Our parishes include people in all stages of their faith journey. While each Christian shares certain characteristics in their spirituality as children of God, there are differences. Every person’s spirituality is unique, because each of us is a unique human being. Differences can depend on education, formation, geographical location, age, ethnic background, and so on. Each of us is at a different stage of growth in our spiritual life. How can catechetical leaders accommodate catechists who are at different points on their journey of discipleship? Here are some ideas to get you started.
Use a team approach.
Cultivating a team approach to your catechetical efforts is critical. If we treat our catechetical teams as a small Christian community, they will grow together. They will learn how to cultivate a community that supports the faith of each of its members. Provide quality experiences for multiple and varied conversion experiences and forums where catechists can discuss their faith. In addition to gathering catechists throughout the year for training and development, consider reading a book together during Advent and Lent. This will emphasize the necessity of personal and team growth. Gather the catechetical team to discuss and reflect upon various aspects of the book.
Formation enables adults to move from being passive bystanders in their faith to active, full, and conscious witnesses to their faith. Formation can be both formal and informal. Make a point of finding out what specific areas your catechists would like to grow in, and tailor their formation accordingly. Meet with catechists individually, and compile personalized resources for each catechist in a specific area of the Church’s teaching to nurture and encourage each catechist in the journey of discipleship.
Building trust with your catechists and catechetical team comes through consistent experiences where there are openness, honesty, and transparency. Listen attentively, seek input often, and ensure that catechists are a part of important conversations about the direction of the parish faith formation program. Building trust is the key to catechists who are successful and confident in the classroom.
Support and affirm.
Spend time with your catechists outside of the parish. When catechists feel supported, they will model that support for their students and their families. Take them out for coffee, remember birthdays, and celebrate their joys and sorrows. Send cards and notes of affirmation and support, particularly when they have had a difficult experience in the classroom or when they have had a triumph. Be sure to appreciate your catechists in both word and in deed.
Provide online support.
Provide opportunities to connect with your catechists and catechetical team online to discuss the Catholic faith. Many catechetical teams connect through online platforms such as Facebook groups to pose questions, share concerns, and support one another. Such groups can be especially helpful for those who have children at home and have a little time in the evening when they would like to discuss faith with others.
Practice and engage in the spiritual and corporal works of mercy with your catechists. Many faith formation programs build acts of service into their formation processes. While it is important to mentor and lead these opportunities for our young people, it is also important that we participate in the corporal and spiritual works of mercy ourselves. Spend some time with your catechetical team reflecting upon a project in which you can serve together, and share your learning with others, including your students.
Do you have ideas for helping your catechists to grow in discipleship? If so, share your ideas here!