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.

How Much Time is Enough?

Religious education classes at the parish where I serve as a catechist are 75 minutes. That’s not a bad amount of time although it really seems like 90 minutes would be more effective, especially to allow for more substantive prayer experiences. I think it would also be nice to have occasional “extended” sessions that last 2 to 3 hours, perhaps once a month or at least quarterly. Where is it written that classes must be […]

They Really DID Learn Something!

This past Monday, we gave an end-of-the-year assessment to our 8th graders that covers all of the basics of the Catholic faith: the Sacraments, the Ten Commandments, parts of the Mass, and so on. First, we spent the week before reviewing, especially the Ten Commandments, which far too many of the kids seemed fuzzy on. Then, we gave the assessment, and, I’m happy to report, they did very well on. There were a handful of […]

Road Trip

Tonight we will be giving our 8th graders a year-end assessment (test). I like the fact that this is done AFTER Confirmation so that it is not seen as a hoop to jump through to receive the sacrament. It will be interesting to see how they do. I’m going on a brief road trip with 3 of my brothers, visiting our sister in Columbus, Ohio. I won’t be posting for a few days. Talk to […]

Whose Name We Bear

I love the Opening Prayer for the 4th Sunday of Lent: “God our Father, your Word Jesus Christ, spoke peace to a sinful world and brought mankind the gift of reconciliation by the suffering and death he endured. TEACH US, THE PEOPLE WHO BEAR HIS NAME, TO FOLLOW THE EXAMPLE HE GAVE US: may our faith, hope, and charity turn hatred to love, conflict to peace, death to eternal life. We ask this through Christ our […]

Pizza Party

With the end of the program year coming up soon, Patti and I are thinking of planning a pizza party for our class following our last session. We’ve received the DRE’s blessing as long as we have permission slips, etc. (the pizza place is right across the street from the church!) Several catechists have commented on this blog that they have done similar things to bring closure to their time together. The program has a […]

What Can Go Wrong Will Go Wrong

From my experience as a catechist, I’ve compiled a list of the top ten things that can go wrong when teaching a class. These are not in any order. Do these resonate with your experience? What else would you add? Your audiovisual equipment either didn’t show up or doesn’t work You find yourself short on the amount of books, handouts, or materials needed You are emotionally and/or physically run down and can’t find the energy […]

The Apple Doesn't Fall Far…

Patti, my co-catechist, met the mom of one of our students who, to say the least, has been a handful. The mom expressed surprise that she hadn’t received a phone call yet this year since “I get a call from his catechists every year!” The mom went on to express her disdain for continuing classes after Confirmation saying, “I don’t see why that’s necessary.” Patti did her best to explain to her that Confirmation is […]

Taking the Bad with the Good

So 11 of my 14 students came back for class after Confirmation! I’m pretty happy with that because it is a typical weekly absentee rate. We had a good discussion about their Confirmation (once they got past saying “It was too long!”) and an especially good discussion about their service experiences. There are so many highs and lows during any given class. On the one hand, 11 students returned. On the other hand, only 4 […]

My Best Teachers Were Saints

I came across a good book for catechists and for teachers of any kind. The book is My Best Teachers Were Saints: What Every Educator Can Learn from the Heroes of the Church. Susan Swetnam does a fine job of showing how the saints can serve as a source of wisdom and empowerment for any teacher. In all, she identifies 52 role models – one for each week of the year – who provide insight […]

St. Patrick and the Trinity

Today is the annual Southside Irish parade in Chicago which kicks off the many celebrations of St. Patrick’s Day. I think for many Catholics, when they think of St. Patrick, they think of his 3-leaf clover metaphor for the Trinity. I suppose that helps for little kids, but what about us adults? Too often the Trinity is dismissed as a mystery that we can never understand. While we can never solve the mystery of the […]

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