It’s back-to-school time for my children. We’ve spent weeks buying new clothes, backpacks, and school supplies. They went to school orientations, they met their teachers, and they even attended a pre-school pep rally. On the first day of school, our prep work paid off. They all knew where they were going and what to expect, and they were open to a new school experience.
Just as my kids had to prepare to go back to school, I have to prepare to go back to the faith-formation classroom. Only my prep work doesn’t involve new clothes and backpacks. I must prepare in a different way.
Since I’m headed back to a familiar classroom, grade, textbook, and curriculum, my prep work is more internal, spiritual, and emotional. Our Director of Lifelong Faith Formation and Coordinator of Elementary Faith Formation held a two-hour training session for new and returning catechists. Typically, this “Catechist Day” trains and helps catechists get ready for the new faith-formation year. I was curious to see what our faith-formation leaders would present. Both of them are new to their positions; I discovered that they brought an energy and vitality to the program that was contagious.
The training session began with a prayer service. The readings were wonderful—they helped me get in the right frame of mind to ponder and pray about the upcoming faith-formation year. During the presentation by our new Director of Lifelong Faith Formation, I was excited to hear that this year’s catechetical theme was “The Family of Families,” which was based on a phrase used by Daniel Cardinal DiNardo. As catechists, we are working together as a family to build and support the domestic church, which in turn builds and supports our parish church. We are a family of families. The Director of Lifelong Faith Formation highlighted the importance of catechists working together to support one another in our vocations. We also have to support the families of our students; those families are the foundation of our parish.
Even though I’m not new to the vocation of a catechist, I was inspired by what I heard. I found myself nodding in agreement with the presentation. Yes, I want to be the face of the Risen Christ to the children in my class; I want to help them learn about God; I want to share my own faith with them; I want to show them a living faith both in and out of the classroom!
The energy, excitement, and focus I found during that two-hour catechist training was the prep I needed for a new faith-formation year. I was reminded why I volunteered to teach in the first place and of what keeps me coming back year after year.
What training do you receive as a catechist that helps you prepare for a new year of faith formation?