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 […]

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 […]

Four Things to Remember When Choosing a Curriculum

Every couple of years in ministry I’ve had to discern if it is time to change our faith-formation curriculum. As a catechetical leader, I never want to change a program just for the sake of changing. Over the years, I have kept a few things in mind that help me decide if I’m choosing the right curriculum for the right reasons. 1. Remember the community. Deciding which curriculum program to use has great implications. Listen […]

Increasing Mass Attendance, Part Two

One of the biggest frustrations that catechists and Catholic school teachers have is the lack of Mass attendance of those they teach (and their families). Recently, I shared a story of a parish that made some significant, albeit short-lived, gains in Mass attendance—64% to be precise. That post has generated a lot of attention. First, thanks to the many folks who engaged in conversation at the end of that post. (Please take the time to […]

The Centrality of Evangelizing Households

Right before the holidays, I had the pleasure of enjoying a long, lazy lunch with my friend Tom Quinlan, Director of the Religious Education Office for the Diocese of Joliet and author of Excellence in Ministry: Best Practices for Successful Catechetical Leadership, part of the Effective Catechetical Leader series from Loyola Press and NCCL. Over a period of almost three hours, Tom and I chatted about a myriad of issues related to our shared passion—the catechetical […]

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