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 do we measure effectiveness in catechesis? How do we know whether or not we have achieved our learning outcomes? We may feel as though we’ve had a very good session. One catechist I know judges success on whether or not the participants “had fun.” That’s not a very reliable method of assessing whether or not someone has been further equipped to live as a disciple of Jesus. In catechesis, we are constantly assessing whether […]
I think that kids have a natural ability to pray and that they especially like reflective prayer. When Patti (my co-catechist) and I lead the young people in a guided reflection, they become very peaceful and seem to relish the time alone with their thoughts and with God. After one of our reflections, I told the young people that another word for reflective prayer is meditation. They were pretty impressed that they were learning how […]
Over the next couple of weeks, I’ll be taking aside each student and checking to see if he or she has taken to heart (memorized) a certain number of traditional Catholic prayers as spelled out by the parish curriculum. Before I do that, however, I plan to explain to the young people the importance and the value of knowing traditional prayers. Kids sometimes think that memorizing is a waste of time. But taking to heart […]
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 […]