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.

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 […]

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 […]

Seven Habits of Highly Effective Catechists

I’m sure you’re familiar with Stephen Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People (if not, I highly recommend it!). Well, tonight I’m speaking to catechists at a neighboring parish and I’ve decided to focus on seven habits of highly effective catechists. I firmly believe that the most effective catechists excel in the following areas: Ongoing formation – they never stop learning about and growing in their faith. Planning and Preparation – they prepare their […]

Give Me One Good Reason…

It occurred to me last night after class that we want our students to remember SO MANY things in religious education, that I wonder sometimes if they remember anything! Our lessons have numerous learning outcomes/objectives, vocabulary words, names of saints and holy people, doctrinal formulae, and so on, not to mention the myriad of announcements and interruptions that occur on any given night. And all this, after the kids have been bombarded by tons of […]

Hope is Our Fuel

No doubt many of my students will be down in the dumps tonight, saddened by the Bears’ loss in the big game. It’s a strange thing how people identify with teams and “live and die” with them. I couldn’t help but think about the role that HOPE plays in our lives. Over the past few weeks, HOPE reigned in Chicago because of the possibility of a Superbowl championship. As a result, people in Chicago were […]

Catechists Deserve Respect

My (Feb. 2) post about “Natalie” is a good example of the lack of respect given to the role of the catechist. Catechists are not baby-sitters, den mothers, scout leaders, or lunch-moms/dads. Those are all roles with their own dignity, but to be a catechist is to have a vocation. When someone responds to that call to serve as a catechist, the Church owes her or him support, guidance, and formation. A friend of mine from […]

A Catechist's S.O.S.

Here is an e-mail I received from a catechist who is seeking support in the midst of a difficult situation. I’ve responded to her personally with my suggestions. With her permission, I’m posting it here with the hope that catechists more familiar than I am with teaching pre-school, K, and primary ages might respond. I’ve also changed her name…we’ll call her Natalie. To respond to Natalie, just click on “Add a Comment” at the end […]

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