Collaborating with Catechists

collaboration - teamwork hands

The Vietnamese Holy Martyrs Catholic Community in the Diocese of Honolulu have an annual youth camp. The core team had finalized their plans for 2018. The campsite was booked; the program content was finalized; the activities and their optimum placement were all mapped out: prayer service in the chapel, sessions in the common room, outdoor grilling for lunch, a Scripture-themed scavenger hunt on the playing field, skits and s’mores around the outdoor fire pit.

Now if only the weather would cooperate. The day before, they listened intently to the weather forecast, hoping that the band of heavy rain would remain south as predicted.

It didn’t.

They faced everything from light showers to heavy downpours. As the core team stood together at the campsite and stared toward the heavens as ominous clouds began to engulf the sky, the catechetical leader could sense their disappointment.

He turned to the team and said, “Do we believe that this camp will help our youth experience Christ in new ways and strengthen their relationships with one another? Yes? Then what we’re saying is that we hold these values in common. We agree that they are important.

“Do we trust each other enough to listen to new ideas and make some new plans together? Yes? Then let’s pray and bless each other, because it seems that God is encouraging us to get creative. I know that you all have incredible talents and connections, and I trust in our ability to come up with ways to collaborate around a new vision, especially for the outdoor activities.”

The team members rallied and activated their skills in meaningful ways such as:

  • contacting a parishioner who offered to deliver and set up several large canopy tents to protect the outdoor grills (networking skills);
  • creating an indoor version of the scavenger hunt (organization skills);
  • texting and calling families to confirm that the event was still on, encourage attendance at what was sure to be an awesome experience, and remind them to bring umbrellas (communication skills); and
  • making arrangements to relocate a portable fire pit to a covered patio area where the skits and s’mores could take place (facility-use skills).

Collaboration happens when a group of people examine an issue and contribute workable solutions that couldn’t be achieved on their own. They rally around a shared vision and generously offer their gifts and talents to produce innovative, quality results. When catechists feel that they contribute to the bigger picture, their retention levels tend to be high.

Retaining catechists through collaboration takes time to develop. It’s highly relational and may leave you feeling a bit vulnerable and out of control. But with shared values and mutual trust, co-laboring can result in retaining catechists and a ministry filled with creative new outcomes.

This catechetical leader’s desire to support his catechists through collaboration yielded great results. In the end, it was a magnificent retreat.

How do you encourage collaboration among your catechists? When have you worked together to overcome challenges that face your catechetical team?

About Jayne Ragasa-Mondoy 7 Articles
Jayne Ragasa-Mondoy serves as Director of Religious Education for the Diocese of Honolulu, which is comprised of the six major islands in the state of Hawaii. Born and raised in Honolulu, Jayne began her professional career in corporate management in the San Francisco Bay Area while remaining steadily involved in parish catechetical and liturgical music programs. Jayne, and her husband and daughter, returned to Honolulu where Jayne earned a master's degree in pastoral leadership from Chaminade University of Honolulu. Her perspective of volunteer recruitment and management is shaped by her lengthy experience in working with and leading volunteers in diocesan and parish catechetical ministries, as a high school teacher and administrator, and as a governing board member for local Catholic and private schools and the National Conference for Catechetical Leaders (NCCL).​ She is the author of Cultivating Your Catechists, part of the Effective Catechetical Leader series.

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