About Denise Gorss
Denise Gorss is a catechist with 19 years experience, mostly in junior high. She appreciates the gifts of Ignatian spirituality and likes sharing various types of prayer with the young people in her groups. She enjoys seeing the world on pilgrimages and lives in the Chicago area, where she works as Web Editor at Loyola Press.

Faith Reading Camp

Host a Faith Reading Camp for children at the parish, school, or right at home. Loyola Press makes it easy by providing a camp calendar with suggestions for five days of fun. Each day, wherever your camp is, read a children’s book together, complete activities based on the book, and pray for intentions inspired by the book’s themes. And since camp wouldn’t be complete without snacks, our calendar includes snack time suggestions inspired by the […]

Marian Treasure Hunt

Explore the highlights of Mary’s life with a fun treasure hunt. Designed to be used as a family activity at home, the clues lead children to think about the Annunciation, the Visitation, and more, as they follow directions to get to a final prize. The prize may include a book of Bible stories, a book on Mary, a plush figure of Mary, or anything else appropriate. Prepare children for the hunt by discussing the stories […]

The Question of Doubt

In a recent class, one of the young people asked if it was OK to doubt aspects of religion. I was happy for this question, because I think others probably wonder the same thing but are afraid to ask. I told the young lady it was absolutely OK—and normal even—to doubt, but that she also had to consider why she was having doubts about a particular issue. For instance, was the doubt due to struggling […]

The Shepherd’s Story Scripture Activities

From Psalm 23 to the Nativity story as told by Luke and more, shepherds appear in the Bible numerous times. Explore the role of shepherds in Scripture with activities inspired by the new children’s book, The Shepherd’s Story by Jimmy Dunne and illustrated by Ivan Kravets. “Shepherds in the Bible” invites young people to look up Scripture verses about shepherds and then express what they learn in creative ways. Younger children will enjoy the “Christmas […]

Seven Activity Types That Require No Materials for Participants

For those returning to classroom settings this fall, sharing supplies or handing out materials may not be options due to safety regulations. To help catechists facing this challenge, here are some ideas for activities that don’t require any special materials for participants. Prayer—Every session, no matter the format, should include prayer time. Guided reflections, lectio divina, traditional prayers, and intercessory prayer are just a few options catechists can lead for fruitful time with the Lord. […]

Summer Prayer Placemat

Before heading out to enjoy fun activities in nature this summer, pause to thank God for the gifts of the season. Our summer prayer placemat invites children to compose a prayer of thanks in a fun fill-in style. Pull out the big box of crayons, because even adults will want to spend time coloring the cute images and completing the activities on the sheet. Encourage families to pray the prayer together before enjoying breakfast, lunch, […]

Connecting Generations Choice Board

Encourage connections between generations with our new choice board that invites children to learn about and develop deeper relationships with their elders. Give children choices by asking them to select and complete a set number of activities from the board: three-in-a-row, any four, or whatever number you choose. Activities include options for children to interview their grandparents, write a song, make a chart, and more. Celebrate a loved elder’s birthday, honor Grandparents Day, or mix […]

When an Activity Doesn’t Work So Well

Sometimes when I add an activity I made up to the session, it works out great, but a recent session proved a reminder that sometimes it doesn’t. The chapter called for introducing the idea of different literary forms found in the Bible, as part of a discussion on apocalyptic literature and ultimately, the struggle between good and evil. I thought it would be fun to play a game to begin our session, so I came […]

Traditional Teaching Habits to Avoid

John Barone, co-author of The Adaptive Teacher: Faith-Based Strategies to Reach and Teach Learners with Disabilities, suggests Five Traditional Teaching Habits to Avoid in an article over at LoyolaPress.com. If you find yourself shushing learners, talking too much, or giving complex instructions, try Barone’s “Try this instead” tips in the article to be a more effective catechist. Read the article here. Also check out Barone’s 9 Strategies for How to Get and Keep Attention, a […]

40 Small Changes for a Big Year

Editor’s note: This week we’re thinking about small changes we can make for a big year in ministry. As we start a new calendar year, it’s a good time to look at changes we can make in our faith formation settings that will make the most of the time we have left with our groups. Here’s a list of small suggestions, most easy to implement. And these are ideas only, not a checklist. Please don’t […]

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