Forming Catechist Enrichment Groups

small group

In her book, Cultivating Your Catechists: How to Recruit, Encourage, and Retain Successful Catechists (The Effective Catechetical Leader series), Jayne Mondoy reminds us that corporate America invests millions of dollars in coaching groups of individuals (employees or clients) to work together toward a common goal and to be fully engaged. The truth is, without engagement, people (especially volunteers) tend to burn out more quickly. In his book, Growing an Engaged Church (Gallup Press), Albert L. Winseman identifies three ways to make an immediate impact on the level of engagement of church members:

  1. Clarify the expectations of membership.
  2. Help your members discover what they do best.
  3. Create small groups.

I think these can (and should) be easily applied to catechists, who, without engagement, do indeed burnout quickly. Those catechists who persevere the longest are the ones who become more deeply engaged in the faith community. The best safeguard against constant turnover of catechists is to care for and nurture them. The three strategies above are helpful.

  1. Catechists need to have clarity on what is expected of them (more than just “teach the fifth grade”) in this vocation, as well as what they can expect in return!
  2. Catechetical leaders need to help catechists discover and develop their gifts through ongoing formation—not just completing courses to get a certificate, but true attention to personal growth.
  3. Catechists should be encouraged to form small enrichment groups (perhaps four to six catechists), dedicated to working together on their faith formation. In fact, if anyone in the parish should be in small faith groups, it should be catechists!

Such enrichment groups can meet informally at the catechists’ homes to select books to read and discuss together, seminars and workshops to attend, and online courses and webinars to participate in together. To get started, here are some resources I would recommend from the Loyola Press library for catechists to use in their small groups. The resources are organized according to categories normally required for catechist certification.

Teaching Skills

Jesus

The Catholic Faith

Scripture

Liturgy and Sacraments

Prayer and Spirituality

Mary and the Saints

Morality and Social Justice

Church

About Joe Paprocki 2246 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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