The Real Life of Catechetical Leaders

When I was a parish catechetical leader, I used to joke with my fellow DREs that we should create the real curriculum needed to earn a degree in pastoral ministry—one that would include courses in how to make coffee and serve refreshments; how to rearrange, set up, and take down tables and chairs and other furniture; how to clean bathrooms and unplug toilets; how to fix jammed printers; how to organize fundraisers; and so on. While we […]

Family Catechesis, Adult Faith Formation, and Combatting the “Drop-Off” Mentality

Perhaps the biggest challenge that I hear catechetical leaders and catechists talk about is reaching the parents of children in religious education programs. Over the past half-century or so, the Church has done a very effective job of training parents to drop off their kids at religious education classes so that “we”—those involved in the parish catechetical program—can teach them the Catholic faith. Years ago, when families and communities reinforced Catholic values, teachings, and practices, […]

An Openness to the Word

The Church’s deepest nature is expressed in her three-fold responsibility: of proclaiming the word of God (kerygma-martyria), celebrating the sacraments (leitourgia), and exercising the ministry of charity (diakonia). These duties presuppose each other and are inseparable. (Deus Caritas Est, 25) I find this quote from Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI to be a powerful reminder of the intimate relationship between charity and the Word of God. Charity, he seems to remind us, is an expression of […]

Recruiting and Retaining Catechists Who Evangelize with GIFTS

Many catechetical leaders are familiar with the struggle of trying to find catechists at the last minute and begging parishioners for help. We have all heard the horror stories of people who tentatively volunteered and two weeks later found themselves standing in front of a room full of students, unsure of themselves and wondering how they ended up in this position. If our catechists are the backbone of our faith formation programs, then recruiting and […]

Ignatius Loyola’s Management Style Might Work for You

The “director” part of a DRE’s job description is a taxing challenge. “Director” means “manager,” and managing people and programs is never easy. It means achieving lofty goals with limited resources. It means dealing with people who often don’t behave the way you want them to behave. It means compromise, tough decisions, and juggling conflicting interests. Managing means meetings. Lots of meetings. To complicate matters, most DREs are teachers at heart who love students much more than budgets and […]

Interviewing Your Catechists

Recently, I received the following message from Martha: Hello, I am searching for a catechist interview. I am a new DRE and I am wondering if that is a wise idea. I will appreciate your feedback. The quick response is “Yes,” it is a good idea to interview your catechists, not just when you are recruiting them, but also at the beginning and end of each year. I recognize that this may be impossible for […]

Catechist Recruitment via Webinar

Like in many parishes, the faith formation department at my parish is challenged to find enough catechists each year. We’ve held meetings and created a webpage with videos, job description, and links to useful resources. We’ve explained our need for catechists (and the benefits of being a catechist) in a family e-newsletter, the parish bulletin, and on Facebook. We’ve posted colorful flyers and asked for volunteers via the parish Twitter account. Whether we write long […]

Four Tips to Recruit and Train New Catechists

Just when I think I have a fantastic team of catechists in place someone moves out of town, schedules change, or some other issues arise, and I find myself searching for new catechists, often at the last minute. Recruiting and training catechists is an annual endeavor for every catechetical program. Here are some simple strategies I have used to recruit and train catechists. 1. Find people in your parish with teaching experience. Teachers can make […]

Now Here: The Effective Catechetical Leader Series

Just about 20 years ago, I was minding my own business at the Office for Catechesis in the Archdiocese of Chicago when Loyola Press approached me and asked me to contribute to a new series they were working on in collaboration with NCCL called The Effective DRE Skills Development Series. Not only did the series go on to touch the lives of numerous catechetical leaders, the contact with Loyola Press eventually led to an invitation to […]

Supporting Parents When Children Are Preparing for the Sacraments

Perhaps the question I am asked most when I’m on the road giving presentations is, “What can we do to get parents more involved?” Even Pope Francis issued a call for parents to “come out of exile” to educate their children. From start to finish—from the first day that parents bring their children to religious education until the day they complete their formal formation—we should be speaking to parents, not about how they can pitch […]

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