Beyond Backpacks: Preparing for a New Year

hands - teamwork

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?

About Lisa Jones 42 Articles
Lisa Jones is a fourth-grade catechist at her parish, St. Angela Merici in Missouri City, TX. She also serves her parish as the director of their Vacation Bible School program and as chairperson of the Faith Formation Council. Lisa blogs with her sister about faith and family life at Of Sound Mind and Spirit. She and her husband are the proud parents of three amazing kids.


  1. The ongoing spiritual care and formation of Catechists is so essential – thank you Lisa, for sharing your thoughts and experience. Our DRE is implementing this year four formation evenings for the Catechists – these will be weeks where we will not have scheduled CCD class sessions, so the Catechists don’t have to worry about lesson plans, etc. for that week. I am very excited about these evenings!

    I love the “Family of families” theme! One of our Priests reinforced this in a recent Homily – “The Church proclaims Family; the family must proclaim Church.” In my communications with the parents of my students, I try to reinforce the message that our Parish, the Church is a spiritual “home” and family for them. There are many opportunities to integrate this same message in our lesson plans (I teach 6th Grade Salvation History, so God calling His Covenant Family is a big theme!)

    Thanks again for your thoughts – wishing you a holy and growth-filled CCD year!

  2. Meeting for catechist formation on weeks we don’t have class would be really nice. I’m going to forward that idea to our Dir of FF. Yes! Our parish is a spiritual home! I love that. Thank you for your comments. I pray the year is going well for you and your class.

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