Pray as the New Year Begins

As you and your catechists begin the new learning year, what might you say is the most important thing that you can do to prepare? When I consider that question in light of my own ministry work, I may be tempted to say something about having my materials and my space in order. But when I pause to reflect more deeply, I remember that the most important thing I can do to prepare is pray. […]

Where Have You Been, Lord? Praying the Examen with Your Families

I always found our opening prayers for Confirmation and First Eucharist meetings to be challenging. Normally these involved something written down, something we would all read together, or maybe a pertinent piece of Scripture, or maybe both. It often felt dry and mechanical. What I wanted to do was engage our families, invite them to get to know the Jesus I knew—a Jesus who was active, interesting, and intensely interested in their lives. The question […]

The Spiritual Life of Catechists, Part 3: Personal Prayer

This is the third article in a series about the spiritual life of catechists, inspired by the list of characteristics in the National Directory for Catechesis. Catechists are called to a strong prayer life, having not only a habit of regular personal prayer but a living relationship with God. The Catechism describes prayer as God’s gift, a covenant relationship, and communion of life in Christ. Through it, we discover God, who dwells in each human […]

This is MY Story!

I was delighted to discover last evening that my 6th graders had retained a great deal of what we covered during the year! In essence, I really emphasized 3 main topics this year: Old Testament stories, the Ten Commandments, and the Sacraments. Last night, we did a review of the Old Testament stories and it went very nicely. Here’s a pic that sets the stage: On the board is the theme/big idea for the session […]

Ash Wednesday and Lent: Holiness is a Habit

Welcome to Lent…a time to rid ourselves of habits that are doing little good or even causing harm to ourselves and others and to replace them with habits that are life-giving. Unfortunately, old habits die hard. And contrary to the popular notion that habits can be changed in 21 days, experts tell us that it can take up to a year to change old habits and develop new ones. Lent is 40 days for a reason: holiness is […]

The Psalms – We Can Talk to God Under ANY Circumstances!

Tonight’s session will focus on the Psalms and how they represent prayers for every occasion and emotion. I enjoy this session because it gives me the opportunity to incorporate contemporary music into the session. This year, for the first time, I am also having the young people bring in songs that they have selected (although with last week’s snow day, I wonder how many will remember!). Anyway, here’s the plan: Session 18 – The Psalms […]

Lent Resources for Small Faith Groups

As Lent approaches, many parishes and college campuses look to form small faith groups so that people can share the journey of Lent together. Here are some great resources for small faith groups from Loyola Press that I recommend: Online Lenten Opportunities for Small Groups Arts & Faith: Lent – A visual prayer experience for Lent. Each week provides a video commentary about a work of art inspired by the Sunday Scriptures. The Ignatian Workout for Lent: […]

It Was the Quietest of Times, It Was the Noisiest of Times!

Our session this past Tuesday (Jan. 14, 2014) was very enjoyable and was a study in contrasts. I actually began the session (after preliminary chit-chat and our opening prayer ritual) with a guided reflection in which I invited the young people to talk with Jesus about what they have learned in the first half of the year. The kids were amazingly quiet! It was a very prayerful experience and, in all, lasted about 15 minutes. You […]

Stories of Abraham and Jacob: Around the “Campfire” (While Roasting Marshmallows!)

This evening’s session is all about storytelling! First, we need to finish our work on the stories of Abraham, Sarah, and Isaac from last week but then we will segue immediately into the great stories of that rascal, Jacob! To set the mood for the storytelling, I’m going to build a pretend campfire! Take a look: (For directions on how to make the pretend campfire and marshmallows, visit http://www.funinthemaking.net/2009/02/17/pretend-to-campout-how-to-make-a-pretend-campfire-and-paper-marshmallows/). Here’s the overall plan: BIG IDEA: […]

“I Pray for Malala”

During our prayer the other night, as the young people were offering intercessions, one young lady said, “I pray for Malala, the girl from Pakistan, who is speaking out about peoples’ rights.” After the prayer, I acknowledged this intercession and said how impressed I was that she had mentioned Malala Yousafzai and began to explain her story to the class in case some were not familiar with her. She is an education activist who was shot […]

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