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.

Being a Catechist in Two Parishes

I first volunteered to be a catechist 14 years ago at my home parish of Mary, Mother of the Redeemer when my son was preparing for his First Holy Communion; a few years later, a friend mentioned that our neighboring parish, St. Jude, was in need of additional catechists. I volunteered to be a substitute catechist, but soon became a regular catechist there, where I also prepared children to celebrate First Holy Communion, which has […]

Low-Tech Ideas for Engaging Students

You don’t need the latest technology to capture your students’ attention. They’re probably so plugged in during their day that low-tech (or no-tech) activities will seem novel. I have created a variety of resources with nothing more than markers and construction paper. Add variety to your lesson by incorporating activities that use low-cost teaching supplies. Make sure that whatever you create has a learning component to it. Flash Cards Buy pre-cut flashcards or simply cut […]

Four Ways to Meet Them Where They Are

By now we’re all settling into our routines for the year and getting to know our students. Inspired by St. Ignatius of Loyola, who advised “meeting them where they are” as the starting point for conversation, I’m wondering, do we meet them where they are? In order to take this Ignatian approach, we need to get to know them. Beyond playing a few get-to-know-you name games, which have their place, how do we go deeper […]

Teaching the Rosary

During October and May, I focus on teaching and praying the Rosary with my third graders. Since the Church honors Mary during these months, I want to make this time extra special for my students by passing on my love for Mary. I do this by making each student a twine rosary and giving them the materials for a keepsake Rosary prayer book. Each year our students are asked to bring a rosary from home […]

Family Catechesis, Adult Faith Formation, and Combatting the “Drop-Off” Mentality

Perhaps the biggest challenge that I hear catechetical leaders and catechists talk about is reaching the parents of children in religious education programs. Over the past half-century or so, the Church has done a very effective job of training parents to drop off their kids at religious education classes so that “we”—those involved in the parish catechetical program—can teach them the Catholic faith. Years ago, when families and communities reinforced Catholic values, teachings, and practices, […]

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 […]

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 […]

Eight Ways to Use Worksheets Effectively in Faith Formation

I have heard some catechists say they will never use blackline masters (BLMs) in religious education classrooms, and other catechists like to use every one their curriculum provides. These worksheets and other handouts are usually provided as part of the curriculum; a good catechist manual will advise when to integrate a BLM into the lesson. The key to using worksheets effectively in faith formation is understanding that they are resources for activities, not time-fillers, and […]

Beyond Memorizing Words to Meditating with Traditional Prayers

This past year I was a substitute catechist for my parish’s faith-formation program. When a young man in one of the classes learned that I had written a book of meditations based on the lives of the saints, he said, “Of course it’s a book of meditations. It’s Bob.” Even though we didn’t spend much time together, he knew that prayer and contemplation are the source of all that I am and all that I […]

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