Catechists and Catechetical Leaders: How Often Do You Talk to One Another?

During my years at Loyola Press, I have had the joy of working with and reporting to a number of directors who can vouch for the fact that one of the first things I ask from them is a regular meeting (weekly or bi-weekly) to ensure that we have open and ongoing communication. Without such communication, any relationship suffers. So when it comes to catechists and catechetical leaders, I must ask the question: how often […]

The Pros and Cons of Do-it-Yourself Catechesis

I recently received an e-mail from a veteran diocesan catechetical director who is concerned that, at a growing number of parishes in her diocese, the catechetical leader has chosen to write his or her own materials for faith formation rather than using materials produced by a Catholic publisher. Here are some of the thoughts this diocesan director shared: As I visit parishes, I see more and more people “writing their own stuff.” What they really want […]

Do the Elderly Need Catechesis? Yes!

Back when the General Directory for Catechesis came out (1997), many aspects of it captured our imaginations and piqued our curiosity: the primacy of adult faith formation, the concept of apprenticeship, the catechumenate as the model for all catechesis, the importance of sacred art, and so on. One concept that caught my attention but I believe has been vastly overlooked is the attention given to catechesis for the elderly, or the “aged” as the GDC prefers. […]

Cherishing the Wisdom of Our Elders

One of the things that I love about the Jesuits is that they never “retire.” When a Jesuit becomes elderly or infirm, he is given a new assignment by his Provincial, namely, to pray for the success of the mission and ministries of the Society of Jesus at one of the Jesuit assisted-living facilities. The message is clear: every member of the Jesuits, no matter what age, is still valued and considered an integral member of […]

Baptismal Crosses and Baptism Reunions

In his book, Excellence in Ministry: Best Practices for Successful Catechetical Leadership (part of the Effective Catechetical Leader series from Loyola Press and NCCL), my friend Tom Quinlan wisely suggests the following: My strong exhortation for parishes today is to front-load their efforts at impacting family systems. There is much more proverbial bang for the buck in doing front-loaded, early family evangelization ministry than anything later down the road! From my experience, baptismal ministry gets next-to-nothing […]

Retain Catechists Through Public Recognition

Bishop Larry Silva stood at the doorway to my office holding a tray stacked high with freshly baked brownies. “Jayne, I’m here to say hello and to thank you for your hard work! Care for a treat?” He served up a brownie, and we chatted amicably for a few moments. I watched him make his way down the hall, stopping at each office to offer a sweet treat, recognizing the efforts of his employees and […]

Long-Range Planning: Looking at Things from 30,000 Feet

In my work, I do a lot of traveling—most of it in the air—and as anyone who flies knows, viewing the world from 30,000 feet provides one with a different perspective! One of the responsibilities of catechetical leaders is to call people to step “back from the specific issues that need attention (‘Should we add an additional hall monitor?’ or ‘Do we want to explore a different text series for junior high next year?’), and […]

Retreat Ministry: Encounters with Christ

Discipleship is a way of life and is not bound by the constraints of programs or processes. It progresses at a pace willed by the Holy Spirit. Time and trust are the currencies of discipleship, but when the time we spend with our students is limited to one hour a week between September and May, our ability to be present in their lives is challenged. Finding ways to connect outside the classroom with students and […]

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 […]

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