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.

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 […]

Will They Be Back?

My 8th graders were confirmed last weekend and then had Monday off (because of a state holiday in Illinois). This coming Monday will be the first post-Confirmation class and I’m curious to see who shows up. We’ve emphasized over and over that Confirmation is not graduation but is the beginning of a new chapter in their spiritual journey. I’m told that the return factor at the parish is pretty good but this is my first […]

Does Homework Work in Religious Education?

Some catechists give “homework” to their students and have success in getting them to complete it. This does not appear to be the culture in the parish I’m at. Things sent home with the kids tend to disappear into a black hole. I know that we’ve struggled with getting kids to bring their books to class (normally we keep their text books at the parish but we experimented with sending home their Confirmation books…only about […]

With So Much Self-Esteem, Who Needs Salvation?

In recent times, there has been a big emphasis in education on building self-esteem. This, of course, has carried over into catechesis (we begin teaching 3-year olds the refrain “I Am Special”). A recent study reveals, however that this emphasis has led to an increase in narcissistic tendencies. My concern is, if we are all so special, then who needs salvation? Of course, self-esteem is important. But so is humility. As Catholics, our self-esteem is grounded in […]

Please…No "Crash Courses" for Catechists

I recently heard a reference to a “crash course” for teaching religion. My understanding of a crash course is a course of study offered to people in an emergency or to people who really don’t want to commit over the long haul. That’s not how I see the role of a catechist. A crash course is the antithesis of life-long learning. A crash course suggests that we can get, in one small package or time period, what […]

Let Your Light Shine…Without Tooting Your Own Horn

This Tuesday evening, my wife and I are scheduled to volunteer at a homeless shelter. I plan to share this with my students, not to boast, but to help them see that service is a way of life for Catholics. They have just been confirmed and were required to complete a certain number of service hours. I want them to see that they weren’t just jumping through a hoop but were engaging in the Catholic […]

Catholics in a Secular World

My friend Sr. Julie writes: This morning I overheard some locker room talk at the gym. From what I could gather two of the women were school teachers. One mentioned that in her school (I don’t think it was Catholic) all of the religious holidays are no longer observed. Instead schools are going with national holidays such as International Women’s Day. While I am pleased that such national holidays are recognized, I do have some questions. […]

Supporting Our "Rookie" Catechists

Here’s an e-mail from a “rookie” catechist who is getting through his first year with the ups and downs that come with it. Luckily, it sounds like he has good support from his DRE, fellow catechists, and from the catechetical community that gathers here on my blog. Let’s hear it for our rookie catechists!!! Thanks for bringing “new blood” to our ministry! We’re here for you!    After reading your entry about from February 22nd about “When […]

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