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.

Teaching with a Co-Catechist

As much as I love teaching my religious education class, I enjoy sharing the responsibility with a co-catechist. Knowing that there are some Sundays when someone else is leading the class gives me some breathing room during the week. I’ve taught with veteran catechists and with first-timers. I’ve taught with parents of students in the class and with high-school and college students. Everyone has been a little different, but they all have provided opportunities for […]

Six Ways to Keep the Message of Lent a Focal Point All Season

How can we catechists keep the message of Lent a focal point in our classes for six weeks? Beyond keeping a purple cloth on the prayer table, here are a few ideas for keeping Lenten themes the focus of every session for the entire season. Challenge young people to silence. I started this last year with my seventh graders. At first they had a hard time settling themselves for a few moments of complete silence […]

Teaching the Corporal Works of Mercy

Even though I have a lot of topics to cover in preparing second graders to celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation and First Holy Communion, I always make it a point to introduce the corporal works of mercy to my students. I start by reading Matthew 25:31–46, and together we list the actions listed in these Gospel verses. I then ask the children to answer the question, “What are ways you share God’s peace?” I point […]

Making Space for Questions

A recent class discussion showed the importance of building trust over time, which allows young people to feel free to ask hard questions. We were talking about the miracles of Jesus (Finding God, Grade 7, Chapter 12) and how they showed his love and respect for all people. That led to a discussion on how we are also called to respect the dignity of all life according to Christ’s example and Catholic social teaching. The […]

Engaging Students with a Church Tour

One of my favorite days of the year is when I lead second-graders on a church tour as part of their preparation for First Eucharist. I like to show them and their parents things in the church they might never have noticed or things they may see all the time but not fully understand what they are or why they are there. Before one such tour last spring, I launched into my usual welcome speech. […]

Developing Students’ Prayerful Habits During Lent

Over my years as a catechist, I have become firmly convinced that our mission is not as much to teach children about Jesus but introduce them to Jesus. Having a personal relationship with Jesus is very different than only learning information about him. The best way for children, or any of us, to come to know Jesus is through prayer. I introduce and model many experiences of prayer throughout the year; I am especially conscious […]

Third Graders and the Ten Commandments

As we move through the school year, my students become more comfortable sharing and asking questions during religion class. I welcome this opportunity to answer questions, and I’m grateful that they can do this in a safe environment that is free of judgment. I want them always to feel that God loves them. When I can’t answer a question, I admit that and promise to get back to them with an answer. If the question […]

Improvising in a Different Space

After a few weeks in a different classroom space, I was happy to return to my regular classroom. We had spent several weeks in the parish center across the street from the school while some maintenance issues—most notably, a broken furnace—were addressed. During this time, I had to improvise on a few things. I didn’t have access to Bibles for each young person. I carried over a couple of Bibles, one to display in our […]

An Example of Excellence in Special Needs Faith Formation

Here’s a good news story! While many parishes are making strides in offering quality faith formation for young people with special needs, one parish stands out as an example of excellence. St. Rose of Lima Parish in Gaithersburg, Maryland, was recently honored as the recipient of the Opening Doors Award, presented by the National Catholic Partnership on Disability (NCPD) in partnership with Loyola Press. With the award comes a check for $1000 and a plaque. St. Rose of […]

Shepherd’s Flock: One Parish’s Experience with Adaptive Catechesis

Certainly, everyone in catechetical ministry understands that all students—including those with special needs—are called to witness the Gospel. Every parish has children whose needs may not be adequately met in the typical classroom approach to faith formation, and my parish is no different. For more than a decade, our Shepherd’s Flock program has been ministering to students with learning challenges. Some are on the autism spectrum; others have Down syndrome or other genetic disorders. The […]

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