Three Ways to Retain Catechists through Affirmation

Cool-headed, analytical, driven—these words were often used to describe Scott, a veteran soldier in the United States Army. Yet, there he was, a shy grin on his face as he approached his pastor, who had called him forward to be recognized as a new catechist. He gratefully accepted his welcome gifts: the Holy Bible with his name engraved on the cover, a rosary carved from a native hard wood, and an official catechist name badge. […]

Affirming Catechists Is Not Just a “Warm Fuzzy”

I keep a cartoon on my desk in my office that shows a mechanic leaning over a car engine while his boss stands looking over his shoulder, asking, “Did I tell you that you’re doing a good job?” The mechanic replies, “No,” to which the boss responds, “I didn’t think so.” Affirmation is a tricky thing. With over 35 years of experience in ministry, I’ve learned not to rely on affirmation and to find it […]

Collaborating with Catechists

The Vietnamese Holy Martyrs Catholic Community in the Diocese of Honolulu have an annual youth camp. The core team had finalized their plans for 2018. The campsite was booked; the program content was finalized; the activities and their optimum placement were all mapped out: prayer service in the chapel, sessions in the common room, outdoor grilling for lunch, a Scripture-themed scavenger hunt on the playing field, skits and s’mores around the outdoor fire pit. Now […]

Summer Planning for the DRE

As the weather gets warmer, the students are not the only ones who are restless! I love my ministry with passion, but the summer provides a wonderful opportunity to renew my programs as well as myself. During the year, in the midst of the hustle and bustle, I often cannot find time to discern what God is calling me to create in my ministry. I look forward to the summer for time and space to […]

Supporting Your Catechists

I was about to meet with a parent who had a reputation for being overly assertive. I was a little nervous, but as a catechetical leader, it was my duty to support my ministry team. This parent had upset a second-grade catechist; she had tried to reason with him to no avail. She pleaded with me to intercede. He sat across the table from me, whipped out his phone and rather ceremoniously set the timer. […]

Ending the Program Year

By now, many of us have already finished our regular classes for the year. It used to be that the summer months gave us some peace and quiet before it started all over again. Lately it seems like we never slow down, and we have to force ourselves to take a breath (and time off). When our regular classes are done, we start rolling out summer adult faith formation series or Vacation Bible School, and […]

From the High of Pentecost to the Reality

In the First Letter of Peter to the Christian communities of Asia Minor, we learn that the communities appear to be struggling, and the writer makes frequent exhortations to remain faithful in belief and conduct to the teachings handed down to them. He reminds them of their hope in the saving grace of Baptism, salvation through faith in the Passion and Death of Jesus, and the promise of enduring love and eternal life. Christians in […]

A Comprehensive Approach to Catechesis

I have previously discussed the “grave responsibility” a pastor has in ensuring that the catechetical ministry of the parish is well-resourced and comprehensive in its approach. This responsibility requires a consideration of those who are served by our catechetical efforts. We must also remember that our actions teach as much, if not more, about what we believe as our words do. Make no mistake about it—everything we do and don’t do in our parish says […]

The Commitment to Catechesis

The overarching goal of catechesis is to “encourage a living, explicit and fruitful faith.” (General Directory of Catechesis #66) We strive to achieve this goal through instruction and experience. In my experience, most of our efforts in parish catechetical work tend to focus on doctrinal instruction. I can still hear my grandmother’s voice in my head, saying, “if only they knew their commandments.” She was convinced that “doctrinal instruction” alone could resolve all our difficulties […]

Moving to a Family Catechesis Model

We human beings tend to be resistant to change. Our brains are wired in such a way as to take the path of least resistance, which means that the brain likes to develop habits and routines and stick with them. The longer we’ve been practicing a certain habit or behavior, the more difficult it is for the brain to change. When it comes to children’s faith formation, we have developed some practices and habits over many […]

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