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.

Goodbye 6’ers. Hello 9’ers.

No, I’m not switching sports teams; but I am switching grades.  Due to some schedule changes going on at the parish for religious education, I will not be teaching 6th grade next year.  Instead, I’ll be moving up to 9th graders. To be honest, that’s somewhat intimidating to me.  I remember what high school was like and how certain students interacted with their teachers so I feel a bit anxious about it.  The good news is that I remember what high school was like so I least I can prepare a little bit for the experience.

Over the past year, I’ve been looking at a lot of resources on the internet gathering ideas on class setup and lesson structure.  Part of what I plan to do next year is to throw my students off their game a bit.  The grade’s primary curriculum will be an in depth look at the Mass.  This will be a topic that will lend itself to discussion, so I’m going to move the students away from the tables and have the chairs placed in an open circle in the center of the room.  My hope is that the proximity to me and the other students will make the discussions more lively and intimate.  It should set the tone that all must participate and it doesn’t give anyone a place to hide. A huge plus is that there will be no table there to help them hide their texting under and while that hasn’t been a huge problem in the past, with an older grade I wanted to eliminate the temptation. My CRE is also working on a way to incorporate Theology of the Body into the year.  My experience is that sex is on every teen’s (and tween’s) mind, but they are uncomfortable discussing the topic with any reliable source of information.  I suggested a student retreat as an option for covering some of the material.

Intimidation aside, I’m actually excited about the change.  The Mass is such a central part of how we express our faith that I think this has so much potential.  Additionally, I’m hoping the three year difference in age will make for more intelligent discussions as compared to what I was able to have with my 6th graders.  I’m pretty sure the students will keep me on my toes, so I ask for your prayers that the Holy Spirit wins out.

Until next time, keep sharing the faith!

CNMC MMX

CNMC MMXAs you all know, I’m a fan of a number of Catholic podcasts and blogs, a few of which can be found on my blogroll and such.  I use the information from these various podcasts and blogs, not only to further my own knowledge and faith, but also to help me supplement and creatively deliver catechesis to my religious education students.  Things that I have used in class like the Three Js, my room setup and ways to vary lessons from week to week, have all come from bloggers or podcasters.

The Catholic New Media Celebration is an annual gathering of podcaters and bloggers where ideas are shared, newbies are inspired, and old friends (whether virtual or physical) get together.  This year, the CNMC will be happening in Boston, right in my neck of the woods.  I decided that I just could not pass up this opportunity, not only to meet the people behind the voices and the text, but to learn a thing or two from those in attendance.

The CNMC MMX (i.e. Catholic New Media Celebration 2010) will be happening on August 7th at the Pastoral Center for the Archdiocese of Boston.  Will you be there?

For more information, watch the video below or go to http://www.celebration.sqpn.com.

Until next time, keep sharing the faith!

Ask Sister Mary Martha

I follow a number of Catholic blogs in the blogosphere. They range from priests to religious to laity and cover a number of topics from catechesis to living an everyday Catholic life. One of my absolute favorite Catholic bloggers is Sr. Mary Martha from “Ask Sister Mary Martha” where her tagline is “Life is tough. Nuns are tougher.” Sister is hilarious to say the least. Her online personality reminds me of the role of the nun in a performance of “Late Night Catechism” I saw a few years ago, and I mean that in a good way. Have I mentioned how hilarious she is yet?

Anyway, Sister usually answers reader-submitted questions on her blog. Last week, she answered a question from a catechist around the use of the left hand for making the sign of the cross. This post really got me thinking about the various traditions and devotions that exist in the Catholic Church. Our faith has so much to strengthen us as we progress through our faith journeys. I went to Catholic school from Kindergarten through high school and was constantly exposed to ways of expressing our faith, not only through prayer but through action as well. I can clearly remember learning the Hail Holy Queen in 3rd grade, learning how to pray the Rosary, walking the Stations of the Cross every Lent, attending First Friday Mass throughout the school year, learning how to follow along using a missalette (talk about confusing!) and having Benediction periodically. (Boy, I hated the smell of incense back then!!)

All of my students go to public school and therefore they get none of that exposure. For example, I was shocked to find out that none of my students had ever done the Stations of the Cross before!?! Many of these traditions are opportunities to better understand the meaning of our faith and to strengthen us spiritually. Additionally, they are beautiful, especially when you understand their history and meaning. I would love to be able to expose my students to these practices as tools to further their understanding of Catholic faith.

I have two challenges here. The first is time. How does one go about giving their students exposure to some of these traditions and devotions when one is limited to 1 hour a week with a full lesson’s worth of material to cover? The second challenge is the fact that while they are not exposed to this at school, most are not exposed to this at home either. Even if I could find the time to do at least a cursory review of some of these practices in class, there is very little expectation that it will stick without exposure to it outside of class.

I guess I have a whole summer to figure this out. Have any of you found successful ways of exposing your students to the beautiful devotions of the Church and its faithful (and making them stick)?

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!