40 Ideas for 40 Days – Lenten Activities: A Sense of Direction

Ask all of your students to stand up and, on the count of three, to point north. Inevitably, there is some confusion…not all have their bearings! Explain that we can rely on a compass to help us get a sense of direction. Make a simple home-made compass. You will need a magnet, a sewing needle, a shallow aluminum baking pan filled with water, and a small piece of Styrofoam (2 in. x 2 in.) Hold […]

40 Ideas for 40 Days: A Declaration of DEpendence

Lent is a time for us to declare our independence from sins that have been impinging on our freedom and to declare our DEpendence on God! Prepare your own “parchment” to use as a Declaration of DEpendence. Here is a picture of one I prepared next to a replica of the real thing.  Any sheet of white newsprint will do. The thinner the paper, the better. I like to use a sheet from an easel […]

Winners of Finding God Video Contest Announced!

Here’s a chance to see some of the creativity of young people as they put together videos to visualize the meaning of finding God in their everyday lives. Congratulations to the winners! The videos entered in this contest showed creativity as students and teachers worked together to visualize the meaning of finding God in their daily lives. The Winners of the 2012 Finding God Video Contest are the following: First Place Finding God at St. […]

Teaching the Bible to 6th Graders Last Night

As one of my “catechist-at-large” responsibilities, I did an introduction to the Bible last evening with the 6th graders at Most Holy Redeemer parish in Evergreen Park, IL. It was a very enjoyable experience. Here are the details: There were about 30-35 kids present along with their 3 catechists and 3 aides. Each child had a New American Bible (although there were 2 different editions which precluded me from relying on page numbers. I don’t mind, […]

Legacy Mural Workshops

While in Green Bay, WI, last week, I met an artist, Connie Greany, who offers a unique way to reach people and allow them to express themselves through ceramic mural creation. The workshops she offers result in a beautiful mosaic created by the participants. She has a brochure (no Web site) that describes the workshops and provides information on scheduling and costs. You can contact Connie at 920-257-8597 or at cgreany@sbcglobal.net. Here are some pics she […]

The Catechist’s Toolbox Sweeps into Winnipeg, CA!

I received the most incredible unsolicited endorsement of my book, The Catechist’s Toolbox, from the Archdiocese of Winnipeg in Manitoba, Canada! The Director of Catechetics and Faith Formation, Judy Vermette, sent me the following. (the prayers she is referring to are the prayers at the end of each chapter). Hi Joe, The Archdiocese of Winnipeg and the Archdiocese of St. Boniface have collaborated to bring your book “The Catechist Toolbox” as the theme for a […]

9/11 Prayers for Peace

I received the following from Jennifer about what her class did on 9/11 to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the tragedy and to pray for peace. Great job, Jennifer! Joe, I thought you might appreciate what my 8th grade CCD class did on September 11.  I’ve copied the email sent to their parents.  I’m so proud of them.  Thanks, too, for The Catechist’s Toolbox and recent webinar on teaching jr. high classes which have been great […]

More About Art in Catechesis

The other day, I posted about the role of art in catechesis. I’ve received a few passionate responses (and I mean that with the most respect) that I want to share with you (I added some links). Thanks for the great conversation! Greetings Joe!  I disagree that “Catholic Art” has been pushed by the wayside…you just have to look for it and more importantly, when working with children, create an environment that supports their artistic efforts. […]

A Language of Mystery

Funny how a segue I had planned for my class this past Monday turned out to be one of the most significant moments of the entire session, thanks to one of my students and the Holy Spirit. I was seeking to introduce the concept of SIGNS and how we encounter Jesus through the signs we call the Sacraments. I invited 3 volunteers to come forward for a “contest.” I had 3 clear plastic cups on a […]

A Gift from Jesus

At the end of my workshop In Hartford, CT, on Saturday (speaking on leading guided reflections), a priest came up to chat with me. I hesitate to call him an elderly priest because, although he was obviously up there in years, he had such a youthful attitude that it made him seem quite young. Anyway, the priest was telling me how he’s been doing guided reflections in catechesis for many years and that one thing […]

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