Sharing the Wisdom of Time Through Storytelling: Ann Menna

Over the years here at Catechist’s Journey, I have emphasized the importance of storytelling in the catechetical ministry. To that end, I am happy to share examples of people sharing their stories inspired by the book, Sharing the Wisdom of Time, which, in turn, inspired the Netflix series, Stories of a Generation with Pope Francis. In this video, Ann Menna, Deputy Secretary of Catechetical Formation for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, shares her reflections on the […]

Doing Arts and Crafts Projects in Short Class Times

Most catechists experience the crunch of time when teaching, knowing that they have a great deal of content to convey to their participants in a very short time. Sometimes, the notion of incorporating an arts and crafts project in a lesson just seems impossible given the time constraints! Thankfully, over the years, I’ve heard of a number of suggestions from catechists about how to accomplish this. Here are a few of their ideas: Provide children […]

Growing in Gratitude

In this series we will explore practices that can help us to develop a space for grace in our lives. As I explain in my book, Braving the Thin Places, the acronym GRACE can help us if we: G—Grow in gratitude R—Release regrets to rest and reset A—Authentic availability and acceptance C—Cultivate radical hospitality E—Embrace simplicity This article will focus on the first practice of GRACE, which is growing in gratitude. Encouraging our students to […]

Cultivating Peace in Our Classrooms in an Anxious World

We live in a fast-paced and increasingly anxious world that is clearly affecting the social, emotional, physical, mental, and spiritual health of children. Studies published in the Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics and based on data collected from the National Survey of Children’s Health indicate significantly increased rates of anxiety among children, youth, and young adults. Researchers found a 20 percent increase in diagnoses of anxiety for children ages 6–17 between 2007 and 2012. […]

Archdiocese of Philadelphia Adopts the Catechetical Formation Series for Basic Catechist Formation

For many years, the catechetical efforts of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia have been guided by the steady hand of Ann Menna, who just recently retired. (Congratulations, Ann!) I’m proud to say that one of Ann’s last actions as Director in Philly was to adopt the Loyola Press Catechetical Formation Series for basic catechist formation in the Archdiocese. I developed the Catechetical Formation Series as an online training and formation experience for catechists and others seeking to deepen […]

Gratitude Sticks

My students are a little different each year. Several years ago, my first graders all had something to say in our prayer circle. The next year’s class was much quieter (except for a fidgety few). When I saw a variation of a pick-up sticks game on social media in which players named things they were grateful for, my creative wheels started turning! I quickly had an idea to get my quieter-than-normal group to speak up […]

The Medium Is (Part of) the Message: Digital Resources for Faith Formation

Back in the 1960s, communications theorist Marshall McLuhan coined the phrase, “The medium is the message,” suggesting that the primary focus of communication is not the message but the medium itself. While I have personally concluded that McLuhan’s statement is hyperbole, I acknowledge that it contains an essential truth: the medium we use to communicate affects how people receive the content. As a child, I became a Chicago Cubs fan even though I lived on the […]

The Little Red-Haired Boy

I was sitting at my desk after checking in on each of the faith formation classes. An aide from the first grade came into the office with a young boy. He had bright red hair, freckles, and a scowl that said he knew he was in trouble. The aide told me that she and the catechist had tried everything to get this boy to behave in class—time out, sitting with the aide, making sure they […]

Forming Catechists, Part Three: Doing

Welcome to the final installment of our series on the three dimensions of catechist formation: Being, Knowing, and Doing, this time focusing on the dimension of Doing. When I was in college, I decided I wanted to become a teacher, and I wanted to teach religion at a Catholic high school. To achieve this, I double-majored in theology and history, and I also minored in education for the purpose of achieving a teaching certificate for […]

Forming Catechists, Part Two: Knowing

We continue our look at the three dimensions of catechist formation: Being, Knowing, and Doing, this time focusing on the dimension of Knowing. In their book, Soul Searching: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of American Teenagers, Christian Smith and Melinda Lundquist Denton suggest that the “de facto dominant religion” among today’s young people in the United States can be thought of as “Moralistic Therapeutic Deism.”  They surmise that this “religion” is characterized by the following beliefs: A […]

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