It’s hard to believe but today is the 10th anniversary of Catechist’s Journey! We have journeyed long and far together, and it continues to be a great joy to walk the journey of this splendid ministry together with you! I can’t thank you enough for accompanying me. I have learned so much from you and deeply appreciate all of the ways you have shared your wisdom and experience with me and my readers.
To celebrate this 10th anniversary of Catechist’s Journey, we’ve been featuring a series of catechetical top-10 lists and giving away Loyola Press prize packages. Today we conclude with one more top-10 list and give you the chance to win a Grand Prize Joe Paprocki Collection; details below.
- You have a vocation. Serving as a catechist is more than a form of volunteerism; it is a vocation. You have been called by God through his Church to do the wonderful work that you are doing. Please know that this is one of the ways that God is calling you to grow closer to him as a disciple of Jesus.
- Not just anyone can do what you do. While there are over a half-million catechists in the United States (That sounds like a lot!), that only amounts to less than 1% of Catholics who do what you do. Not just any warm body can be a catechist. Ask your catechetical leader; they have very high standards for who they invite. You are a unique person with unique gifts!
- You’re making a difference. Serving as a catechist can be frustrating at times, and you may wonder if you are making a difference and really touching the lives of those you teach. Please know that you are indeed making a difference. You are the people who are offering an invitation to a deeper relationship with God and a way of life that places God at the center of everything we do.
- You don’t have to teach the whole Catechism of the Catholic Church in every lesson. You are under great pressure to make sure that those you teach are faith-literate. Don’t make the mistake, however, of trying to cram too much into every lesson. You’re better off choosing one big idea and teaching it really well.
- Prayer is one of the four pillars. Don’t shortchange prayer because you feel you need as much time as possible to teach doctrine. Prayer is one of the four pillars of our faith, along with the Creed, Sacraments, and Morality. Without prayer, the other three pillars are simply concepts. With prayer, all four pillars become a way of living in a relationship with the Living God.
- You don’t teach a subject; you facilitate an encounter. Jesus is not a subject. He is a Person. A Living Person. You’re not teaching about Jesus; you are facilitating an encounter with Jesus.
- Your sessions should resemble the Mass more than class. The most effective way to facilitate an encounter with Jesus is to create a climate of prayer. If we truly believe that Jesus is present with us, we must allow him to speak to us. The Church uses a language of mystery—sign, symbol, and ritual—to facilitate this mysterious encounter with Christ. Consider all of the ways that you can incorporate this language of mystery into your sessions. Faith formation should not feel like an experience of going to school for another class.
- Use technology. Kids today are digital natives, while many catechists are digital immigrants. We need to do all we can to learn more about technology and the digital world if we are to communicate with the current and future generations who live in this reality and rely on it for the majority of their information.
- Fun is not the goal; engagement is. Don’t fall into the trap of trying to make your lessons fun. That’s not the goal. The goal is to be engaging. We can have fun and do activities that are fun, but only as long as the goal of engaging learners with the Gospel is being achieved.
- Show joy. Pope Francis famously said, in his Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, that “Christians must not be sourpusses!” This is even more true for catechists! We have to express to those we teach that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is a message that has transformed our lives for the better and has brought us great joy—not flippant giddiness—but a deep-down gladness that nothing can take away from us.
Thank you for celebrating the 10th anniversary of Catechist’s Journey with us. Giveaway winners have all been notified.