A Definition of Insanity

Albert Einstein once offered the following as a definition for insanity: “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Too often, in catechesis, we fall into this trap. I was recently speaking with a junior high catechist who was lamenting the fact that last year, her kids were so quiet (not shy but recalcitrant) that it was painful to teach them. They refused to speak, save for one student. I was talking to […]

Batman, The Dark Knight, and Moral Issues

You may have heard me say this before but I risk repeating myself: St. Ignatius emphasized that, when teaching, we should “enter through their door but be sure to leave through your door.” This means that we need to engage people where they are at and then invite them to move toward the Gospel of Jesus. Right now, Batman: The Dark Knight can most definitely be considered “their door” – it is where we can […]

What 4th Graders Say About Prayer

I recently received a report from a catechist (Kim) who has been doing reflective prayer (meditation) with 4th graders. What follows is a summary of their responses to 3 simple evaluation prompts: the thing I like most about our prayer times together is… / What I have learned about myself and my relationship with Jesus during our prayer times is… / Additional comments… Here’s what 4th graders are saying about prayer: The thing I like […]

Teach Them to Pray

At the Catechetical Ministries Awards Banquet last evening (sponsored by the Archdiocese of Chicago, Office for Catechesis and Youth Ministry), Cardinal George gave the crowd some inside scoop on the Pope’s visit to the U.S. He told us that before the Pope departed, the bishops asked him some questions, one of which was, what his advice was about teaching young people in a culture of secularization. The Pope responded, “Teach them to pray!” I thought […]

Comments from the Kids

Last night was our last class for the year and it was a very nice send-off. The closing Mass was very good and the young people seemed genuinely touched by the little token that I offered them. A number of the 8th grade students also went out for pizza afterwards accompanied by 3 of us catechists. As it turns out, last week, when I missed class because of my daughter’s illness, my aide, Kris, had […]

Closing Mass on Monday

This Monday is the last session for religious education for the year and we will mark it with a celebration of the Eucharist. It’s hard to believe that the year is already coming to an end. In retrospect, it seems like we had so little time together and in many respects that is true. However, I hope and pray that I have been able to make an impact on the young people that I was […]

RCIA for Children

Here’s an exchange I recently had with a catechist working in RCIA for children: Dear Joe,  I am a catechist teaching RCIA for children.  This is my first time teaching RCIA.  If you could recommend some approaches to answering questions to children grades 3rd through 5th RCIA, I would really appreciate your help.  Here are some of their questions:  Why do we decorate the church with a barren looking tree during Lent?  Who made God and […]

Did Jesus Have to Die?

On Monday evening, one of the young people asked, “Would it have been better if Jesus didn’t die? Like, if I went into a time machine, went back in time and prevented him from being killed, would that have been better?” What a wonderful question! I responded by explaining that Jesus came to save us, not to be saved and that, by dying, he showed us the greatest love that anyone can have – selfless […]

Internet and Kids

Here are some interesting facts about how the Internet has influenced kids’ traditional viewing habits: 64% of kids report going online while watching TV, with 49% of Teens doing the same from three times a week to several times a day. 73% of kids are actively multitasking, which is up by +33% since 2002. 50% of 9 to 17-year-olds visit websites they see on TV even as they continue to watch 45% of teens have […]

It’s Boring!

How often do we hear kids say, either about Mass or about religious education class, “It’s boring”? Too often, I’m sure. Kids (and most of us in general) are engaged when there is drama involved.  That’s why sports is so big…we don’t know how the game is going to turn out and so we are engaged. Movies and video games are big because we don’t know how they will end. One of the challenges we […]

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