Catechist Corner

It's all about sharing the faith.

In a Year

First, let me wish all of my readers a Happy and Blessed New Year!  I hope you have much joy throughout 2012.

As I look forward to the new year, I have been trying to set some goals for myself.  One thing I’ve been considering doing for some time now is to read the Bible completely.  It can easily be a daunting task when you look at the thickness of the book itself, but there is no doubt as to the value one can obtain from reading all of salvation history in Holy Scripture.

As I’ve considered how to best tackle the undertaking, I’ve come across a number of suggestions on how to read through the Bible.  The approach I’ve settled on is to read the Bible in one year.  Many of the one year plans I’ve seen are based on the Protestant Bible, but I did come across a document from an organization called The Coming Home Network International.  They have a plan to not only read the Bible in a year, but the Catechism of the Catholic Church as well.

I’ve taken their plan schedule and also built it into a spreadsheet format that allows me to keep track of my progress right on my iPad as I use my Bible app and a CCC link right off of that device.  I can read my daily reading from anywhere, and if I miss a day along the way, it’s very easy to catch right back up.  For those interested in the plan, below are links to the original PDF as well as my spreadsheet versions. I would suggest that one always looks at the PDF first, even if they want to use the spreadsheets because the PDF contains some additional guidance where the spreadsheets are exclusively the listing of the daily readings.

Read the Bible and the Catechism in a Year
Original PDF Format
Excel Spreadsheet Format
Open Document Spreadsheet Format

 

I’m looking forward to my own personal growth as I read through the Bible fully, along with the Catechism and I know it will absolutely help in my catechetical ministries.  I hope it can be helpful to all of you as well.

Until next time, keep sharing the faith.

Wabbit Season or Duck Season?

Neither, but it sure does seem to be Webinar Season.

I have been lucky enough to have participated in two excellent webinars over the past couple of weeks that have really helped me to reconsider how I should engage in my ministry.

The first webinar was presented by Jonathan F. Sullivan, who is the Director of Catechetical Ministries for the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois.  The webinar was titled “Catechizing Digital Natives” and focused on the different ways that today’s kids process and learn information.  Below is the video recording of the webinar and here is a link to some of the resources discussed in the video.

The second webinar was presented by Joe Paprocki from Catechist’s Journey.com and Loyola Press.  Joe is well known among Catechists as not only an author of numerous books about being a Catechist, but also as an 8th Grade Catechist himself.  His webinar was titled “Growing as a Catechist: A Self-Evaluation Based on 7 Critical Tools from The Catechist’s Toolbox” and focused on how to reflect on our own ministries with the goal of tweaking our approach and preparation to add more impact when we catechize.

I found both of these webinars so valuable that I just had to share them with you.  As Catechists, sometimes we feel like we are left to our own devices and it’s nice to know that there are others out there who share their ideas with us.  It’s amazing when you find out that the problems you face in your classrooms and parishes are not as unique as you might think.

Until next time, keep sharing the faith!

Catechetical Congress

Catechesis and the Proclamation of the WordThis weekend, I was blessed to have attended the Archdiocese of Boston’s annual Catechetical Congress.  It proved to be a wonderful opportunity to meet and share ideas with other catechists from all across the area.  The congress was kicked off with a prayer service that was led by Archbishop Seán Cardinal O’Malley, which was both beautiful and multi-lingual to celebrate the diversity that can be found in the Archdiocese.  In fact, Cardinal O’Malley offered his reflection in both English and Spanish, switching between the two throughout his reflection.

Our keynote speaker for the English program was Joe Paprocki from Loyola Press.  My loyal readers will recognize him from my frequent referrals to his blog, Catechist’s Journey; but besides being an insightful blogger on catechesis, he is also an author as well as an 8th grade catechist.  His address, “Catechesis That Enters Through ‘Their Door’ but Leaves Through ‘Your Door'” was all about connecting with your students’ lives with practical tips for overcoming the generational gap that can exist between catechist and student.  I think his insights were spot on since I experience what he pointed out each week with my 6th graders.

Aside from Joe’s address, there were a number of workshop options available throughout the rest of the day.  I attended a morning session called TIPS which shared creative ways to make that class more interactive and more organized to help foster a higher level of learning while keeping the students active and engaged through the class session and throughout the year.  For the afternoon session, I chose to attend a presentation by our diocesan Office for the New Evangelization of Youth and Young Adults.  This session was a perfect compliment to Joe’s comments because it explored the mindset of today’s youth when it comes to God.  It focused on reading the signals that the youth are sending us and offered some practical approached to strenghting our own signals back to them regarding the Good News.

