Guest Post: Catechist Formation: We Owe it To Them!

Joe Paprocki is the catechist’s best friend. In addition to serving as a National Consultant for Faith Formation at Loyola Press and authoring some great books, including The Catechist’s Toolbox and Practice Makes Catholic, the “grand poobah” of catechetical blogging is celebrating five years at the keyboard this month. It’s a pleasure to be part of the celebration by hosting this guest post!

5 years may not seem like a long time, but in blog years, I guess that’s ancient! Back in 2006, when I was asked to begin a blog (to accompany the release of my book The Catechist’s Toolbox), my first reaction was, “What’s a blog?” I had heard of blogs but was not at the time following any. Now, 5 years later, I have written over 1200 posts! I guess I learned what a blog is after all.

If I’ve learned anything over the past 5 years of writing Catechist’s Journey, it is that catechists are incredibly dedicated and creative but are in need of support. Over the years, I have received countless emails from catechists who find themselves struggling as they attempt to transmit the Good News to a new generation. Just recently, I received the following email from a catechist looking for help:

I am a new Catechist as of this year. I teach an 8th grade class and my biggest problem is getting the kids to pay attention and show some interest in the subject matter. About half of the 8th grade book is about Church history. My problem with just following the book is that reading bores the kids. They don’t pay attention, they talk, they pull out their phones and text when I am not looking, etc. I need help!

I make a habit of replying personally to every email such as this that I receive, offering whatever suggestions and insights I can to help them turn the corner. One might ask, “Where are their catechetical leaders and why aren’t they helping their catechists?” The fact is, many of our catechetical leaders are struggling as well. In too many parishes, pastors seeking to cut costs have let their professional catechetical leaders go in favor of volunteers or program secretaries who know how to order text books and make class lists but have little or no training in forming catechists which is a critical responsibility of the DRE. I have spent almost as much time responding to emails from novice catechetical leaders as I have novice catechists.

Suffice to say, the catechetical ministry needs all the support it can get. If my blog, Catechist’s Journey, and the various Webinars I have offered over these past 5 years have in some small way contributed to the care, nurturing, and support of catechists and catechetical ministers, I am indeed grateful. Let’s pray that the Church continues to find ways to support all those in the catechetical ministry. We owe it to them!

Joe Paprocki, D.Min., is National Consultant for Faith Formation at Loyola Press in Chicago. He has over 25 years of experience in pastoral ministry in the Archdiocese of Chicago. Joe is the author of numerous books on pastoral ministry and catechesis, including the best-selling The Catechist’s Toolbox and A Well-Built Faith. Joe recently received his doctor of ministry degree from the University of St. Mary of the Lake, Mundelein, IL. Joe serves as an 8th grade catechist and blogs about the experience at Catechist’s Journey. He and his wife, Joanne, and their two grown children live in Evergreen Park, IL.