Affirming Catechists Is Not Just a “Warm Fuzzy”

Thank you - words written on a garden scene

I keep a cartoon on my desk in my office that shows a mechanic leaning over a car engine while his boss stands looking over his shoulder, asking, “Did I tell you that you’re doing a good job?” The mechanic replies, “No,” to which the boss responds, “I didn’t think so.”

Affirmation is a tricky thing. With over 35 years of experience in ministry, I’ve learned not to rely on affirmation and to find it solely in the satisfaction that I have been faithful to the principles that guide and inspire my work. Having said that, when affirmation is offered, it is most welcome! Personally, I believe that affirmation is underrated. I believe that to affirm someone is to bless that person! It is a way of letting someone know that he/she and his/her efforts are recognized, appreciated, and validated.

As we transition from one catechetical year to another, I encourage all catechetical leaders to affirm the work that your catechists have done. Bless them! Catechists do not always receive affirmation from those they teach or from the parents of those they teach. To affirm catechists is much more than a “warm fuzzy”—it is a way of letting them know that they are fulfilling their baptismal call and of nourishing their vocations.

In her book, Cultivating Your Catechists (part of the Effective Catechetical Leader series), Jayne Mondoy asserts that affirming catechists is key to retaining them. Jayne suggests some of the following strategies:

  • Provide opportunities for catechists to be “promoted” (e.g. named a grade-level coordinator or an official mentor).
  • Affirm catechists through a prayer experience at the end of the year, and invite parents to be present to affirm them.
  • Ask the pastor to visit classrooms to affirm catechists in front of their students.
  • Celebrate catechists’ birthdays and anniversaries.
  • Offer hospitality and refreshments (even meals) when catechists gather.
  • Organize a celebration to thank catechists.
  • Publicly recognize them for their dedication.
  • Send notes, cards, e-mails, or texts to catechists thanking them for their service and affirming them for their dedication.

What are some of the ways you affirm catechists or have been affirmed as a catechist?

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.

1 Comment on Affirming Catechists Is Not Just a “Warm Fuzzy”

  1. Affirming Catechists article is another of your interesting articles. St. Michael the Archangel Parish does give Catechists appreciation for our work.

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