Praying with Families in the Classroom

Prayer is essential for a relationship with Jesus Christ. One of the most important responsibilities we have as catechists is to help our students develop a life of prayer. I encourage my students to find ways to pray with their families, and to facilitate that I invite parents and younger siblings to be part of our prayer circle at the end of each class. While children haven’t yet learned to be self-conscious about prayer, parents […]

May I Speak to Vincent, Please?

This is an excerpt from Thrift Store Saints: Meeting Jesus 25¢ at a Time by Jane Knuth. September 27 is the feast day of St. Vincent de Paul and therefore, by association, it is also the feast day of the St. Vincent de Paul Society. There are still times when I get caught unprepared for a rush on a particular saint, but that’s not going to happen this September 27. I have ordered a box […]

Four Ideas for Setting Up the Classroom Environment as Sacred Space

Setting up a prayer center in the faith-formation classroom is a key element in establishing an environment of prayer. The visual reminders of our Catholic faith invite young people to remember to quiet themselves in the presence of the holy. While we all know that God is everywhere and we can pray at any time, a dedicated prayer center is a special place where young people can gather in the presence of God. But beyond […]

Kids Need Transition

For many kids, faith formation feels like just one more thing on their busy schedules. They hurry through their school day shuffling from class to class, race to extracurricular activities, squeeze in a meal (often fast-food), and get dropped off at religious education classes, where they are usually met with a flurry of announcements and activity. And here we are, as catechists, trying to get them to suddenly come face-to-face with the issue of their […]

Advice for New Catechists

Within two weeks of arriving from Ireland to live in Wisconsin, I found myself standing in front of a room full of tenth graders in a faith-formation classroom. As a new catechist and director of religious education, there were times when I definitely felt overwhelmed and a bit lost. But with mentoring, time, hard work, and patience, I found that I truly felt called to this ministry and that I sincerely enjoyed being a catechist. […]

Beatitudes and the Catechist: Blessed Are the Poor in Spirit

This is the first article in a series exploring the Beatitudes as they relate to being a catechist. “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:3) Happy are the catechists who can throw away a lesson plan, for they will respond to the needs of young people. One of my favorite things about being a catechist is lesson planning. I love coming up with activities and discussion questions […]

What’s the Big Idea?

I once took a course in homiletics (the art of delivering homilies and liturgical reflections). The professor often said, “Unless you can summarize the goal of your homily in one sentence, you have no business being in the pulpit.” He was serious about that. When each of us got up to deliver a practice homily, we were asked to tell the class our main goal in a single sentence. If we couldn’t, the professor made us […]

Discipleship Is a Relationship—Catechetical Sunday 2017

This Sunday, September 17, 2017, is Catechetical Sunday, with the theme of “Living as Missionary Disciples.” I’d like to take this time to offer my gratitude and affirmation for all catechists who have responded to the call to serve in this heroic vocation and this splendid ministry! For many of us, the notion of discipleship is still a bit of a mystery. What exactly does it mean to be a missionary disciple? It sounds like a […]

Grandparents and Grandchildren Go to Faith Camp

Grandparents can play a unique and important role in family faith formation. The General Directory of Catechesis describes the family as the primary place where catechesis takes place: “In this family catechesis, the role of grandparents is of growing importance. Their wisdom and sense of the religious is often times decisive in creating a true Christian climate.” (236) Pope Francis echoed a similar message in a tweet about grandparents: How important grandparents are for family life, […]

Classroom Prayer Corner

Every classroom should have a prayer corner. This is a special place used exclusively for prayer and reflection. Since I have 32 students in my third-grade class, I don’t have much space—my prayer corner is on top of a steel storage cabinet. With a little work, I’ve transformed it into a place that speaks of the beauty of our faith by decorating it with objects that capture my students’ attention. Some of these objects are […]

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