Preparing for First Holy Communion

Every year, the number one question from my second graders as they prepare for First Holy Communion is, “Mrs. Coleman, what does it taste like? My brother said it tastes like paper.” My typical response to this concern is, “Does your brother often eat paper?” My concerns as a catechist are a bit different than the children’s. The closer we get to First Eucharist, the more I worry: Are they ready? Do they truly understand? […]

Why Some Kids Just Can’t Sit Still—And Shouldn’t

“Sit still!” What catechist, teacher, or parent hasn’t uttered those words to a squirmy child? Some children simply love movement and thrive on experiencing reality through bodily movement. For them, sitting still is akin to closing their eyes to a reality that they prefer to access through movement and experimentation. Their constant movement is not necessarily an inability to pay attention but is a desire to use their bodies to experience life. Experts refer to […]

Transforming Your Catechist Aide into an Apprentice

Recently, I was talking with an administrator of a Catholic high school who was telling me what a difficult time they were having finding a qualified teacher for the their Religion Department. We, as a Church, are not doing a very good job of encouraging vocations—not only to priesthood and religious life, but also to pastoral ministry in general. There is no clear career path for someone to end up as a catechetical leader or […]

Catechists as Echoes (Part IV): Echoes of Mercy

This is the final article in a series about the word catechist, which comes from the Greek word, “to echo.” The Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy (2015–16) was an opportunity for the Catholic Church—and for each one of us—to reflect on the merciful love of God the Father (Luke 6:36). Holy doors were opened in every diocese throughout the world as symbols of hope, healing, and love to announce the mercy of God, “the beating […]

Moving to a Family Catechesis Model

We human beings tend to be resistant to change. Our brains are wired in such a way as to take the path of least resistance, which means that the brain likes to develop habits and routines and stick with them. The longer we’ve been practicing a certain habit or behavior, the more difficult it is for the brain to change. When it comes to children’s faith formation, we have developed some practices and habits over many […]

Aren’t We Blessed?

At a reception after the Easter Vigil, one of the newly baptized came up to me. He’s an eighth-grader and was prepared to receive the sacraments through RCIA for youth. I’ve only met him a couple of times, but he seems like a great kid. He had been invited to attend one of our religious education classes by a friend. A personal invitation by another teen is what started the process. God took care of […]

Story, Art, and Prayer in Holy Week

Holy Week presents a perfect opportunity for catechists to change what might be the usual format for the session and create a retreat-like atmosphere to explore themes from this climax of the liturgical year. I do that in my seventh-grade classroom by focusing on several prayer experiences and activities aimed at helping the young people grasp the story of Jesus’ Passion and Death. I’ve written before about Preparing for Holy Week in Junior High, but […]

How to Be a More Evangelizing Catechist #9: Mentor Apprentices

I often tell my audiences about the book Creating Customer Evangelists by Jackie Huba and Ben McConnell, not because I think they should read it, but because, as Catholics, we should be aware of the fact that a book that has nothing to do with faith, religion, or spirituality is using the word evangelists! The premise of the book is that customers should be so enamored with your product or service that they will become “outspoken […]

Auditory Learners: Whoever Has Ears to Hear, Let Them Hear!

Jesus famously said, “Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear!” (Mark 4:9) The truth is, some people learn best, not by reading, seeing, or doing, but primarily by hearing. In order for auditory learners to truly receive and integrate information, they need to hear it. If we as catechists rely on lecture, that will be good for auditory learners; however, we need to remember that only 30% of learners are auditory learners, so the lecture-only […]

Beatitudes and the Catechist: Blessed Are the Peacemakers

This is the seventh article in a series exploring the Beatitudes as they relate to being a catechist. “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” (Matthew 5:9) Happy are the catechists who live as God intends, for they can’t help but love the young people in their classrooms. I spent some time cleaning out my catechist’s bag earlier this week, and I came across some prayers written by the young […]

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