Teaching Early Childhood Is Not Just Fun and Games

Whenever I would tell folks that my inclination is to teach older children—eighth grade or high school—some would remark, “Oh, I admire you for teaching the older kids. I could never do that. I teach the little ones.” In response, I would always say, “Oh, I admire you! I could never teach that age group!” And that’s the truth! I don’t have the gift of connecting with the “wee ones” of early childhood (pre-school, K, […]

What Lenten Hymns Teach

Editor’s Note: With Ash Wednesday fast approaching, today we highlight one of the activities from our popular 40 Ideas for 40 Days feature. While organized according to the 2019 calendar, the activities aren’t limited to just one day of Lent. Check out 40 Ideas for 40 Days here. Today’s Lenten activity is an opportunity for catechists to reach those young people who are more musically inclined, tapping into the musical/rhythmic intelligence of some of your students. […]

Gathering Activities

Grabbing the attention of young people can be challenging when they go straight to their classrooms after being dropped off. With young people arriving in staggered fashion, straggling in one at a time, we need to have something for them to do as they arrive. Enter the gathering activity. What’s What? Page—Finding God Grade 7 includes a review page at the end of each chapter. Sometimes I use these as a pre-assessment before the session […]

Sharing the Wisdom: Lessons from Mom on War, Peace, and Prayer

Twelve-inch painted ceramic statues of Jesus and Mary are permanent fixtures on the bedside table of my mother, Caridad Ragasa. The painted-on hair, cheeks, and hands are partially worn off, evidence of my mother’s daily caresses. As a child, I witnessed her kneel before the statues in prayer every morning and evening. I marveled at her persistent daily devotion, which for years I never fully understood. Finally, as a teen I asked, “Mom, when did […]

Sharing the Wisdom: Wisdom from My Aunts

My parents taught me the importance of spending time with our extended family. My parents are gone now, but my husband and I would visit my aunt Jean—my father’s oldest sister, who was also my godmother—twice a month until she died this past December. We would also visit my mother’s oldest sister Lorraine, but not as frequently, since she lived several hours away. Reflecting on the faith-filled lives of these women, I recall three lessons […]

Sharing the Wisdom: Stories from Grandma

My grandma may not have been an educated woman—she left school before finishing the sixth grade for health reasons—but she was wise. I recently shared with my family some of the wisdom stories she had left us: Family is important. Every year she went up north from Brooklyn, Michigan to Harrisville State Park, and we often joined her. I never knew why we went to this particular state park in Michigan. I later learned that […]

Sharing the Wisdom: What I Learned from an Elder

I’ve been seeing another woman for the last 15 years. OK, now that I’ve got your attention, this woman is 84 years old and she is my spiritual director, Maureen. I met Maureen after a presentation I gave about ministry burnout at a time when I was at a low point in my own ministry. I was considering the possibility of seeing a spiritual director to help me through the darkness I was experiencing when […]

Teaching Children About God’s Love

With the popularity of Valentine’s Day, February can be a great time to teach about God’s love for us and how he wants us to love one another. In many ways this is the basic message that underlines every session: God loves each of us. In our God’s Gift: Reconciliation book, Chapter 6 focuses on the Good Shepherd with the parable of the lost sheep. This is a perfect parable to focus on God’s love […]

Inviting Parishioners to Help

“The more the merrier!” is my philosophy about volunteers in my religious education classroom. I’m always on the lookout for adults who will share their talents with the children. (I’m fortunate that the parents I ask rarely say no.) I ask my parents at the beginning of the year if anyone has a talent or skill to share. Parents who sew or play an instrument are good allies. Having a different person in the class […]

The Power of Witness and Appropriate Self-Disclosure in Faith Formation

St. Paul VI once wrote, “Modern man listens more willingly to witnesses than to teachers, and if he does listen to teachers, it is because they are witnesses.” (Evangelii Nuntiandi) As someone who recently transitioned from youth minister to third-grade teacher at a Catholic school, I’ve been seeking a balance between my identities of witness and teacher in order to bring my students closer to Jesus. I have been on too many retreats where “witness […]

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