The Catechist as Kingdom-Dweller (Guest post by Joe Paprocki)

Joe Paprocki needs no introduction.

The crowds who heard the first proclamation of the Kingdom of God by the Apostles on Pentecost reacted by thinking that the Apostles were drunk – they clearly seemed to be operating in an alternate reality. What else would explain the seemingly reckless behavior of this small band of men eagerly announcing their allegiance to a convicted criminal who was recently executed as a traitor to the Roman Empire? It was the transformation of the hearts of this small group of followers that caught the imagination of the crowds. They looked and sounded perfectly secure and fearless in the face of real and enduring danger. They exuded the one thing we all desire: security.

beer taps - photo by ricciardella | morguefileThe reason the crowds considered the Apostles inebriated was their lack of inhibition. Alcohol, of course, is known for reducing inhibitions. The Apostles, who had been in hiding for several weeks out of fear for their own lives, were now totally uninhibited in proclaiming their allegiance to Jesus Christ. It is this inhibition that is characteristic of folks who “dwell” in the Kingdom of God. As catechists, we are called to be uninhibited proclaimers of the Kingdom, showing total inhibition when it comes to…

  • putting our own needs aside in order to tend to the needs of others.
  • having a lightness of being; not flippant, but possessing the ability to brighten up a room.
  • carrying an unwavering sense of serenity, even in the midst of turmoil; being unflappable.
  • winking at the foibles and shortcomings of others instead of putting them in their place.
  • finding the energy to repay even the grumpiest of people with graciousness and civility.
  • always having the best interests of others in mind, even when we fail.
  • staying on message even under duress.
  • remaining even-keeled and reasonable in the face of conflict.
  • practicing mindfulness.

The Kingdom of God that we proclaim as catechists is a reality that is in our midst, albeit unseen. Unseen, that is, until Kingdom-dwellers exhibit uninhibited wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, reverence, and awe – the Gifts that flow abundantly from the Spirit! May we and those we teach become inebriated!

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.