Like the families we serve, catechists are a diverse group. We are of different generations (my fellow catechists include millennials, gen-X’ers, and baby boomers); we come from different backgrounds (some are cradle Catholics, others were baptized as adults, still others like myself came into full communion with the Catholic Church from another Christian tradition); and we grew up experiencing different cultural traditions (one friend of mine likes to share the traditions she learned from her Polish grandparents).
How can we as catechists bridge these divides to interact and share our wisdom? Here are a few ways:
Share your faith and life with other catechists. Whenever I meet with my fellow RCIA catechists, we spend about 15 to 20 minutes sharing our faith. This time helps us bond together not only as a team, but also as fellow pilgrims. You can find time to connect with other catechists by attend Mass together or connecting with them before or after Mass. Find time to pray together. Attend a retreat or workshop as a group. More simply, gather socially as a group—perhaps over a cup of coffee at a local café or at someone’s house.
Be a mentor. When I was first called to this ministry, I was blessed to have more experienced catechists inspire and help me. Now, I have the opportunity to do the same. I have taken new catechists—some who are younger and some who are older—“under my wing” and have shared with them the wisdom gained from my successes and failures in the classroom. You can be a mentor to new catechists by making yourself available to answer any questions this new catechist may have about lesson planning, ideas for activities, and prayer.
Allow young people to lead. My parish is blessed to have some young people who were recently confirmed volunteer as catechist aides. More than providing an extra pair of hands, these young people provide something precious: their wisdom and perspective. If you have a young person who helps you in the classroom, give her or him opportunities to participate in leading the class. Young people have wisdom of their own, and, with encouragement, they are equipped to relate to other young people in meaningful ways.
The better we can connect with other catechists, the better we will be able to connect with the families of the young people we serve. How do you foster community among your fellow catechists?
Find ideas for connecting the generations at www.sharingwisdomoftime.com, the companion website to Sharing the Wisdom of Time by Pope Francis and Friends.