Service as a Catalyst for Missionary Discipleship

The corporal works of mercy play an important part in discipleship. When acts of service are planned to intentionally proclaim the Gospel and treat all people as if they were Jesus in disguise (see Matthew 25:34–40), they are a catalyst for initial and ongoing conversion. In her wisdom, the Church outlines a systematic and comprehensive process of evangelization and faith formation that nurtures conversion. This process of evangelization includes the following five stages. Pre-evangelization Initial […]

Assessment in Catechesis (Video)

If we are to teach as Jesus did, we must constantly be assessing, in a variety of forms, whether his present-day followers are grasping the knowledge and skills needed to be disciples in today’s world. In general, assessment takes three forms: formal assessment (quizzes, tests, essays), informal assessment (observation of each learner’s grasp of concepts by observing their participation in written work, group work, and group activities), and authentic assessment (providing opportunities for participants to […]

How Introverts Learn: Intrapersonal Learning

When delivering presentations, I often ask participants to raise their hands if they consider themselves an introvert. Usually about 40% of hands go up, to which I reply, “OK, almost half of you, and then a number of you didn’t raise your hand because you’re an introvert!” The truth is, I count myself in this category. Now, you may be surprised to learn that I am an introvert, but to be one doesn’t mean that […]

Using Visuals to Evangelize in the Classroom

The expression “a picture speaks a thousand words” is particularly apt for the culture in which we live. Image-intensive social media platforms promote sharing through memes, stories, and snippets of information that go viral. For young people, images are not a distraction from the central message but constitute the message itself. Authenticity and thoughtful imaging of the Christian message are particularly important for us as a Church. For those who are in a pre-evangelization stage […]

End-of-Year Reflection

Let the Lord define your life! This was our school-wide theme for the year, and it was a fitting theme for my classroom as well. As our year wound down, I once again realized that the Lord was in charge. The service projects and the textbook lessons laid out in August were perfectly suited to each of my third graders, even if we didn’t accomplish all I had hoped. I was very pleased with several […]

Learning by “Talking Things Out”—Interpersonal Learning

I have to admit that, as an introvert (technically speaking), I tend to cringe a bit when a facilitator or speaker tells us participants to turn to a neighbor or group of neighbors and engage in discussion. It’s just not my style. Of course, when I do follow instructions, I find that I meet some wonderful people and learn some amazing things! At the other end of the spectrum are people who are eager to interact […]

If a Young Mr. Spock Were in Your Religious Education Class

Sometimes I like to imagine what it would have been like to teach Catholic faith formation to either a famous or a fictional character. Recently, I thought to myself, “What would a catechist do if a young Mr. Spock showed up as a student in religious education class?” Of course, you remember Mr. Spock, the fictional character from Star Trek, who was half-human and half-Vulcan: an alien species that operated solely on logic and eschewed emotion. […]

Pentecost in the Classroom

Pentecost is often overlooked in my third-grade classroom. Because Pentecost falls on the seventh Sunday after Easter, the school year is usually over by the time we celebrate it. Still, I was determined to celebrate it with my third graders. After reading Kathleen Butler’s article on using art in the classroom, I decided to collect artwork related to Pentecost and show it to my students. I am fortunate to have a large interactive whiteboard in […]

Perseverance: I Will Try Again Tomorrow

When I do presentations for catechists all over the country, I like to ask how long folks have served in this role: newbies? Five years? Ten years? Once, as I kept going in five-year increments, a catechist in the front row continued to raise her hand as I sailed past 40, 45, 50, and 55 years! I finally asked her, “How many years have you been a catechist?” to which she proudly replied, “This is […]

Jesus: Not What the Church Teaches but Who the Church Lives

“But how do we know Jesus was an actual person and not just made up?” John, one of my tenth-grade students, asked. “I know what the Bible says, but do we have any other evidence?” As catechists we are often asked this kind of question, and it can catch us by surprise. The temptation when faced with a question like this is to offer a standard response such as, “Well, the Catholic Church teaches us […]

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