Service as a Catalyst for Missionary Discipleship

The corporal works of mercy play an important part in discipleship. When acts of service are planned to intentionally proclaim the Gospel and treat all people as if they were Jesus in disguise (see Matthew 25:34–40), they are a catalyst for initial and ongoing conversion. In her wisdom, the Church outlines a systematic and comprehensive process of evangelization and faith formation that nurtures conversion. This process of evangelization includes the following five stages. Pre-evangelization Initial […]

How to Be a More Evangelizing Catechist #4: Don’t Avoid the Cross

It is a fairly common practice in advertising to garner attention by making a claim about a product or service that is counterintuitive or defies commonly accepted reasoning. For example: a diet plan promises that you can lose weight in 30 days while eating all the bacon you want; a light beer promises robust flavor with only 64 calories; a body lotion promises to physically reshape your body; a bracelet promises to relieve arthritic pain. […]

In-House Service Experiences: Reading Books to Young Children

It’s not always easy for young people to arrange to participate in service experiences, since they rely on adults for transportation. Likewise, as a catechist or teacher, it can sometimes be difficult logistically to plan opportunities for your students to participate in off-site service experiences. One solution is to arrange for older children to spend some time reading books to younger children! Young children love to be read to. In addition to that, reading aloud to […]

Empowering Young People to Become Women and Men for Others

Here’s a great idea that Fr. Tom Sweetser, SJ, recently passed along in his newsletter from the Parish Evaluation Project (reprinted with permission). The St. Francis Xavier Elementary School in Phoenix, AZ has as its mission and purpose, “Empowering students to become men and women for others through faith, service, and justice.”  One concrete way of carrying out this mission is a creative project for the 7th and 8th grade students called The Arrupe Project. It was […]

Five Ideas for Including the Year of Mercy in the Classroom

After my first year working as the Director of Faith Formation, I realized that I had spent very little time focusing on Christian service with my students. Though service has been a great influence on my own faith, with our calendar already packed with so much curriculum to cover, service seemed like something extra—something nice to have if we could find the time. The Year of Mercy, however, offers catechists a unique opportunity to be […]

Service Within the Context of Faith and Discipleship

More and more, I am finding that many parishes have numerous adults involved—under the radar, in many respects—in giving service to others. On a weekly basis, folks are visiting/staffing food pantries, homeless shelters, soup kitchens, and so on. They are preparing sandwiches, folding clothing donations, and delivering meals to people. All of this is wonderful. However, we are not doing enough to help people see their efforts through the lens of faith. There are numerous […]

Looking for Ideas for Do-it-Yourself Service Projects

I’m looking for ideas for “do-it-yourself” service projects—things that can be done on site at the parish with 20 or 30 adult volunteers in a couple of hours. One such idea, albeit quite ambitious, is the Helping Hands project from Catholic Relief Services. This requires 40 volunteers and a minimum of two hours to package 10,000 meals! For the upcoming Year of Mercy, I hope to work with a local parish to organize opportunities for […]

A Culture of Service

Joking with my students one day I said, “Jesus didn’t gather his apostles around him and say, ‘Lets do a service project!’” Jesus gave us an example of how to serve one another, and I like to encourage a culture of service in my classroom. Teaching service as a way of life can be challenging with younger children. Our students are very empathetic, and I find that having many service projects throughout the year uses […]

Service, Adult Faith Formation, and the St. Vincent de Paul Society

Let me start by emphasizing that service to others is a constituitive element of all faith formation, including adult faith formation (see the Six Tasks of Catechesis). With that in mind, I met last evening with 2 extraordinary gentlemen (both named Bill) from the St. Vincent de Paul Society at St. Barnabas parish in Chicago where I am exploring the ins and outs of adult faith formation. Both of these gentlemen are in their 70s and […]

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