Catechists Hungry for Knowledge of Scripture: A Look Back at Our Poll

Recently, we conducted one of our informal polls to get a peek into the minds and hearts of catechists. In this particular poll, we asked: Which area of Catholic teaching do you most need to grow in understanding? With 51% of the vote (as of 9/6/19), Scripture, by far, is the area in which catechists most feel a need to grow in their understanding. This is not surprising. While we Catholics have made great advances […]

Sacraments: Grace for Christian Witness

Pope Francis has repeatedly urged the faithful not to remain closed-in on ourselves, focused only on the affairs of the Church, but rather to go out and give witness to Christ. This is the missionary spirit in which catechists share the Good News—not only in the classroom, but in our daily interactions with the greater community. This bold commission may seem daunting at times, but we receive grace, “the free and undeserved help . . […]

“What’s Your Story?” Inviting Children into a Healthy Narrative

Among the many popular digital entertainment apps available today are those known as “interactive story” apps in which players “enter into” a storyline that is not predetermined and make choices that determine the story’s outcome. One such game, What’s Your Story?, invites players to choose from favorite movies and TV shows and to become a character in the story, making the story their own. The truth is, we all have a story or a narrative […]

Are You Biblically Animated?

At a meeting I recently attended at my alma mater, the Institute of Pastoral Studies (Loyola University), I heard a phrase I’d not heard before: biblical animation. It’s not a new phrase, but it was new to me! First, biblical animation does not refer to cartoon drawings of Bible scenes. Rather, biblical animation refers to activity that is “powered by” (animated by) an encounter with Christ in Scripture. Second, it would seem that the concept of […]

Silent Prayer Circle

I like to vary how my class prays partly to give everyone more tools in their prayer toolbox, but also because not everyone learns or prays in the same way on a given day. When I teach about the Holy Family, I teach my first-graders simple signs in sign language (ASL), which we practice together. Thanks to YouTube, you can easily teach yourself signs and phrases in ASL. I have learned how to sign “thank […]

Saints Among Us Retreat

One of my favorite activities with my third graders is a simple retreat designed to help them recognize and appreciate the saints, not only those in heaven, but those in our homes and those we are called to be. It is great for family catechesis as well. We include children from both the school and the parish religious education program and require at least one parent to attend. The retreat usually takes place on the Saturday […]

Asian and Pacific-Island Cultural Encounter and Dialogue

This is the fourth and final article in a series highlighting key statements from Encountering Christ in Harmony, A Pastoral Response to Our Asian and Pacific Island Brothers and Sisters (ECH:API), approved by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in 2018. The Asian and Pacific Island population in the United States is the fastest-growing minority population, according to research referenced in Encountering Christ in Harmony. Yet this population “tends to go unrecognized in the […]

Creating the “Aroma of the Gospel” Through Stories

In order to introduce people to Jesus Christ, it is incumbent on us catechists to tell the stories of Jesus’ amazing deeds, beginning with the stories we have in Scripture in which he opens the eyes of the blind, heals the sick, changes water into wine, calms the storm, and raises people from the dead. Too often, we rush to teach doctrinal concepts while those we’re teaching don’t even know the story of Jesus Christ! As catechists, […]

Living the Sacraments Prayer Cards

Each chapter of my newest book, Living the Sacraments: Finding God at the Intersection of Heaven and Earth, includes a prayer, and I’m happy to share today a set of prayer cards with these prayers for each of the seven sacraments. These colorful cards can be shared with a reading group that’s discussing Living the Sacraments or Vivir los sacramentos, given to parents at a sacramental preparation meeting, or included in a catechist’s folder for […]

Introducing Children to the Blessed Mother

Throughout the faith formation year, I devote part of my lessons to introducing the children to the Blessed Mother. Whenever I teach about Mary, my goal is for the children to know that: Mary is our mother; Mary is our best model of faith; and Mary said yes to God, and we can say yes to God too. My lessons on Mary are based on the liturgical year. I begin in October, which is dedicated […]

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