10 Things Veteran Catechists Want New Catechists to Know

What do you wish someone had told you before you became a catechist?

What do you wish someone had told you before you became a catechist? We asked this question on our Catholic Faith Formation Facebook page and got some great responses—good encouragement, especially for new catechists starting their first year of teaching.

You’re responsible for one thing: getting the child closer to God.

—Shannon Panchyshyn

I’ve been teaching religion for almost 50 years in a regular classroom and PREP classes. I learned from experience. If I had to share advice, it would be to keep in mind that religion is not just a subject to learn; it’s a life to be lived.

—Donna Kowal

Your job is not to convert, but rather to just plant the seed. The Holy Spirit will do the rest. Also, pray for patience!

—Nicci Malm

I don’t think anyone told me just how completely, joyfully, and fiercely I would grow to love these children and their parents.

—Marcia Grimes

The children will be the ones who teach you at the end. Patience.

—Denisse A-Hernández

I share my faith with teens, and I love the challenge. Even though I start with a plan and multiple ideas to convey, I hope to pick one point to bring home and then listen to the students who want to just be the best they can be at that point in their life.

—Mary Jo Meyer

Love the little ones, for the catechist is their first experience with meeting Jesus. By the end of the year more kids are asking mom and dad to take them to Mass, and parents ask you to pray for them. I have seen tears of thankfulness in their eyes when I tell them I have been praying for them and their child all year long. Pray weekly before class, preferably before the Holy Sacrament. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you to touch their hearts and enkindle a fire of love for the Lord.

—Tammy Fredrickson-Kohls

I’ve been teaching for more than 27 years—everything from kindergarten to high school…I have taught four different classes some years. We are all on a faith journey rooted in the Gospel and Christ’s promise of eternal life.

We meet parents and children in all various stages of faith, and we must be open to the fact that they’re all willing to learn!

I’m the mother of six, and my husband and I do our best, but I must admit there are stages in life where we as parents are in the spiritual desert. We rely on the catechists to add to what we do at home, but my husband and I realize we are church to some of our precious souls. We always try to keep it real!

—Pamela Long Faletra

Well, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have taken this advice, because I would have been too nervous, but I would say “Get out of your comfort zone and try something new. The Holy Spirit will lead you to really interesting places.”

—Kathleen Horrigan Butler

That it’s a long-term commitment because you will never want to stop doing it once you start! I love it.

—Caterina Spilletti Caruso

What would you add to the list? Whether you are a veteran of one year of teaching faith formation or 50, what do you wish someone had told you before you became a catechist?

Consult the Effective Catechist section of the Finding God Catechist Guide for practical tips and support in your role.

About Denise Gorss 115 Articles
Denise Gorss is a catechist with more than 20 years experience, mostly in junior high. She appreciates the gifts of Ignatian spirituality and likes sharing various types of prayer with the young people in her groups. She enjoys seeing the world on pilgrimages and lives in the Chicago area, where she works as Web Editor at Loyola Press.


  1. Thank you Denise! I have a new catechist training tomorrow and will pass this on to them! Great advice!

  2. If you want to continue in this ministry….. you will have to move to other parishes or move to other grades. The directors will not let you stay in one grade level or they have other plans for you.

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