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 […]

Four Things to Remember When Choosing a Curriculum

Every couple of years in ministry I’ve had to discern if it is time to change our faith-formation curriculum. As a catechetical leader, I never want to change a program just for the sake of changing. Over the years, I have kept a few things in mind that help me decide if I’m choosing the right curriculum for the right reasons. 1. Remember the community. Deciding which curriculum program to use has great implications. Listen […]

“If These Walls Could Talk…” Catholic Walls Do Talk!

This is a picture I took several years ago of my wife, Joanne, pausing to sit and reflect at the Art Institute of Chicago. This is generally what we do when we encounter art: we pause and let it “speak” to us. Art that relies on images, shapes, and objects speaks to us without using words to tell a story. I remember as a young child attending the Latin Mass and not understanding most of it. […]

Catechists Need Tools, Not Replacements

I continue to see catechetical materials being published that promise to “do everything for you” when it comes to forming people in faith. The implied message is that “anyone can do it”—all you have to do is press “Play” on the DVD player, and a charismatic person on a video will ignite the fire of the Holy Spirit in the hearts of those observing. The catechist is all but replaced, reduced to a functionary who […]

Sacrament Video Wins Award!

In ministry, as in many walks of life, affirmation does not always come easily. That’s why when it does come along, it is really something to celebrate! With that in mind, I am happy to share some good news with you: a video that I wrote and hosted for the God’s Gift: Eucharist program for Loyola Press recently won an award! The Academy of Interactive & Visual Arts announced that the “Sacrament of the Eucharist” […]

Tools to Assist Parents in Family Catechesis: Interactive Session Reviews

As we talk more and more about family catechesis, it is important to assure parents that we are equipping them with tools they can use to help them form their children in faith. Most parents are not professional teachers and can be intimidated by the prospect of teaching their children the faith. To help them teach effectively, we need to provide them with user-friendly tools that can help them engage their children in their faith-formation […]

Family Catechesis: Telling Parents “You Can Do This!”

Last week, I wrote about the importance of the adult faith formation “piece” of family catechesis. This week, I’d like to take some time to talk about assisting parents in actually doing the work of catechizing their children. Most parents understandably react to being told that they are their child’s primary catechist by reminding us that they are not teachers. My friend David Heimann, Director of Religious Education at St. Andrew Parish in Chicago, explains […]

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, […]

A Catechist Aide Just For You!

I know most catechists appreciate having an aide to assist them, especially when that aide can act as a “co-catechist” of sorts, jumping in from time to time to offer support, insight, and perspective on the lesson being taught. This is especially helpful for catechists who teach younger children whose attention spans can be so short! With that in mind, Loyola Press is happy to provide those of you teaching First Eucharist and First Reconciliation […]

Faithfully Adapting Scripture Stories for Children

It is not unusual for catechists and publishers of textbooks to adapt Scripture stories for children. Let’s face it: the Bible was not written for seven-year-olds! When adapting Scripture stories for children, however, it is imperative that we remain faithful to Sacred Scripture and not change the essence of the stories we are relating. For example, until I was an adult, I thought that, in the story of Cain and Abel, Cain’s offering was not […]

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