Catechists Need Tools, Not Replacements

catechist at desk

I continue to see catechetical materials being published that promise to “do everything for you” when it comes to forming people in faith. The implied message is that “anyone can do it”—all you have to do is press “Play” on the DVD player, and a charismatic person on a video will ignite the fire of the Holy Spirit in the hearts of those observing. The catechist is all but replaced, reduced to a functionary who stands aside and allows a virtual catechist to attempt to transform hearts and minds.

That’s not how disciples are made!

At Loyola Press, we take pride in creating tools that equip catechists to mentor and apprentice young people into a life of discipleship. We want you to be the one who has the most significant impact on the hearts and minds of those you teach. The textbooks, DVDs, CDs, and other resources we offer are all designed to empower you to be a more effective catechist—not to replace you or to turn you into an observer while the resources do all the work!

A great example of this is the God’s Gift: Eucharist and Reconciliation program. While this program offers a bevy of outstanding resources, all of them are designed to support you, the catechist, not to replace you. Consider the following:

  • The God’s Gift Child’s Book with stickers (and the accompanying God’s Gift Catechist Guide) equip you with sound doctrine and engaging activities so that you can interact with children on a meaningful level.
  • The God’s Gift CDs provide music, Scripture stories, and guided reflections to empower and equip you to enliven your sessions and reinforce key concepts.
  • The award-winning God’s Gift Video Series makes you look better in several ways:
    • The God’s Gift Chapter-by-Chapter Tracks provide brief video segments in which master catechists reinforce key faith concepts that you’ve already taught (or will teach). Thus, they don’t replace you but rather echo you or pave the way for you. Watch a sample here.
    • The Informational/How-To Videos, in which yours truly leads viewers through an informative explanation of the rite, along with what to expect, helps you to identify those concepts that you will revisit over and over throughout the preparation period.
    • The dramas, in which the essence of each sacrament is presented through a heartwarming story, provide you with stories and characters you can continually refer back to throughout the preparation period.

I wrote a while back on whether robots will one day be able to replace catechists. I said it then, and I’ll say it here again: Only a human being can invite others into an engaged relationship with God. Only a human being can answer questions, guide conversation, or articulate the experience of mystery. Only a human being can lift up his or her heart to God and invite others to do the same. That’s why you, the catechist, is irreplaceable and why we at Loyola Press will continue to create resources that equip and empower you but do not replace you!

About Joe Paprocki 2344 Articles
Joe Paprocki, DMin, is National Consultant for Faith Formation at Loyola Press, where, in addition to his traveling/speaking responsibilities, he works on the development team for faith formation curriculum resources including Finding God: Our Response to God’s Gifts and God’s Gift: Reconciliation and Eucharist. Joe has more than 35 years of experience in ministry and has presented keynotes, presentations, and workshops in more than 100 dioceses in North America. Joe is a frequent presenter at national conferences including the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress, the Mid-Atlantic Congress, and the National Conference for Catechetical Leadership. He is the author of numerous books, including the best seller The Catechist’s Toolbox, A Church on the Move, Under the Influence of Jesus, and Called to Be Catholic—a bilingual, foundational supplemental program that helps young people know their faith and grow in their relationship with God. Joe is also the series editor for the Effective Catechetical Leader and blogs about his experiences in faith formation at www.catechistsjourney.com.

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