Whether you work with little children, teenagers, or adults, you are not alone in catechetical ministry. These posts highlight stories from catechists and faith formation leaders in the field, sharing the ups and downs of their work.

Sometimes the Young People Surprise Me

Sometimes the young people surprise me. Such was the case at the beginning of Lent, when I led a session on the season that focused on Christ’s temptation in the desert. I asked the young people what they already knew about Lent. An informal assessment of their previous knowledge, the question gave the students an opportunity to tell me things such as the season was 40 days and that they got ashes on Ash Wednesday. […]

Teaching Children about Angels

Teaching about angels is something that I weave throughout the catechetical year. There are so many ways that angels pop up in different contexts. My overall learning goals in teaching about angels are for the children to know: (1) Angels are unique and special beings created by God; (2) angels serve as God’s messengers and servants; and (3) everyone has a guardian angel. I want my students to recognize angels as special beings created by […]

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 […]

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 […]

Incorporating Movement into Faith Formation Sessions

One of the young people in my group asked if we’d be moving around at all during the session. It hit me as a necessary reminder that I need to be intentional about incorporating movement into my sessions. While not every session has elements of movement that bodily-kinesthetic learners might appreciate, I try to include varied activities such as: Learning Stations—I’ve been incorporating sacraments learning stations into my classes for several years now, and last […]

Patience with Quiet Students

Being a catechist requires patience. Some years it’s patience with behavior issues, and other years it’s patience with a class that’s too quiet. Let me explain. When discipline issues arise, there are a number of strategies for managing classroom behavior. But when young people are well-behaved yet non-participatory, we need different strategies, which we often don’t hear much about. The overreaching strategy to working with young people who don’t want to join in discussions or […]

Praying with Little Ones

Last fall, Joe Paprocki provided 20 tips for catechists. The ninth tip stuck with me: as catechists, we are not teaching a subject, but we are facilitating an encounter with Jesus. All of us encounter Jesus in different ways on any given day, and our students are no different. Offering a variety of prayer experiences for children can open up new ways for Christ to work in their lives. When I’m praying with my first-grade […]

How a Church on the Move Forms People in Faith: Theology by the Glass

Recently, I had the pleasure of speaking at the Lay Ministry Assembly in the Diocese of Saginaw, MI, on the topic of A Church on the Move, drawing from my book of the same name in which I discuss how a Church “on the move” thinks, functions, worships, forms people in faith, and engages the world. In the section of the book on how a Church on the move forms people in faith, I wrote: […]

Letting Things Go in a Different Direction

Lesson planning is critical to the success of any class. With a solid plan, I walk into class more confident, but I build in flexibility in case an activity doesn’t work or if we run short (or long) on time. So, last year, when my Nativity lesson went off track, this flexibility allowed me to let go of my plan and respond to the needs of my students. The result was a powerful message about […]

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