St. Barnabas Family Catechesis: Learning About Catholic Identity

Finding God Family Catechesis tools

Yesterday, we had our March session of Finding God family catechesis, and our topic was Catholic identity (part of Finding God Unit 3, which focuses on the topic of Church). We had a very good session! Here are some highlights:

  • We welcomed back Patrick McGowan, our catechetical leader, after a medical leave. Patrick remained with me to do the parent session since Deacon Andy was unavailable. One of the catechists stepped in to Patrick’s usual role of escorting the catechists and children to the school for their lessons and supervising there.
  • Attendance was very good once again, and a few new faces were seen. Sometimes the new face is a parent or grandparent who hasn’t attended so far, and in some cases, it is a new family joining.
  • We began with a fun icebreaker that invited children to come up to the screen and find Waldo of Where’s Waldo? fame in the crowd. After three 15-second rounds involving three children each, Waldo was found. I asked, “Why is Waldo so hard to find?” One of the children answered, “Because he blends in with all the other people wearing red and white stripes!” Precisely! I then talked about how, when it comes to our Catholic faith, we don’t blend in. Rather, we stand out by the way we think, speak, and act as followers of Jesus.
  • We sent the children and catechists to the school to work on their sessions.
  • We got the parents to work doing a fun activity in which I told them to imagine they had been hired by a Hollywood director as a creative consultant to make recommendations for how to make a movie “more Catholic.” In particular, they were to recommend how to make the home of the main characters (a Catholic family) look more Catholic as well as how to include words and actions that reveal their Catholic identity. This is always a fun activity, and yesterday was no exception. Parents suggested a crucifix on the wall, some palms behind a cross or picture, a rosary hanging from a bedpost, the family praying Grace before a meal, and praying to St. Anthony when they lost something.
  • Patrick and I then expounded on five characteristics of Catholic identity (drawn from my book, Practice Makes Catholic) that make us stand out from the crowd: sacramentality, community, respect for dignity of human life, tradition, and a disposition of faith and hope.
  • The pastor, Fr. Donovan, joined us to share a few thoughts on the importance of teaching traditional prayers to our children, likening it to passing along family heirlooms.
  • At the end, Patrick explained and distributed rice bowls for the CRS Rice Bowl project so that families could work together to show our love to those in need.
  • I even got a parent to volunteer to invite me to observe a family faith formation session in progress at home so that I can report on it here on my blog. Stay tuned!
About Joe Paprocki 2748 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

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