You’ve arrived at the first catechist meeting of the year just in the nick of time. Your DRE hands you your catechist book, your class roster, and a list of expectations for the year. At the end of the meeting, your DRE wishes you the best of luck. You gather your things, head back to your car, and wave good-bye. Upon returning home, you’re faced with an abundance of materials, a couple of new ideas on how to kick off the year, and a lot of questions regarding the year ahead.
This may be a familiar scene. The beginning of a new year can be overwhelming for those involved in catechetical ministry. However, as a DRE, I don’t want my catechists to feel swamped or intimidated—I want them to feel energized and empowered. I encourage the catechists at my parish to set goals for the upcoming year. Setting a few simple goals can help you focus your attention on your ministry while not being overwhelmed by the responsibilities of being a catechist. Whether you’re a seasoned veteran or a newcomer, consider making the following goals your own this year.
1. Be a team player.
Planning a prayerful, creative, and faith-focused class takes a lot of time and energy. Instead of reinventing the wheel each week, work with other catechists at your parish. Don’t be afraid to team up with other classes from different grades for a special service project or a rousing review game. These are often the most memorable events of the year, and such events allow students an excellent opportunity to feel a part of the wider parish community.
2. Create a class covenant.
By creating a covenant as a group, your class will make promises to serve and love one another throughout the year. This will challenge you and your students to live up to the ideals of the covenant, both inside and outside of the classroom. For visual reinforcement, write the class covenant on a poster cut out to look like the tablets of the Ten Commandments and hang it prominently in the classroom.
3. Plan a prayer buffet.
Students need to have their spiritual horizons expanded throughout the year. Plan a different prayer experience during each class, devote an entire session to an in-class retreat, or introduce the children to new kinds of prayer. Some examples include the Liturgy of the Hours, lectio divina, the Rosary, the Stations of the Cross, or Eucharistic adoration. Your students may be inspired by a new world of prayer they hadn’t known existed!
4. Attend Mass as a class.
Invite your students and their families to worship with you. Choose a Mass that is convenient for families to attend and let them know where you’ll be sitting. Since students love feeling included in the Mass, see if they could serve as greeters before Mass or if they can present the gifts during the Liturgy of the Eucharist. Children and their families are more likely to want to come back the following week if they have a sense of pride from their role in the liturgy.
5. Catechize parents.
Parents are always interested in hearing what their children are learning in class. Take advantage of this curiosity to catechize the parents. Invite parents to class to sit in on a lesson or participate in a special parent/child activity. Encourage children to write down three things that they learned on a slip of paper and share it with their parents. This will help students learn how to share their faith with others and spark conversations that may not happen organically at home.
Serving in catechetical ministry is challenging, but incredibly rewarding. Make sure that you take the time—and give yourself permission—to satisfy your own spiritual needs as you serve your students. Having an active prayer life yourself will help you infuse your class time with prayer. Try to pray in new ways and see where God speaks to you most clearly.
What goals do you have for the upcoming year?