Seating Arrangement

For every class this year, my 8th graders have been sitting in desks (with chairs) that are arranged in rows. Last Monday, I raced to get there a minute or 2 earlier (we have only 15 minutes between sessions to get our class ready) and I carefully moved the rows aside to create a space in the middle of the room. I used one desk to create a prayer center and arranged 13 chairs in a […]

The Art of Blessing

To bless someone is to communicate one’s life, strength, and authority to another. To be blessed by God is to share in God’s life, strength, and authority. In this Sunday’s Gospel, we hear Luke’s version of the Beatitudes (Luke 6:17, 20-26) in which Jesus describes those human conditions in which God’s life, strength, and authority are truly found.  As catechists, we need to remind those we teach that they are blessed by God – through […]

Seven Habits of Highly Effective Catechists

I’m sure you’re familiar with Stephen Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People (if not, I highly recommend it!). Well, tonight I’m speaking to catechists at a neighboring parish and I’ve decided to focus on seven habits of highly effective catechists. I firmly believe that the most effective catechists excel in the following areas: Ongoing formation – they never stop learning about and growing in their faith. Planning and Preparation – they prepare their […]

Give Me One Good Reason…

It occurred to me last night after class that we want our students to remember SO MANY things in religious education, that I wonder sometimes if they remember anything! Our lessons have numerous learning outcomes/objectives, vocabulary words, names of saints and holy people, doctrinal formulae, and so on, not to mention the myriad of announcements and interruptions that occur on any given night. And all this, after the kids have been bombarded by tons of […]

Hope is Our Fuel

No doubt many of my students will be down in the dumps tonight, saddened by the Bears’ loss in the big game. It’s a strange thing how people identify with teams and “live and die” with them. I couldn’t help but think about the role that HOPE plays in our lives. Over the past few weeks, HOPE reigned in Chicago because of the possibility of a Superbowl championship. As a result, people in Chicago were […]

A Catechist's S.O.S.

Here is an e-mail I received from a catechist who is seeking support in the midst of a difficult situation. I’ve responded to her personally with my suggestions. With her permission, I’m posting it here with the hope that catechists more familiar than I am with teaching pre-school, K, and primary ages might respond. I’ve also changed her name…we’ll call her Natalie. To respond to Natalie, just click on “Add a Comment” at the end […]

God, Sports, and Religious Education

I’m from Chicago, a BIG sports town (bigger than ever this week with Da Bears in Da Superbowl!). Often, sports can be a thorn in the side for catechists: students miss religious ed. classes because of games, tournaments, and practices and, worse yet, they and their families often miss Mass on Sunday because of games and tournaments. These are serious issues that need to be addressed. On the other hand, I’m a huge sports fan […]

A Rewarding Experience

In her comment on my January 29 post, Ali says: “Prayers are much more to be memorized, they should also be written on our hearts. It sounds like a wonderful way for you to gauge both. By having an exchange like you described, I can only imagine it will be as rewarding for you as will be helpful for the children.” You’re right, Ali, it was (is) very rewarding. Yesterday I had the opportunity to […]

How Closely Do You Follow Your Textbook?

We catechists are blessed in this day and age to have many fine catechetical textbooks from a variety of Catholic publishers. The General Directory for Catechesis reminds us however that there is no substitute for the person of the catechist. I know that when I teach, I think of my text book as a guide and a resource but I also do a lot of “ad lib” and bring in a variety of activities that […]

The Role of the Male Catechist

I mentioned to Kathy (see comments on Catechist’s Role Description) that I didn’t think I could be a good 1st grade catechist and I admire those who are. Very few men are catechists in the first place and when they are, like me, they predominantly serve junior high. I’m often concerned about catechesis being either too feminine or too masculine, depending on the catechist. Perhaps the solution is to have more team-teaching with male/female catechists […]

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