About Kathleen Butler
Kathleen Butler is a long-time catechist at Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Washington, DC, where she freely admits she falls in love each fall with a new group of first-graders. She also mentors and trains other catechists in lively, interactive sessions.

Teaching Children to Pray the Rosary

I love teaching the Rosary to my first graders. The Rosary helps them learn important prayers, highlights Scripture stories, and keeps their hands occupied when we are sitting together in a circle. In May I hand out rosaries to each student, usually a week after they learn the Hail Mary. I explain that they were blessed by a priest earlier in the day. (One year, I actually took a photo of our pastor with his […]

New Approaches in the Classroom

I’ve had a nagging restlessness regarding my lesson plans. I’ve used them for some time, and they’re as comfortable as my favorite slippers, but I found myself wondering if I’m really bringing the same level of enthusiasm and preparation to my classes as I did when those lesson plans were fresh. I tried some new things last year, like hallway shepherds and prayer cubes, and they went over well. Those activities required extra preparation and […]

I Am a Catechist

Last spring, I checked something off my catechetical bucket list and attended the Los Angeles Religion Education Congress. I had my first “a-ha” moment within the first seven minutes, and more followed over the next several days. Jayne Ragasa Mondoy’s presentation on cultivating catechists was a lightning-bolt moment for me when she said, “We don’t do catechesis; we are catechists.” I often say to people, “I teach Sunday school.” Rarely do I say, “I am […]

Silent Prayer Circle

I like to vary how my class prays partly to give everyone more tools in their prayer toolbox, but also because not everyone learns or prays in the same way on a given day. When I teach about the Holy Family, I teach my first-graders simple signs in sign language (ASL), which we practice together. Thanks to YouTube, you can easily teach yourself signs and phrases in ASL. I have learned how to sign “thank […]

The Good Shepherd and Hallway Shepherds

When I pray with my first-grade students, I often tell them they have to listen for Jesus’ voice not with their ears but with their hearts. Granted, it’s an abstract concept for young ones to understand. This year, when I taught a lesson on the Good Shepherd, I decided to try something new. Before class, I slyly arranged for two of the fathers to wait in the hall and asked them not to tell their […]

How to Take Care of Yourself as a Catechist

Getting up early is my least-favorite thing to do. Yet on Sunday mornings, I spring into action, because I truly can’t wait to see my class. Staying fresh and motivated is important, and I work to make sure that I’m tending to my own development as well as my students’. Here are some ways I keep myself spiritually refreshed. Build in quiet time. Some days, it feels like I’m on the run from the time […]

Prayer Cubes for Lent

There are many opportunities to engage children during the season of Lent. I like to use this season to encourage the children in my class to develop a new prayer habit, especially a habit that they can bring home to their families. Last year my class used Lenten prayer sticks, which were very popular. I wondered why, and it dawned on me that having something tangible made prayer time hard to ignore. Parents could more […]

Inviting Parishioners to Help

“The more the merrier!” is my philosophy about volunteers in my religious education classroom. I’m always on the lookout for adults who will share their talents with the children. (I’m fortunate that the parents I ask rarely say no.) I ask my parents at the beginning of the year if anyone has a talent or skill to share. Parents who sew or play an instrument are good allies. Having a different person in the class […]

Praying with Little Ones

Last fall, Joe Paprocki provided 20 tips for catechists. The ninth tip stuck with me: as catechists, we are not teaching a subject, but we are facilitating an encounter with Jesus. All of us encounter Jesus in different ways on any given day, and our students are no different. Offering a variety of prayer experiences for children can open up new ways for Christ to work in their lives. When I’m praying with my first-grade […]

Letting Things Go in a Different Direction

Lesson planning is critical to the success of any class. With a solid plan, I walk into class more confident, but I build in flexibility in case an activity doesn’t work or if we run short (or long) on time. So, last year, when my Nativity lesson went off track, this flexibility allowed me to let go of my plan and respond to the needs of my students. The result was a powerful message about […]

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