My "Last Lecture" (No, I’m Not Dying)

This coming Monday evening is the last session that I will be teaching this current 8th grade class (the following week is a closing Mass and awards ceremony). As part of my plan for this Monday, I’ve put together my own “last lecture.” By now, I’m sure you’re familiar with the YouTube phenomenon, Randy Pausch’s “Last Lecture” that he gave to his class as the Carnegie Mellon University after he had been diagnosed with pancreatic […]

2000 Years of Church History in 75 Minutes!

Last night, we introduced the 8th graders to the topic of Church history, by way of a Powerpoint presentation. All 5 classes came together once again and all 5 catechists divided up the presentation, each of us taking a time period and highlighting some of the major events that took place during that time. Throughout the presentation, the young people were filling in a worksheet with key names and dates. For me, the highlight of […]

Learning Stations on Jesus

I am preparing 5 learning stations on Jesus to use in my next session. The 5 learning stations are the following: The world of Jesus The people of Jesus The words of Jesus The actions of Jesus The death and resurrection of Jesus I’ve drawn these 5 categories from the book Jesus: A Gospel Portrait by Fr. Donald Senior (Paulist Press, 1992). I plan to make these available as PDFs for anyone interested. First, I […]

An Extraordinary Evening with Jesus of Nazareth

Last night, we had an extraordinary evening viewing a segment of Jesus of Nazareth. All of the 8th graders (5 classes) met in one of the parish “halls” – about 65 kids, 4 or 5 aides, and 5 catechists. Here are the details: the DRE had arranged the seating to form 5 “pods” so that each class was slightly separated from the others. This proved very helpful in keeping the kids focused and preventing them […]

Images of Jesus

I have a Powerpoint meditation on Images of Jesus that I put together a few years back and plan to use this upcoming week with my class. The presentation contains 82 images of Jesus that I’ve found from various sources. In all, the presentation is set to run about eight minutes long and I have it timed to two songs that I play on CD: “Jesus, the Lord” (St. Louis Jesuit) and “Hold on to […]

Sacred Space

No, I’m no talking about the excellent Web site I’m talking about creating sacred space in your “classroom.” In particular, I’m referring to the notion of inviting the children/young people to occasionally get out of their seats/desks and to find a place in the room where they can sit on the floor and be “alone.” I tell them that this will be their sacred space for the year and that, from time to time, […]

A Very Good Start!

Last night was my first class of the R.E. year and I couldn’t be more delighted with how things turned out! Here are the highlights: I arrived to discover that there is no period 1 class (5:30 – 6:45 pm) taking place in my room which means that I can get there nice and early each week and set my room up without rushing! I have a very large room this year…no desks…just tables and chairs. […]

More On The Dark Knight

Here is a link to a film discussion guide for Batman: The Dark Knight, offered by Sr. Katherine Feely, SND, who directs the Education for Justice project at the Center of Concern in Washington DC. The Web site ( provides print-ready catechetical resources on current social justice issues and Catholic social teaching. Here’s the discussion guide: thedarkknight08

Pastor Makes a Big Hit at Catechist Meeting

This past Monday evening was our first catechist meeting of the year and it came off very well. It was nice to see the other catechists on the 8th grade team as well as some of the other catechists from other grade levels that I’ve met over the years. The highlight of the meeting, however, was the pastor’s comments at the very beginning. He issued a challenge to all of us catechists saying that each of […]

A Definition of Insanity

Albert Einstein once offered the following as a definition for insanity: “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Too often, in catechesis, we fall into this trap. I was recently speaking with a junior high catechist who was lamenting the fact that last year, her kids were so quiet (not shy but recalcitrant) that it was painful to teach them. They refused to speak, save for one student. I was talking to […]

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