About Denise Gorss
Denise Gorss is a catechist with 18 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.

How Jesus Responds to Suffering (VIDEO)

We know the Stations of the Cross as a traditional Lenten devotion, but how can we connect the Way of the Cross to our lives? Author Gary Jansen suggests that by walking through each station, we see the unique ways in which Jesus responded to suffering, and we are challenged to react similarly in our own struggles. Jansen writes: Though Jesus seems passive throughout his Passion—he never lifts a finger against anyone and he barely […]

Sometimes the Young People Surprise Me

Sometimes the young people surprise me. Such was the case at the beginning of Lent, when I led a session on the season that focused on Christ’s temptation in the desert. I asked the young people what they already knew about Lent. An informal assessment of their previous knowledge, the question gave the students an opportunity to tell me things such as the season was 40 days and that they got ashes on Ash Wednesday. […]

Games in Lent

After a successful session with Advent Bingo, a catechist asked me whether Lent Bingo existed. While I don’t have a formal game board for that, there’s no reason we catechists can’t play Lent Bingo and other Lenten-themed games with our groups. While Lent is seen as a more solemn season than others in the liturgical year, and rightly so, there’s no reason we can’t lighten the mood in our classrooms with a game, even as […]

Gathering Activities

Grabbing the attention of young people can be challenging when they go straight to their classrooms after being dropped off. With young people arriving in staggered fashion, straggling in one at a time, we need to have something for them to do as they arrive. Enter the gathering activity. What’s What? Page—Finding God Grade 7 includes a review page at the end of each chapter. Sometimes I use these as a pre-assessment before the session […]

Incorporating Movement into Faith Formation Sessions

One of the young people in my group asked if we’d be moving around at all during the session. It hit me as a necessary reminder that I need to be intentional about incorporating movement into my sessions. While not every session has elements of movement that bodily-kinesthetic learners might appreciate, I try to include varied activities such as: Learning Stations—I’ve been incorporating sacraments learning stations into my classes for several years now, and last […]

Patience with Quiet Students

Being a catechist requires patience. Some years it’s patience with behavior issues, and other years it’s patience with a class that’s too quiet. Let me explain. When discipline issues arise, there are a number of strategies for managing classroom behavior. But when young people are well-behaved yet non-participatory, we need different strategies, which we often don’t hear much about. The overreaching strategy to working with young people who don’t want to join in discussions or […]

Praying with a Classroom Visitor

The DRE told me that one of the parish priests would be stopping by sometime during class to talk to the young people about becoming altar servers. He was visiting several classrooms, and I didn’t know how much time he would spend in each one nor the order in which he would visit. So I started class knowing that at some point we’d have a visitor, though I didn’t know exactly when. Of course, he […]

Planning the Year’s Calendar

Some years are easier to plan out than others when it comes to the sequence of lessons in faith formation. This year, however, proved to be more difficult than usual. In my parish, the catechists have the flexibility to teach lessons in the order that works best for them. The DRE advises us to make sure our sequence of lessons coincide with the high points of the liturgical calendar. So I sat down with my […]

Coloring Pages with Older Students

Another catechist had a coloring page he recommended—“except for the older kids, of course.” I, as the seventh-grade catechist, took the page anyway. While I never want to bore or insult the young people with an activity that is too young for them, I have found coloring pages to be useful activities from time to time. A simple outline to color can help make a point in a learning station, such as an image of […]

Three Essential Presentation Skills for Catechists

Communication and presentation skills may not be the first skills that come to mind when thinking about the qualities of a good catechist, but they are key elements for catechists to consider as they approach their classes. Here are three presentation factors to reflect on as we prepare for a new year of faith formation. Emphasis in Reading the Word Have you ever been to a Mass when the lector wasn’t well prepared and the […]

1 2 3 4 10