Baptismal Crosses and Baptism Reunions

In his book, Excellence in Ministry: Best Practices for Successful Catechetical Leadership (part of the Effective Catechetical Leader series from Loyola Press and NCCL), my friend Tom Quinlan wisely suggests the following: My strong exhortation for parishes today is to front-load their efforts at impacting family systems. There is much more proverbial bang for the buck in doing front-loaded, early family evangelization ministry than anything later down the road! From my experience, baptismal ministry gets next-to-nothing […]

Prayer Sticks

Last winter, a teacher friend of mine posted a photo of her classroom showing her “task sticks” for her students. On each stick was written a specific task for the student who held it, such as “line leader,” “pencil patrol,” and “librarian.” I was trying to think of a way to engage my class in prayerful habits during Lent when I saw her task sticks. I thought I could borrow her idea and make “prayer […]

The Centrality of Evangelizing Households

Right before the holidays, I had the pleasure of enjoying a long, lazy lunch with my friend Tom Quinlan, Director of the Religious Education Office for the Diocese of Joliet and author of Excellence in Ministry: Best Practices for Successful Catechetical Leadership, part of the Effective Catechetical Leader series from Loyola Press and NCCL. Over a period of almost three hours, Tom and I chatted about a myriad of issues related to our shared passion—the catechetical […]

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 […]

The Key to Effective Family Catechesis: Adult Faith Formation

Recently, I shared information about our exciting new Family Catechesis programs from Loyola Press. I can’t emphasize enough that the key to an effective family catechesis program is the formation of the parents and that, if you are taking the time to form parents well as part of a family catechesis approach, you have “killed two birds with one stone”—you have not only introduced a new model for children’s faith formation, you have successfully implemented […]

Helping Parents Connect Faith and Daily Living

One of the saddest things I hear is when people explain that they don’t practice their Catholic faith because they don’t find a connection between it and daily living. I believe that it is the job of every catechist and every homilist to show how our faith connects with daily living. Too often, when we talk about getting parents more involved in their child’s faith formation, we jump to the fact that they don’t know […]

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, […]

Praying with Families in the Classroom

Prayer is essential for a relationship with Jesus Christ. One of the most important responsibilities we have as catechists is to help our students develop a life of prayer. I encourage my students to find ways to pray with their families, and to facilitate that I invite parents and younger siblings to be part of our prayer circle at the end of each class. While children haven’t yet learned to be self-conscious about prayer, parents […]

Fostering Communication with Parents

As catechists, we want to partner with parents as closely as possible on their child’s faith formation journey, but we are often frustrated with the lack of interaction we have with the parents of those we teach. Recently, I received the following question from a catechist named Susanne: “Any tried and true ways to get information to and from parents of third graders? I find paper notes left behind in class, folders never coming back […]

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