Child A or Child B?

This is a true scenario about people I know personally. Child A: Her parents were not practicing Catholics (both were baptized Catholic but did not attend Church). Her father was an alcoholic and was abusive toward her mother. She attended public school (both grammar school and high school) and was not enrolled in any form of religious education throughout her childhood. There was no prayer at home and no effort to teach any form of […]

The Communion of Saints

Today is my (deceased) Dad’s 86th birthday. I’m going to Mass with my Mom and then out to eat to celebrate Dad’s life. I think of him often and have many dreams about him (he passed away nearly 10 years ago). I find great comfort in the Catholic understanding of the Communion of Saints and I feel my Dad’s presence in my life in an ongoing way. I think that the Communion of Saints is […]

Seating Arrangement

For every class this year, my 8th graders have been sitting in desks (with chairs) that are arranged in rows. Last Monday, I raced to get there a minute or 2 earlier (we have only 15 minutes between sessions to get our class ready) and I carefully moved the rows aside to create a space in the middle of the room. I used one desk to create a prayer center and arranged 13 chairs in a […]

A Modest Proposal

I wonder how it is that we settled on the model of one catechist per 12-15 students for religious education.  It occurs to me that if we really wanted to invite young people into an apprenticeship in the Catholic way of life, that we would surround them with more adults. I see no reason why a “class” of 12-15 young people couldn’t be accompanied by 4 or 5 adults.  I know that DREs will say that it’s […]

Seven Habits of Highly Effective Catechists

I’m sure you’re familiar with Stephen Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People (if not, I highly recommend it!). Well, tonight I’m speaking to catechists at a neighboring parish and I’ve decided to focus on seven habits of highly effective catechists. I firmly believe that the most effective catechists excel in the following areas: Ongoing formation – they never stop learning about and growing in their faith. Planning and Preparation – they prepare their […]

A Catechist's S.O.S.

Here is an e-mail I received from a catechist who is seeking support in the midst of a difficult situation. I’ve responded to her personally with my suggestions. With her permission, I’m posting it here with the hope that catechists more familiar than I am with teaching pre-school, K, and primary ages might respond. I’ve also changed her name…we’ll call her Natalie. To respond to Natalie, just click on “Add a Comment” at the end […]

God, Sports, and Religious Education

I’m from Chicago, a BIG sports town (bigger than ever this week with Da Bears in Da Superbowl!). Often, sports can be a thorn in the side for catechists: students miss religious ed. classes because of games, tournaments, and practices and, worse yet, they and their families often miss Mass on Sunday because of games and tournaments. These are serious issues that need to be addressed. On the other hand, I’m a huge sports fan […]

A Rewarding Experience

In her comment on my January 29 post, Ali says: “Prayers are much more to be memorized, they should also be written on our hearts. It sounds like a wonderful way for you to gauge both. By having an exchange like you described, I can only imagine it will be as rewarding for you as will be helpful for the children.” You’re right, Ali, it was (is) very rewarding. Yesterday I had the opportunity to […]

Countdown to Confirmation

This Monday evening, we begin the home stretch to Confirmation…about 6 weeks away. This immediate preparation can be a great opportunity to impress upon the young people an appreciation and awareness of the great grace of the Holy Spirit in their lives. Uppermost in my mind is helping them to see that Confirmation is not the end of their religious formation. Too often, it is seen as “graduation” from the Church. I hope to emphasize […]

Silence is Golden

I mentioned the other day that for the beginning of Advent, I invited the kids to pray in silence at the start of class. A friend of mine who used to be a 6th grade catechist remarked, “Oh, that’s the way I prayed with them almost all of the time.” I thought that was very refreshing. We sometimes think of prayer as a space that we have to fill up with words, when what we […]

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