Faith Formation Isn’t Self-Improvement

You may hear parents or others in your faith community talk about catechesis like it’s a self-improvement course. While following Jesus and growing closer to God will hopefully improve our lives, the goal is not self-improvement. The entire message of Salvation through Jesus Christ is that we are incapable of saving ourselves and are in need of a divine intervention, which means a renouncing of the self. Our destiny is not to become a better […]

Possibly the Most Important Paragraph in a Church Document: RCIA #75

Several years ago, a campaign began to invite former Catholics to return to the Church: Catholics Come Home. But did you ever ask, “What are folks coming home to? And why? What am I doing to help welcome them to my parish faith community?” People stop coming to church for a variety of reasons. The question is, are we inviting them back to the very same experience that caused them to leave in the first place? […]

Change of Perspective in Evaluating Faith Formation Programs

For many faith formation leaders, this time of year is filled with the critical evaluation of our programs, our curriculum, and our catechetical efforts over the past 9–12 months. We invite feedback from catechists, parents, and sometimes the students as well. We assess our successes and our challenges, seeking to adjust and improve what we do as we plan for next year. As a busy DRE, I know I often used the same evaluation tools […]

Transitions and Connecting to the Community

Some years ago I ended a period of ministry at a parish and school that had become my spiritual home. During the time I served there, I had developed many relationships with catechists, parents, students, and staff, and I had participated in many affirming and community-building endeavors over the years. I had felt called to serve this particular place, but it was time to serve in new ways. I was not quite sure what the Lord […]

The Parent Panel for Parent Meetings

A few years ago, I posted about an approach I’ve been taking for parent sacramental prep meetings, particularly First Eucharist. Basically, I’ve been asking the catechetical leader to recruit four or five parents from the previous year’s First Eucharist class to form a panel that I can interview about their experience of bringing their children to the sacraments. I have had nothing but great success with this format as these parents eagerly give witness to […]

Finding God Kindergarten Now Available

The wait is over! Finding God Kindergarten has arrived! For over a decade now, the Finding God phenomenon has been touching the lives of young people in grades one through eight in parish religious education programs and Catholic schools. Now, Finding God Kindergarten completes the picture! Jesus famously told his disciples not to hinder future disciples—the “little children”—from coming to him. Loyola Press has always taken this charge seriously. It was with little children in mind […]

Lent as a Catechetical Leader

Our annual Lenten journey has begun. I don’t know about you, but it seems like I always start this penitential season really well, but then quickly fall into the same old busy-ness of parish life. In fact, for most catechetical leaders, Lent is our busiest time of the year. How do we counter that? First and foremost, we have to make a commitment to prayerfully focus on what the season means. It’s a time to […]

How to Inject Energy into Your Adult Faith Formation

Are you looking to inject new life and energy into your parish’s adult faith formation program? Here’s a suggestion that will guarantee results, especially if your parish and the community are multicultural: tap into the energy of Latinos, Asians, and African Americans. In a 2015 CARA survey, people were asked, “How interested would you be in the following?” Catholic volunteer/aid organizations Language classes for parishioners Whole family catechesis classes Small faith communities Catholic fraternal societies Community […]

Encouraging Family Mass Attendance One Family at a Time

Those of us who serve in the ministry of catechesis know the disconnect that exists between religious education and families who do not attend Sunday Mass. How do we get parents who drop off their kids at faith formation classes but do not attend Mass into church on Sunday? We can try gimmicks, requirements, scolding, and guilt, but the only thing that will get families into the pews is conversion. I’d like to share one […]

Melting Those “Stone Faces” at Parent Meetings

When I am asked to present at a parent meeting (First Reconciliation or First Eucharist), I am often met by a lot of what I call “stone faces”—a look on the parents’ faces that says they would rather be anywhere else but here! Don’t get me wrong: the folks are cordial, just not very emotive, and I remind myself that most are coming straight from work or a long day at home. A big part […]

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