interior of "Remember Us with Smiles" book by Grace and Gary Jansen

Catechists as the Keepers of Memories

One of the most inspiring images presented in the new Directory for Catechesis is the image of the catechist as the “keeper of the memory of God.” Here’s what the Directory has to say: The catechist is a witness of faith and the keeper of the memory of God. The faith contains the memory of God’s history with humanity. Keeping this memory, reawakening it in others, and placing it at the service of the proclamation […]

group of catechists
Being a Catechist

Catechists as Co-Missionaries

Each year when catechists are commissioned on Catechetical Sunday, I envision Jesus’ Great Commission before he ascended into heaven: Later he appeared to the eleven themselves as they were sitting at the table; and he upbraided them for their lack of faith and stubbornness, because they had not believed those who saw him after he had risen. And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the good news to the whole […]

light bulb note on cork board suggesting idea or aha moment
Being a Catechist

I Am a Catechist

Last spring, I checked something off my catechetical bucket list and attended the Los Angeles Religion Education Congress. I had my first “a-ha” moment within the first seven minutes, and more followed over the next several days. Jayne Ragasa Mondoy’s presentation on cultivating catechists was a lightning-bolt moment for me when she said, “We don’t do catechesis; we are catechists.” I often say to people, “I teach Sunday school.” Rarely do I say, “I am […]

What's your favorite thing about being a catechist? - question and question marks
Being a Catechist

10 Favorite Things About Being a Catechist

What’s your favorite thing about being a catechist? We asked this question on our Catholic Faith Formation Facebook page and got some great responses. My first graders renewed my energy for teaching them, with their innocence and enthusiasm. My seventh graders challenge me to step it up and try to help them through the jungle of unbeliefs they are facing in their everyday world. —Ruth Campbell Spitzer Renewing my faith through sharing it with others […]

lead catechist and high school volunteer
Being a Catechist

Teaching with a Co-Catechist

As much as I love teaching my religious education class, I enjoy sharing the responsibility with a co-catechist. Knowing that there are some Sundays when someone else is leading the class gives me some breathing room during the week. I’ve taught with veteran catechists and with first-timers. I’ve taught with parents of students in the class and with high-school and college students. Everyone has been a little different, but they all have provided opportunities for […]

catechist at desk
Being a Catechist

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 […]

catechist with young children
Primary Grades

Being a Catechist in Two Parishes

I first volunteered to be a catechist 14 years ago at my home parish of Mary, Mother of the Redeemer when my son was preparing for his First Holy Communion; a few years later, a friend mentioned that our neighboring parish, St. Jude, was in need of additional catechists. I volunteered to be a substitute catechist, but soon became a regular catechist there, where I also prepared children to celebrate First Holy Communion, which has […]

Catechetical Sunday 2017 - Living as Missionary Disciples
Being a Catechist

Discipleship Is a Relationship—Catechetical Sunday 2017

This Sunday, September 17, 2017, is Catechetical Sunday, with the theme of “Living as Missionary Disciples.” I’d like to take this time to offer my gratitude and affirmation for all catechists who have responded to the call to serve in this heroic vocation and this splendid ministry! For many of us, the notion of discipleship is still a bit of a mystery. What exactly does it mean to be a missionary disciple? It sounds like a […]

personal trainer

The Catechist as a Personal Trainer for Prayer Life

“Central aspects of the formation of children are training in prayer and introduction to Sacred Scripture” (General Directory for Catechesis 178). Today let’s focus on the training in prayer part of that. Training indeed is key, but how do we understand that? Think of a personal trainer: when we need to get in shape or need new motivation to stay in shape, we might hire a trainer to teach us the basics of fitness and […]

baseball coach

How to Be a Prayer Coach

It’s no coincidence that some of the best coaches and managers in sports are former players themselves. They understand what it’s like to be on the court, field, or ice. In fact, some of the best coaches and managers are those who themselves struggled during their playing years. As a result of their struggles, they studied the game more intensively, seeking to learn every nuance that might assist them since their own pure talent was marginal. […]