Three-Dimensional Formation of Catechists

The Wai’anae and Ko’olau volcanic mountain ranges flank the Hawaiian island of Oahu. Miles of scenic hiking trails wind through their ancient forests and majestic peaks. Some trails are easy and child-friendly, others steep and strenuous. One trail in particular requires great stamina to conquer: the Koko Head Crater Steps. The stairs (pictured above) are remnants of railroad ties from the World War II era, built to haul munitions to the crater’s 1,200-foot summit. It’s […]

The Key to Effective Family Catechesis: Adult Faith Formation

Recently, I shared information about our exciting new Family Catechesis programs from Loyola Press. I can’t emphasize enough that the key to an effective family catechesis program is the formation of the parents and that, if you are taking the time to form parents well as part of a family catechesis approach, you have “killed two birds with one stone”—you have not only introduced a new model for children’s faith formation, you have successfully implemented […]

Advent in Action: Bringing a Calendar to Life

Catechists and Catholic school teachers are responsible for what can seem like daunting tasks each liturgical season: being creative with lessons that get children excited and involved, and incorporating technology in the classroom. Keven Rinaman of Calvert Catholic Schools in Tiffin, OH, took an approach during Advent 2016 that included both efforts. As Director of Technology and former teacher at Calvert Catholic, Rinaman came up with an Advent calendar project after brainstorming with Barb Gilman […]

Relaxing Prayer

I prepared my students to pray with a guided reflection, telling them that using their imaginations to have a conversation with God might take some practice. I gave them permission to “not get it” the first time. This was important for establishing trust and tone. I then played the “Called by Name” prayer track from the CD that came with our Finding God program and sat down with my students to participate in the imaginative […]

Active Learning That “Sticks”

I’ve always been a proponent of active learning—making sure that learners are actively involved in the process of accessing new information—and I’ve written about this here previously. Now, let me give you a specific example that I find very effective. Ever since I was a kid, I’ve loved stickers! Who doesn’t? I know that my wife and I found stickers to be one of the best ways of keeping our kids occupied on car rides. […]

Saints in the Classroom

My classroom is filled with statues, icons, and pictures of saints. These holy men and women who lived heroic lives of virtue and great charity constantly inspire me. I hope they inspire my students too. I am always looking for ways to help my students learn about the saints. Our school celebrates All Saints Day with a kindergarten parade. They dress up as their favorite saint or as a saint who shares their name. (The […]

How to Prepare for Class

“Before anything else, preparation is the key to success,” said Alexander Graham Bell—and so says any catechist who wants to be effective. But how do we prepare for class, especially when we might have just a few minutes before each session? I’m not talking here about planning the session in terms of what to teach and what techniques to use, but the immediate preparation on class day before the young people arrive. Here are five […]

Sacramental Preparation Should Rely on a Language of Mystery

When my mom was 13 years old and unbaptized, she hung around with her best friend Ramona who, like the rest of her family, was a practicing Catholic. Once, when my mom went with Ramona’s family to Sunday Mass, she observed them all go up to receive Communion and come back to their places to kneel in prayer with a look of joyful contentment on their faces. After Mass, my mom asked Ramona’s mother, “What […]

Beatitudes and the Catechist: Blessed Are They Who Mourn

This is the second article in a series exploring the Beatitudes as they relate to being a catechist. “Blessed are they who mourn, for they will be comforted.” (Matthew 5:4) Happy are the catechists who can take time to be with God, for they will find the joy of knowing God’s love. A few weeks ago, I attended a catechist training at my parish. We went over safety procedures and were shown how to use […]

Being a Catechist in Two Parishes

I first volunteered to be a catechist 14 years ago at my home parish of Mary, Mother of the Redeemer when my son was preparing for his First Holy Communion; a few years later, a friend mentioned that our neighboring parish, St. Jude, was in need of additional catechists. I volunteered to be a substitute catechist, but soon became a regular catechist there, where I also prepared children to celebrate First Holy Communion, which has […]

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