a catechist is not easy, but it is rewarding. We are called to nurture others in their faith journeys, and every year has its own identity. How would you summarize your catechetical year in one sentence? Take that summary sentence to prayer as you discern your continued involvement in faith formation.