Connecting with Middle Schoolers on Zoom

In the past few months, I learned that middle-school students know what is going on in the world and are deeply affected by it. I learned that they understand the power of prayer, especially in interceding for others. I learned that they turn to God when they are scared. I learned that they love their families intensely. How did I learn this? I learned it during our weekly Zoom calls, during which I offered them […]

Creating an Online Presence in One Week: A Tale of One Chicago Parish

When stay-at-home orders went into effect in mid-March because of the pandemic, many parish religious education programs found themselves facing unimaginable challenges. The main challenge, of course, was how to reach families and children who still had another six weeks of faith formation sessions left in the catechetical year. Many catechetical leaders and catechists all over the country responded with heroic efforts to sustain their programs through virtual contact. One such parish is St. Sylvester, […]

Technology, Prayer, and Catechesis

CatechistsJourney.com ® is a service of Loyola Press, publishers of Encontrando a Dios, a fully bilingual faith formation program for grades 1–8. When it comes to prayer, many of us think that it is a prerequisite to turn off all electronic devices that might distract us. Although we certainly need to cut down on distractions, the truth is, the world of cyberspace offers us numerous opportunities to deepen our prayer lives. With that in mind, […]

Forming a “Sheen Squad” for I.T. Assistance in RE Programs

The New Evangelization calls for presenting the Gospel with a new “ardor, methods, and expression.” I propose a new “expression” that would meet a pressing need in our faith formation programs: the “SHEEN SQUAD” to assist catechists with I.T. needs. It would be composed of teens/young adults who volunteer as aides for religious education programs to help catechists integrate technology into their sessions. The name, of course, mimicks the well-known “Geek Squad” which offers computer-related services […]

The Lure of Technology

I mentioned in my post the other day that I used my laptop and LCD projector to invite my 6th graders to come forward and arrange images in chronological order to tell the Exodus/Passover story and that they did this for the parents who were visiting for Open House. One of the parents attending had her 3rd grade son with her and he was transfixed by the images on the screen. As we were nearing […]

Catechists in Action – Marge Introduces the Theme for the Session

In this segment of Catechists in Action, Marge Garbacz introduces the theme for the evening’s RCIA session (Human Dignity), drawn from Practice Makes Catholic. Watch for the following: Marge nicely ties in the theme for the evening, human dignity, with the Gospel reading just reflected on (the Man Born Blind). Marge describes how I introduce the theme of human dignity in Practice Makes Catholic by talking about a song from the musical Chicago: Mr. Cellophane to emphasize […]

“People like that have poop for brains” – Pardon my “French”

Last evening’s class was a lot of fun and very productive. I told the kids that they were going to take a “final exam” and, of course, they all freaked out. I then proceeded to calm their fears and tell them that we were going to review first and that the test was just a way to see what “stuck” and what we might need to cover on our last class. I then did the […]

Using SKYPE in Catechesis

My friend Victor Valdez, a DRE in Mountain View, CA, sent me this link about an 8th grade language arts teacher in Iowa who invited his students to select a name from the CNN Heroes finalists so that he could arrange for them to speak with him or her using SKYPE. Eighth Graders Learn Big Lessons from CNN Heroes Assignment Victor astutely suggests that this would be a great idea for a religious education class in […]

Spiritual Direction for Catechists – Online!

A friend of mine who is a spiritual director is now offering spiritual direction online via Skype, Ichat, Google Talk or ooVoo. Check it out! http://www.spiritualdirectiononline.com/Spiritual_Direction/Distance_Spiritual_Direction.html I’ve talked here before about the benefit of spiritual direction for catechists…this might be an opportunity for you to look into!

I Need Your Input

For my next lesson, I plan to show my class some kid-friendly, Catholic Web sites where they can learn about the Catholic faith. I’m looking for Web sites that are appropriate for intermediate grade kids (grades 4-6), are interactive, and invite kids to learn about and practice the Catholic faith. I have a few in mind already, but I’d like to know what sites you know of and would recommend. I look forward to your […]

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