Child A or Child B?

This is a true scenario about people I know personally. Child A: Her parents were not practicing Catholics (both were baptized Catholic but did not attend Church). Her father was an alcoholic and was abusive toward her mother. She attended public school (both grammar school and high school) and was not enrolled in any form of religious education throughout her childhood. There was no prayer at home and no effort to teach any form of […]

When Being a Catechist is Not Easy

Sometimes being a catechist is not easy. OK, it’s NEVER easy being a catechist! When I get overwhelmed by the challenges we face, I like to remind myself that Jesus faced some pretty difficult “classroom situations” himself:   Matthew 13:57 (Jesus is rejected in his home town) Luke 4;28 (Jesus is thrown out of the synagogue and dragged to a cliff) Mark 11:27 (the crowds challenge Jesus’ authority) Luke 9:51 (a Samaritan town refuses to receive […]

In My Thoughts and In My Words…

Sin begins in our thoughts. It’s no accident that, at Mass during the Penitential Rite, we ask forgiveness beginning with admission of those sins we’ve committed “in my thoughts” and then we add, “and in my words, in what I have done, and in what I have failed to do.” Repentance involves thinking. That’s the primary reason that we practice fasting during Lent – not because food is bad but because eating involves thinking and we […]

Jesus, You’ve Got to Be Kidding!

This Sunday’s Gospel about love of enemies ranks #1 in what I refer to as the “Jesus, you’ve got to be kidding” category. Now, I know that Jesus is not kidding, but I believe that the typical initial human reaction to Luke 6:27 is just that: utter dismay. I once asked a group of students, after reading this passage, if they “buy it.” They looked at me like I had 3 heads, primarily because no […]

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 […]

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