10 Things I’ve Learned in 10 Years of Ministry

This summer, I concluded my tenth year working as a Director of Faith Formation. As I reflect on my gratitude for all of the experiences of these past ten years in ministry, I have also been thinking of the lessons I’ve learned along the way. These are lessons I am continually learning, and sometimes I fail at them, but God never gives up on me! Pray or none of it matters. What good is my […]

Responding Compassionately to Families Whose Children Are “Out of Sequence” for Receiving the Sacraments

“Good morning! My son is in the fifth grade and hasn’t received his First Holy Communion yet. How can we get started?” “Hi there! My daughter is a senior in high school and would like to be confirmed before she leaves for college. What does she have to do?” For Roman Catholics, there is a traditional sequence to receiving the Sacraments of Initiation and First Penance and Reconciliation: Baptism in infancy, Reconciliation and Eucharist at […]

Do We Need a Different Kind of Catechist for Family Faith Formation?

As the catechetical landscape continues to shift and more faith communities are exploring and implementing various catechetical models—especially family catechesis models—it begs the question: Do we need to find a different kind of catechist for family faith formation? The answer is “Yes” and “No.” Let’s start with the “No.” Obviously, we still need people who are well-formed in their Catholic faith, who have a passion and desire for sharing God’s Word, and who possess good […]

Bilingual Faith Formation with Enhanced Multimedia: Encontrando a Dios

I’ve shared previously about the enhanced media that is integral to the newest edition of Finding God Grades 1–6—the outstanding Loyola Press faith formation curriculum that is imbued with Ignatian spirituality. I’ve also shared about the same in Finding God Grades 7–8. Now, I am excited to announce that enhanced multimedia is available for families with two languages: English and Spanish! The newest edition of Encontrando a Dios/Finding God Grades 1–6 invites everyone to recognize God’s presence through the […]

From Marriage Prep to Accompanying Young Families

One of my favorite suggestions from the new Directory for Catechesis is that we drop the phrase “marriage prep.” In essence, this phrase has come to refer to a few “hoops” that an engaged couple has to go through in order to “qualify” for the Sacrament of Matrimony. The new Directory is urging us to move away from a programmatic approach to an approach that is characterized by true accompaniment. Too often, after a perfunctory […]

Involving Our Elders in Faith Formation

In many cultures, the elders of the community are highly respected and are seen as wisdom figures for young people. This is not always true in Western culture, where too often our elders are seen as a burden. Our Holy Father, Pope Francis, has been encouraging us to re-think our attitudes toward our elders so that we hold them in higher esteem and continue to use their gifts in a variety of ways, including in […]

Celebrating the First World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly

I wish I could remember who told me this, years ago, but I have never forgotten it: “The closest we will ever come in this life to seeing the face of God is seeing the face of our grandparents.” And yes, I came across this statement long before I myself became a grandparent! Grandparents can play a significant role in the lives of children. In recognition of this very important place that grandparents have in […]

Five Ideas for Accompanying Catechists Back to the Classroom

“But, really, is there such a thing as a catechist who is not creative? Creativity is what sustains us as catechists.” (Pope Francis at the International Congress on Catechesis, September 27, 2013) Catechists and catechetical leaders have certainly proved themselves to be flexible and creative during this past year and a half of upheaval. Many catechists and catechetical leaders exercised great creativity and “stick-with-it-ness” in reaching out to their students and families with great enthusiasm and […]

Accompaniment Is Ongoing

Imagine attending a concert featuring a solo vocalist accompanied by a keyboard player and, after the first song, the accompanist gets up and exits the stage and does not reappear for the remainder of the concert. So much for accompaniment! Too often, in our faith formation efforts, our accompaniment is short-lived. A family shows up at the parish to have their baby baptized, and we accompany them at the baptismal prep meeting and the Baptism. And […]

Junior High and Something Different in Faith Formation

For as long as I’ve been in catechetical ministry (over 40 years!), I’ve heard catechetical ministers pleading for something different when it comes to doing faith formation with junior high kids—and rightly so! Young people in junior high (seventh and eighth grades) are at a critical stage in their faith development, as their “image of God received in childhood is refashioned.” (Directory for Catechesis, 247) The worst thing we can do is to continue to treat […]

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