Despite having 15 years of experience, I feel like a first-year catechist in many ways this year. Our parish has a new catechetical leader. I will be in a different classroom on a different floor of the school building. My room has tables instead of individual desks. The religious education office moved to different location within the parish space. Things are changing, and I’m hoping the changes bring positive effects for our program.
On the one hand, we could say that many of those changes are superficial—does it really matter which classroom one is assigned? But the changes remind me that I cannot remain stagnant in my catechetical vocation. A literal change of scenery can help bring to mind new perspectives regarding the way I present the Gospel message and approach my new group of seventh graders.
In the midst of these changes, I’m asking myself two questions:
- How can I be more evangelizing in my catechesis?
- How can I connect with the young people in meaningful ways that pave the path for deeper discussions?
As the new year gets underway, these questions will serve as guideposts for the decisions I make as I plan lessons or make time for my own faith formation.
The answers will develop as the year does, and I don’t expect to have them fully formed even by the time I say good-bye to this year’s pre-Confirmation group. But that’s not a bad thing. If I keep asking the questions or ask new ones as the months and years go by, every year will feel a little like the first year, keeping things fresh for a new crop of young people who enter my classroom—wherever it’s located.
There’s always an excitement in the air as the new catechetical year begins. Let’s pull that excitement with us through the year, remembering the joy of the Gospel, as Pope Francis advises, and serve our young people in the best way we can—whether it’s our first year, fifteenth, or thirtieth.
What questions are you asking in the first weeks of the religious education year? How can we help each other to keep up the excitement throughout the year?