What is it that all DREs know about the majority of Catholic families today? They are overwhelmed by an overbooked schedule of events and work, and growing our faith is often deferred to those once-in-a-while moments when things are quiet; that is not necessarily weekend Mass.
So how do we find future catechists? I propose we INVITE people to consider the call to be a catechist.
I = INITIATE a conversation.
- Regular parent gatherings or intergenerational events bring together parents or families who are willing to answer an invitation.
- The parents who drop off their children give us an opportunity to have conversations about the faith formation program and the faith formation of their family.
- Begin by sharing about the child’s response to faith formation sessions.
- Share how other parents became involved.
N = NOTICE who lingers and seems curious about the happenings at faith formation sessions.
Thinking of Becoming a Catechist? is a great page to share with prospective volunteers. It includes reasons to become a catechist, the Catechists in Action video series, and Joe Paprocki’s popular webinars.
V = VALUE the time and the conversation shared. Listen for anything that sounds like:
- I wish I knew more about my faith.
- The children’s book is quite interesting.
- Do you have anything that I could use with my other, smaller children?
I = INVITE these parents to help, even if it is just one time.
- Helping in the child’s group gives a taste of how catechesis is done and allows the parent to see that it is not scary but enjoyable when the tools are provided.
- If parents offer to assist in the office, have them come in to help some day to stuff envelopes or collate papers. This offers an opportunity to talk with them about becoming a catechist.
T = THANK everyone involved with the program:
- The parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle, or whomever drops off the children; that adult is ensuring the children come to sessions.
- Children for coming and sharing about Jesus. Children will share these kindnesses with their families.
- Catechists—in front of children and parents. Constant support for these volunteers makes the role inviting to others.
E = ENCOURAGE everyone who enters into the catechetical space to:
- Be a part of their child’s faith life.
- Participate in weekend Mass so children understand better what they are learning about their faith.
- Learn so much more about their own faith by joining the catechetical journey with the children of the parish.
May your efforts at catechist recruitment be fruitful!
What methods do you use to invite parishioners to consider becoming a catechist?
I enjoyed your posting. One thing to consider that all volunteers need background checks to work with children. If a person is considering volunteering once, they may not want to attend the require classes and the background checks. Inviting volunteers is important. Thank you.
I was a Catechist! I taught the most unpopular class…7th Graders. When the parish hired a new Director of Religious Ed for middle school, I was fired (or asked not to report for the new school year) because I couldn’t follow the curriculum the way the new director wanted. I would follow the basic textbook that I was given, but had to spend a substantial amount of time teaching basic Catholicism. Things like how to say a Hail Mary or an Our Father and the prayers of the Rosary. The parts of the Mass. How to go to Confession. The difference between Mortal and Venial sins. How to behave in Church. …and many, many more!!! I found myself teaching many times out of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. The same text that they use to train bishops. I was told that would never do!!! That my approach was all wrong!!! I was told that I should be preaching the words of Jesus from the Gospel! I replied that that information could be gotten on Sunday at Mass, but first, somebody had to teach the kids WHY they even needed to go to Mass!!! I would usually have 15-18 kids in my class!!! At most, I only had 2 or 3 that ever went to Mass. I had to try to teach these kids the difference between Catholicism and Protestantism because when they get into high school and their protestant friends invite them to youth night at their church and it’s fun and like a party they need to know where their true spiritual home is!!! …and WHY it’s their true spiritual home!!! They don’t know!!! 7th graders don’t know why they should even be Catholic!!! …and I was given all of 3 hours a month to educate these kids in Catholicism!!!
Before this director, I was asked to teach 8th grade several times. Of course that’s the Confirmation Prep Class! However, I could never sign my name to approve of any of the kids knowing enough to be confirmed…so I taught 7th graders. I was very distressed when I was asked not to come back. For several weeks after that they begged from the pulpit for Catechists, but they want Catechists to teach Christianity…not Catholicism!!! …and the kids can get that at most any church…Catholic or Protestant! So what’s the use???
Robert, thank you for sharing your story although I’m sorry for how things turned out in the end. Not knowing the situation or the people involved, I can hardly comment. I do know that it is distressing for any catechist to be teaching older children and to discover that they have not grasped the essentials of our faith. When that happens, we can be tempted to double down and give them a “crash course” in Catholic doctrine and practice before they are confirmed. The problem with that is we find ourselves catechizing young people who have not been evangelized…they have not truly encountered the Risen Christ. I wish I could wave a magic wand and “fix” the problems we face with young people and their families not attending Mass but it is a very complex issue with many factors involved that negates a quick fix solution. In the meantime, we pray for the guidance of the Holy Spirit to help us implement the New Evangelization that will involve new ardor, expressions, and methods for proclaiming Christ to this and future generations.
