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The start of the new catechetical year has always brought me much excitement for the graces that will come; it has also brought a little anxiety as I think about the ways that God will stretch me as I strive to serve my students. These feelings are magnified for me this year, as this new catechetical year also marks the start of a new chapter in my life. I recently left my position as the Director of Faith Formation at a parish in the Boston suburbs to pursue a Ph.D. in Religious Education at Fordham University in New York City. I’m learning to navigate new streets and social circles, find balance in a new schedule, and search for God’s presence as I continue to discern why God has called me to this new life.
The start of the new catechetical year is also a time of transition. Questions about the new year flutter through my mind. What will my new class of second graders be like? What questions and discussions will my students stump me with? How will I adapt my teaching style to account for what I learned as a DRE? How will my students and I grow closer together, and to God, as we share our faith this year?
These questions, along with many others, tell me that God is with me as I prayerfully prepare to greet 12 (hopefully) smiling faces for the first time. I have come to recognize my concerns as indicators of ways that God is calling me to grow in my ministry. For example, my fear that I won’t be able to find ample time to create engaging lesson plans shows me that I need to focus on budgeting time to nourish my faith. My concern about bonding with my students tells me that God wants me to focus on being fully present with all those I encounter.
Upon reflection, I am encouraged to recognize that the things I am most worried about are also the things that I am most excited about. Transitions are hard, but God reveals more of God’s self to us through the challenges of adapting to accommodate new lifestyles and relationships. As God assuages my concerns, I will grow to become a better catechist and servant. I am excited to discover the ways that my faith will grow deeper as I am more mindful of seeking out opportunities for prayer and reflection. I am confident that I will come to a greater understanding of God’s love as I get to know my students, make new friends, and recognize God’s presence in each of them.
Although I cannot anticipate all of the ways that God will form me this year, I am eager to begin this journey. My prayer for this year is “Your word is a lamp to my feet / and a light to my path.” (Psalm 119:105) I pray that we all look toward God to guide us in our transitions this year and trust that God will ease our worries as we embark on new adventures.
What transitions will you be facing this new year? What tips do you have for managing these transitions?