In reflection, I’m glad that I atteneded this year’s congress.  Not only did I learn a lot from those presenting at the event, but I benefited greatly from the interaction with and participation of the attendees, many of which are more experienced that me in catechesis.  As an added benefit, I got to meet some really great people there and was inspired by the focus and support that the Archdiocese of Boston places on this ministry.

Until next time, keep sharing the faith!

School Break

Sorry it’s been so long since you guys have heard from me.  I forgot just how much of a commitment taking a course requires; and if you think that because it’s an online course you can coast through it, don’t be fooled.  If you want to get the most out of an online course, you still need to commit just as much time to it. 

I have to admit that the whole structure of an online course took some getting used to.  It really does require a certain amount of self-direction and motivation that differs from a course with a physical classroom setting and an instructor.  The role of the facilitator for this type of course is to guide and provoke discussion more than it is to teach.  Most of the education comes from reading material, exercises, reflection and discussion with other students through the use of discussion boards.  Once I adjusted to the structure, I could appreciate this method of learning much more. 

As for the course itself, the “Catholic Beliefs” course at the VLCFF was great!!  It allowed me to gain a deeper understanding of many of the basic teachings of the Catholic Church, thereby helping further deepen my faith.  We focused on various topics including the purpose and true meaning of the Creed, and compared the three versions of the Creed used by the Church since its inception.  Did you know there were three Creeds?  We also learned what the true teaching of the Church is regarding Papal Infallibility, the difference between Church “Tradition” and “tradition”, the intent of the Second Vatican Council for the Universal Church and the importance of community in catechesis, especially as it relates to children.  I had definite misconceptions about some of these teachings and so did many of my classmates. 

A course like this can definitely be humbling.  Just when you think you know a lot about the teachings of the Church you realize that your knowledge may be superficial at best.  Most of what we know go so much deeper then we realize and has a much broader meaning then what is commonly known.  Do you really think about the words of the Nicene Creed when you recite it as Mass?  When you really focus on it and understand its deeper meaning, you begin to appreciate just how powerful this statement really is!! 

I have two weeks between courses.  Starting on August 30th, I begin the second course for my certification.  I’m looking forward to “Introduction to Catechesis” and I anticipate that I will be taking more courses beyond those required for my certification as time goes on.  There is so much to learn.

Back to School

Clip art licensed from the Clip Art Gallery on DiscoverySchool.comBackpack – Check!

Notebook – Check!

Pens and Pencils – Check!

Loose Leaf Paper – Check!

Pocket Folder – Check!

Brain – Question_Mark

As you know, I’m going to be working towards my diocesan Catechist Certification over the next few months and my first course starts next week.  As you can see, I’ve got all my school supplies ready.  Unfortunately, they are all going to sit in the closet unused.  Why?  Because for the first time ever, I’m going to be taking an online course and, aside from the books I have to read, I’m going to do this “paperless”.

Starting tonight at midnight, the mystery will be revealed to me.  When I wake up tomorrow, I will have access to the course materials and the course will start the following day.  I’ve known this was coming for quite a while, but somehow I don’t feel ready.  I’m not sure if it’s because it is Summer and it feels like “slow down” time or if it’s because it has been eight years since I’ve been a student in a class, but I’ve becoming somewhat apprehensive about it.

As I reflect on this, it hits me.  This is the exact same feeling I felt when I was trying to decide whether or not to help our parish out by becoming a Catechist.  Apprehension.  Insecurity.  A feeling that maybe I’ve made a mistake and this is just not for me.

This made me recall a homily given by a new priest, Fr. Hugh Macsherry, OFM at St. Anthony’s Shrine in Boston last Wednesday.  During that homily, he spoke about discernment.  It wasn’t just about the traditional discernment of a vocation, but about discernment of what we are called to do in all parts of life and at all points in life.  A big part of discernment is trust.

You’d think that by now I’d have this figured out.  It is time to put aside my doubt once again and begin to trust.  I need to trust that the Holy Spirit is calling me to further my faith so that I can help further others’.  Maybe it’s time to put a check next to “Brain” too?  I think I’ll keep that school supply with me though.  I’m pretty sure that I’ll need that one.

I’ll be sure to keep you guys posted on my progress.

*”Back to School” clip art licensed from the Clip Art Gallery on Discoveryschool.com.