At the end of the religious education year, there’s often a flurry of activity—final preparations for First Communion and Confirmation, May Crowning, early start on registrations for next year, and catechist recruitment before summer break. But it’s important that we take time to celebrate the year completed and savor its graces.
Our parish did that in a tangible way with a special dinner for catechists and others who make religious education possible: crossing guards, aides, and parish staff. The pizza, pasta, and chicken were a surprising but thoughtful way to thank us catechists. I had expected some desserts or light snacks at the post-final class gathering! Other parishes have other ways of celebrating their volunteers, such as barbeques on parish grounds, one-on-one exit interviews that might include a gift book presentation, or thank-you notes recognizing each catechist’s gifts. No matter how the parish recognizes faith formation volunteers, it’s a way of celebrating their presence and the good of the year.
In a similar way, we individual catechists should take time to celebrate the year. We don’t need a party during class time to celebrate; we can commemorate the year by using meaningful prayer experiences and expressing gratitude in faith-filled ways. A simple thanks to the young people for being a part of our group this year goes a long way. A fun review game can also be a way to celebrate. I celebrate with my group of young people during our final session by leading a special prayer time centered on the Pentecost story and the gifts the young people can take to the world as disciples. It’s a meaningful way of sending forth the young people to their immediate Confirmation preparation next year. I also like to give them some small token to remember the year. I’ve paired prayer cards with prayer journals or rosaries or other small religious items over the years. Maybe you used the Pope Francis prayer cards available here at Catechist’s Journey.
Then, after the kids have all gone home and I’ve put away my catechist’s bag for the summer, it’s time to celebrate privately. I thank God for the gifts of the year. This year my gratitude list includes:
- getting to know the 19 young people God placed in my group;
- the laughs we shared while seriously exploring the Gospels;
- the successful Stations of the Cross experience;
- the moments when students remembered something we had talked about to apply it to a new concept;
- the questions that showed kids were paying attention.
Not every session was a rousing success, and there were moments when I could have done better as a catechist, but now is the time to look at the bigger picture of the good from the year. I celebrate that.
How do you celebrate the year of faith formation, whether with fellow catechists, with your students, or in individual prayer? What was your greatest success of the year? Tell us so we can celebrate with you!