Praying with Second Graders

The longer I am a catechist, the more I feel the need to focus on prayer with the children in my classes. For so long I limited prayer to the start and end of class, and I encouraged the children to memorize traditional prayers. But I didn’t do much else. Now I lead the children in exploring new and varied ways to pray so they can grow in their personal relationship with God. Early in […]

The First Class of the Year

What is your goal for the first day of faith formation? My goal is to set the tone for the year, build community, and inspire everyone to come back for week two. Each week my lesson plan has a theme. My theme for our first class is “Connected by God’s Love.” In some sense, this is our theme for our whole year. God is at the center of why we all are there. God is […]

Introducing the Saints to My Class

Over the last few years I have become more and more attentive to the saints. I am not sure if this heightened awareness came from being a catechist, but it surely has changed the way I catechize. As a second-grade catechist, I introduce the children to saints of the month, we have an All Saints Day celebration, and the children complete a saint’s report. Each month I pick two saints whose feast days fall during […]

Preparing for First Holy Communion

Every year, the number one question from my second graders as they prepare for First Holy Communion is, “Mrs. Coleman, what does it taste like? My brother said it tastes like paper.” My typical response to this concern is, “Does your brother often eat paper?” My concerns as a catechist are a bit different than the children’s. The closer we get to First Eucharist, the more I worry: Are they ready? Do they truly understand? […]

Teaching the Corporal Works of Mercy

Even though I have a lot of topics to cover in preparing second graders to celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation and First Holy Communion, I always make it a point to introduce the corporal works of mercy to my students. I start by reading Matthew 25:31–46, and together we list the actions listed in these Gospel verses. I then ask the children to answer the question, “What are ways you share God’s peace?” I point […]

Engaging Students with a Church Tour

One of my favorite days of the year is when I lead second-graders on a church tour as part of their preparation for First Eucharist. I like to show them and their parents things in the church they might never have noticed or things they may see all the time but not fully understand what they are or why they are there. Before one such tour last spring, I launched into my usual welcome speech. […]

Developing Students’ Prayerful Habits During Lent

Over my years as a catechist, I have become firmly convinced that our mission is not as much to teach children about Jesus but introduce them to Jesus. Having a personal relationship with Jesus is very different than only learning information about him. The best way for children, or any of us, to come to know Jesus is through prayer. I introduce and model many experiences of prayer throughout the year; I am especially conscious […]

Preparing Students for Reconciliation

Once or twice a year all the children in our parish religious education program celebrate the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation during class time. For most of them, this is the only time they will receive this sacrament during the year. With that in mind, I spend some time preparing these children to celebrate Reconciliation. I start preparing a few weeks before they will celebrate the sacrament. I don’t go into too much depth at […]

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 […]

Understanding Reconciliation: A Lesson from the Lost Sheep

My students are celebrating their First Reconciliation in February, and I have been trying to find engaging ways to introduce my students to Scripture stories that will help them to understand the sacrament (such as playing the Game of the Good Shepherd). I am hoping that they will come to a deeper understanding of the sacrament by experiencing the Parable of the Lost Sheep through the eyes of the different characters in the story. After […]

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