One of the frustrations I experience as a catechist is trying to get the young people to recognize the gravity of the material we are covering. One week, we were learning about the cross of Jesus. What could be more profound? A couple of students had the giggles that night and couldn’t seem to control themselves. I try to handle discipline problems with an even hand and a calm demeanor, but I admit that inside […]
I’m participating in a good discussion about liturgical catechesis at www.catechistconnection.net (site no longer live). Here’s my latest comments on liturgical catechesis in response to someone who defines liturgical catechesis the way I would define lectionary catechesis. “I think most people use the term lectionary catechesis to refer to what you’re talking about (lessons that flow from the Sunday Scripture readings). From my experience, liturgical catechesis is any form of catechesis that prepares one to […]
Be sure to visit Catechist Connection, a forum for catechists by catechists. It is administered by Elizabeth, from Northeastern Illinois, who describes herself in the following way: “I work in a K-5 elementary school part-time as a Media Clerk. I also teach 4th Grade CCD on the side. And yes, for those who are wondering… I’m a cradle Catholic and PROUD to be Catholic!” (go to www.catechistconnection.net).
In catechesis, we are always inches away from profound issues. Recently, I was collecting some confirmation assignments when one of my students told me that she hadn’t finished hers because “it was a bad week.” She wanted to know if it would be OK with the DRE if she turned in her material the following week. I urged her to be sure to do so. Several more times, she mentioned that “it was a bad […]
Working with eighth graders, I find that there seems to be no happy medium when it comes to their energy level. I can have them simply read from the text, which gets boring and makes them lethargic, or I can engage them in activities (my preference), which gets them overly excited and creates discipline problems! Sometimes, I feel like my own worst enemy: I get the kids engaged, and then I’m doing all I can […]
Some weeks, I feel like being a catechist is the greatest gift on earth and that I have influenced the lives of young people in profoundly significant ways. Other weeks, I feel like I’m completely inadequate and that I’m wasting my breath. Suffice it to say, there are ups and downs to being a catechist. What’s your greatest joy in being a catechist? What is the greatest challenge you face as a catechist?
When catechists ask me what is the most important advice I can offer to increase their effectiveness, I answer in three words: Plan! Plan! Plan! We tend to think that 95 percent of the task of teaching takes place in the classroom. Not so. As a student teacher back in college, I was taught (and I continue to firmly believe) that planning and preparation make up about 70 percent of the task of teaching. The […]
One more thing about the Advent Reconciliation Service from last week. As the service was winding down and most of the kids had gone to confess their sins to the priests, I saw one priest walk over to another priest to confess. I quietly directed a couple of kids to look over to see that priests go to confession too. One girl’s eyes nearly popped out and she whispered to me, “I thought priests are […]
I mentioned in an earlier post that some behavior issues, especially among the boys, had been an ongoing nuisance. Finally, during the class preparing them for reconciliation, I calmly read the riot act to them. I said, “We are talking about God! We are talking about Jesus! To laugh and make light of things during this class is to make light of our relationship with God.” I went on to explain that, like a coach, […]
In preparing the eighth graders for the Advent Reconciliation Service, I got into a good discussion with them about sin. Kids are full of questions about what “qualifies” as a mortal sin and what can be characterized as a venial sin. I was encouraged by how comfortable they were in asking questions about some very difficult subjects, such as violence, homosexuality, and adultery. One of the boys asked, “Is sex bad?” They all looked astonished […]