The Little Red-Haired Boy

I was sitting at my desk after checking in on each of the faith formation classes. An aide from the first grade came into the office with a young boy. He had bright red hair, freckles, and a scowl that said he knew he was in trouble. The aide told me that she and the catechist had tried everything to get this boy to behave in class—time out, sitting with the aide, making sure they […]

Helping Young People See a Path by Setting Goals

I have long-argued that one of the problems with how we form people in faith is that we don’t present Catholicism as a “spiritual path.” Too often, we present it as a set of doctrines to adhere to or simply a way of belonging to a group of like-minded people. This explains why so many young people end up being attracted by New Age movements or Eastern religions that present themselves as a spiritual path […]

Accompanying Children Back to the Classroom

“In his proclamation of the Kingdom, Jesus seeks, encounters, and welcomes people in their concrete life situations.” Directory for Catechesis #198 While the COVID-19 pandemic is not over, many states have seen the easing of restrictions around larger gatherings, and there has been an increasing sense that life is returning to some sense of normalcy. This fall, parishes and schools will find themselves welcoming students back to class after a much-needed summer of rest and […]

Engaging Our Little Ones in Service: It Is the Way

One of the first lessons we teach our children when they begin interacting with other children is to share. Even if something belongs to them, we encourage them to share with others. To borrow a phrase from The Mandalorian: “This is the way.” Indeed, sharing with others is integral to “the way” of Christian life. We call this way of living stewardship—the sharing of our time, talent, and treasure with others. I would contend that, […]

Pop-Up Catechesis: Sharing Generative Stories

Did you ever notice how we take events or episodes from our lives and turn them into stories that we share with others? Why do we do this? Psychologists explain that we do it, not just to entertain people, but to make sense out of events that would otherwise seem puzzling or random. Such stories can influence our future behavior as well as the behavior of others. For example, if we share a story of […]

A Prayer for Catechists: Apprenticeship

This prayer originally appeared in my book, The Catechist’s Toolbox: How to Thrive as a Religious Education Teacher. Download a PDF version of the prayer here. See the related article: What Exactly Is Apprenticeship in Faith Formation?

Make This Word Part of Your Catechetical Vocabulary: Mystagogy

When I worked for my Uncle Joe at his pharmacy back in the day, he once had me use his car to make some deliveries. With the sun shining in my eyes, I pulled down the visor, which resulted in a number of small slips of paper falling into my lap. I glanced at the slips of paper and saw a list of words with definitions. When I asked my uncle about those slips, he […]

Seven Activity Types That Require No Materials for Participants

For those returning to classroom settings this fall, sharing supplies or handing out materials may not be options due to safety regulations. To help catechists facing this challenge, here are some ideas for activities that don’t require any special materials for participants. Prayer—Every session, no matter the format, should include prayer time. Guided reflections, lectio divina, traditional prayers, and intercessory prayer are just a few options catechists can lead for fruitful time with the Lord. […]

10 Tips for Teaching Religion Lessons to Your Children at Home

In the midst of this COVID-19 threat, many parents find themselves in the position of doing a certain amount of homeschooling with their children, including teaching religion lessons that would normally be taught in Catholic schools or parish religious education programs. Teaching religion lessons is different from teaching other subject areas, because in faith formation, we do not teach a subject, we facilitate an encounter with Jesus Christ! With that in mind, here are 10 […]

Traditional Teaching Habits to Avoid

John Barone, co-author of The Adaptive Teacher: Faith-Based Strategies to Reach and Teach Learners with Disabilities, suggests Five Traditional Teaching Habits to Avoid in an article over at LoyolaPress.com. If you find yourself shushing learners, talking too much, or giving complex instructions, try Barone’s “Try this instead” tips in the article to be a more effective catechist. Read the article here. Also check out Barone’s 9 Strategies for How to Get and Keep Attention, a […]

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