As I said…any church can evangelize!!! …and Protestants are much better than Catholics! I know from personal experience. Had the Sisters of Providence not “catechized” me, I could have easily become a Baptist, a Lutheran, a Methodist, or a Presbyterian. Some cute little Protestant girl could’ve stolen my heart, and I would’ve been lost. …and the Sisters weren’t necessarily “kind” in the process of my religious education but they instilled in me the Truth of the Catholic Church. The kindest thing they did for me was save me with the Truth of Our Lord and the Holy Spirit and Holy Mother Church. …and guess what!?! When our children go with their friends to those Protestant “Youth Group” nights, the parents will happily let them go thinking they are in a safe place and off of the streets! They will never consider that their children’s souls are in jeopardy. …because the parents had the same weak Christian educations that their children are receiving. Priests no longer educate from the pulpit about Catholicism. They evangelize Christianity. I don’t blame them. Talking “nice” is a lot easier than teaching the rules and responsibilities of being Roman Catholic. Without a foundation of understanding, we are merely promoting a form of Protestantism.
When I was teaching, I had a mother complain that I said that “abortion” was an excommunicatable sin! Mind you, the chapter in the text book was about the respect of life and abortion was mentioned. The DoE I was under said I shouldn’t tell untruths like that! I immediately pulled out my copy of the Catechism…turned to section 2272…and told her to read what the Church says!!! Her jaw dropped!!! She didn’t know!!! She went back to the mother to report that what I read to the kids out of the Catechism was true and valid!!! …and that’s why I keep copies of the Catechism on my phone, my computer, and in book form. After that, the director ordered Catechism of the Catholic Church books for each classroom.
The only chance some of these souls have is the zeal of their educators. The children will not learn Catholicism with crafts, skits, word games and discussions about their feelings…for one hour a week!!! …an hour and a half twice a month for middle school kids!!! They need to be taught the truth as set down by the Holy Father and the Magisterium!!! If you’re not going to teach the truth about Catholicism, your time would be better spent praying that a priest will be there to give them the last rites on their death bed!!!
I’m sure you think I’m a horrible person, but I live by what my grandmother told me once…”Nothing is more important than the salvation of your immortal soul!” Salvation is from the Roman Catholic Church, the Magisterium, and the Holy Father!!! If you don’t know what separates the Catholic Church from its Protestant competition, then the Church and its educators are not doing their jobs and are partially responsible for the lost sheep from the fold.
Prophets and even Jesus Himself were not well received for their teachings! Catholicism was never meant to be easy, and when you try to make it so, you’re not doing anyone any favors!!! I took my Confirmation seriously. I am a Soldier of Christ! Kids today probably aren’t even taught that…the Church needs more people like me…not fewer.
I think this is an excellent comment and way to teach with a tool that you can refer to parents to look how to work with their child. At our Church, The Church of St. Joachim and St. John the Evangelist we have to get everything approved by the Director, who frequently doesn’t know about any of these tools and is very rigid; I was fired during Easter for no reason other then he say we were like “oil and vinegar”, and one person picketed for me without my knowledge my living care person as I am handicapped. He took my stuff and threw it in a pile in the street, it was embarrassing and broke me. The year of Mercy and I was treated like crap. Yet he’s a role model, I just want to teach and go back to being a Eucharistic Minister. I did nothing wrong…it’s time for him to go to the Archdiocese classes so he doesn’t pick on people that do. I miss my students and my Church Family…they helped to make me feel whole.
April…I’m so sorry for how you were treated. With your permission, I will have you placed on the prayer board at EWTN. The nuns will pray for you 24/7 throughout July. Mother Angelica was a personal friend of mine (God rest her soul) for over 30 years. I was (and still am) her transmitter engineer for the satellite broadcast segment of the EWTN Network. I can honestly say that she felt much the same as you and I about the Catholic education of our children. …one of the reasons she started her network. May God Bless and Keep you now and forever.
Robert J Green
We just tried our first-ever informational (no commitment req’d) catechist informational webinar this week and it went great! We wanted to let people know what it was like (even tho we have a page on the web site with info, links to texts, a job description, videos from catechists, etc) and what was expected so that they would feel comfortable volunteering. it was a way to invite them, knowing they weren’t going to fight traffic to come to a meeting. We had great conversation, and at least one person signed up that night. Others, we’re following up with. We’ll do a 2nd one next month. Hopefully word will get around that it’s easy to attend when the kids are in bed and there’s no “hard sell.”
Big shout-out to Loyola Press for the issuu book samples online. We linked to them right in our presentation and were able to show in real-time how useful the teacher texts are.