About Joe Paprocki
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 www.catechistsjourney.com.

In My Thoughts and In My Words…

Sin begins in our thoughts. It’s no accident that, at Mass during the Penitential Rite, we ask forgiveness beginning with admission of those sins we’ve committed “in my thoughts” and then we add, “and in my words, in what I have done, and in what I have failed to do.” Repentance involves thinking. That’s the primary reason that we practice fasting during Lent – not because food is bad but because eating involves thinking and we […]

Lent: So What’s Up with the Number 40?

“These forty days of Lent, O Lord, to you we fast and pray…”  We all know that Lent has 40 days but it may cause us to wonder about the significance of the number 40. Did you know that the number 40 appears in the Bible nearly 200 times?!!! What’s up with that? In the Bible, the number 40 is symbolic and represents a significant period of time during which an individual’s faith is tested. So, what […]

Jesus, You’ve Got to Be Kidding!

This Sunday’s Gospel about love of enemies ranks #1 in what I refer to as the “Jesus, you’ve got to be kidding” category. Now, I know that Jesus is not kidding, but I believe that the typical initial human reaction to Luke 6:27 is just that: utter dismay. I once asked a group of students, after reading this passage, if they “buy it.” They looked at me like I had 3 heads, primarily because no […]

The Communion of Saints

Today is my (deceased) Dad’s 86th birthday. I’m going to Mass with my Mom and then out to eat to celebrate Dad’s life. I think of him often and have many dreams about him (he passed away nearly 10 years ago). I find great comfort in the Catholic understanding of the Communion of Saints and I feel my Dad’s presence in my life in an ongoing way. I think that the Communion of Saints is […]

Seating Arrangement

For every class this year, my 8th graders have been sitting in desks (with chairs) that are arranged in rows. Last Monday, I raced to get there a minute or 2 earlier (we have only 15 minutes between sessions to get our class ready) and I carefully moved the rows aside to create a space in the middle of the room. I used one desk to create a prayer center and arranged 13 chairs in a […]

Another Lenten Idea

Here’s another simple idea to use to draw attention to the focus of Lent. Ask all of your students to stand up and, on the count of three, to point north. Inevitably, there is some confusion…not all have their bearings! Explain that we can rely on a compass to help us get a sense of direction. Make a simple home-made compass. You will need a magnet, a sewing needle, a shallow aluminum baking pan filled […]

A Modest Proposal

I wonder how it is that we settled on the model of one catechist per 12-15 students for religious education.  It occurs to me that if we really wanted to invite young people into an apprenticeship in the Catholic way of life, that we would surround them with more adults. I see no reason why a “class” of 12-15 young people couldn’t be accompanied by 4 or 5 adults.  I know that DREs will say that it’s […]

Hooking Your Students – An Idea for Lent

I’m a firm believer in doing short transitional activities (3-5 minutes) in religious education that engage the students and act as segues into the “meat” of the lesson. They act as attention-getters or “hooks” that make a connection for the students. Here’s an example of one such activity that can be used to introduce the season of Lent: Select 4 or 5 students and hand each of them some paper plates, paper cups, and plastic ware (or anything […]

Obama Must Have Read My Post

I get the feeling that Barack Obama must have read my February 5 post about HOPE! In his announcement about running for president, he latched onto HOPE as his theme, saying (in reference to Abraham Lincoln)… “The life of a tall, gangly, self-made Springfield lawyer tells us that a different future is possible,” Obama said. “He tells us that there is power in words. He tells us that there is power in conviction. That beneath […]

The Art of Blessing

To bless someone is to communicate one’s life, strength, and authority to another. To be blessed by God is to share in God’s life, strength, and authority. In this Sunday’s Gospel, we hear Luke’s version of the Beatitudes (Luke 6:17, 20-26) in which Jesus describes those human conditions in which God’s life, strength, and authority are truly found.  As catechists, we need to remind those we teach that they are blessed by God – through […]

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