5 New Year Resolutions for Catechetical Leaders

With the inauguration of 2014 it’s time once again to engage in the annual practice of setting New Year resolutions! And while I think too many people make resolutions without thinking about how they will support them, there are plenty of ways that we, as catechetical leaders, can work to deepen our ministry in the coming year.

Here are five suggestions for improving your leadership in 2014:

  1. Hone Your Leadership Skills While many of us have degrees in theology, religious studies, and education, these degrees don’t always prepare us for the day-to-day work of leadership and management. You  might pick up a good book (I’ve set up a list of some of my favorite leadership books), listen to a podcast like Manager Tools, or even try to take a course at a local college; regardless, make a commitment to learn more about how to be an effective leader in your parish or diocese!
  2. Make Something… Too often in catechesis we look for a canned program instead of creating something that will meet the specific needs of our parishes and schools. This year, try creating something yourself! It doesn’t have to be grand. A short study guide, a reflection booklet, a prayer card; just flex your creativity for the glory of God!
  3. …And Share It With the World If you have something you’ve made that you’re particularly happy with, share it! Send copies to your diocesan office to distribute, put it online, or just email it to someone. Share your blessings with others so that the great work you do isn’t just confined to your local area. You might even consider releasing your creation under a Creative Commons license.
  4. Go to a Conference There are plenty of great catechetical conferences around the country that offer ongoing education and networking with other catechists. I’ll be speaking at the National Catholic Educational Association, the National Conference for Catechetical Leadership, and the Indiana Conference for Catechetical Leadership this year. If none of those work for your schedule, you might try the LA Religious Education Congress, the St. John Bosco Conference in Steubenville, or the Mid-Atlantic Congress.
  5. Pray For Success Above all else, commit yourself to praying more for the success of your ministry. As I’ve mentioned before, our diocesan offices have been praying the Rosary weekly with a special intention for an increase in faith and discipleship in our parishes. Choose a special intention centered on your efforts and pray constantly for it!

What resolutions are you making regarding your ministry this year?

Recipe: New Year’s Ham and Black Eyed Pea Soup

I first tried this recipe last New Year’s, using the leftovers from our Christmas ham, and was  surprised  both by the flavor (the ham bone gave the broth a subtle sweetness) and the children’s reactions (very positive). Here’s to a blessed and happy New Year!


  • 1lb dry black eyed peas
  • 8 cups of water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 ham bone
  • 4 carrots, sliced
  • ½ head of red cabbage, cut into chunks
  • ½ onion, finely diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp dry mustard
  • 2 cups ham, diced


  1. Rinse the black eyed peas and remove any discolored beans.
  2. Place the beans in a large stock pot with the water and salt; bring to a boil, cook for 2 minutes, then reduce heat to low. Add the ham bone and simmer, covered, for one hour.
  3. Remove the ham bone and add the carrots, cabbage, onion, garlic, cumin, and mustard. Cook on low for another hour.
  4. Add the diced ham and cook for 30 minutes.
  5. Serve with warm bread.

Original photo by michelle@TNS/flickrCC

My Four Goals for 2012

I’m not typically one for New Year’s resolutions, but there is something about a fresh calendar that predisposes one to changing habits for the coming solar cycle. I’m not sure if it’s cultural (do the Chinese make resolutions for Chinese New Year?) or psychological, but there it is.

That having been said, here, in no particular order, are my goals for 2012:

  1. Continue to refine this blog.  I have a number of items on my “to-do” list regarding my blog. My unstated goal has been to post one substantial piece a week, with breaks during the Easter and Christmas octaves. I haven’t been as  consistent  in that as I would have hoped; still, I’d like to bump it up to two pieces a week. I’ve actually pre-written quite a few posts over the Christmas holiday to get me ahead of the curve. Hopefully I can keep it up! I’d also like to get serious about the non-content end of the blog, especially paying attention to metrics and making better use of my various social media presences. If you have any resources to share, I would appreciate it!
  2. Lose 25 pounds in time for the 2012 NCCL conference in May. This is pure vanity; I’ll be giving one of the TED-style keynotes, and want to look my best.
  3. Grow in my understanding of liturgical catechesis. Liturgy has always been my theological weak spot (my only coursework in liturgy was a single undergrad class my junior year of college), but the lead-up to the recent implementation of the Roman Missal, Third Edition  has whet my whistle for more. This year I want to do some additional reading and study on how the liturgy catechizes and how we catechize for liturgy.
  4. Complete and launch the [secret awesome project]. I’ve got a secret project in the works that will be of interest to all Catholic bloggers; check back here on January 16 for details!

Do you have any goals for the coming year?

Photo by Gordana AM/flickrCC

Happy New Year – Catholic School Style!

It’s the New Year, which means it’s time for resolutions! Of course, if you are like me, you can recycle the same resolutions from last year. (I’m still trying to lose those 15 pounds!) But resolutions don’t just have to be for yourself “ the New Year is the perfect time to resolve to do something different or try something new on behalf of your Catholic school!

Here are five possible New Year’s resolutions you might try implementing:

  1. Increase your volunteer base. Find five parents who have never volunteered before and personally invite them to help with an event.
  2. Create a Facebook page for your school. (Or better yet, get one of those five parents to do it!) Then use it to reach out to alumni!
  3. Invite a representative from your diocesan vocations office — or your pastor! — to talk to your students about the priesthood.
  4. Secretaries are your front line of hospitality! Work with your secretary to better welcome prospective families when they make an inquiry.
  5. Publicly recognize a parent, volunteer, student, teacher, or staff member who has made an especially important contribution to your school. Let everyone know that you have incredible people at your school!

These are just a few suggestions; feel free to share your own in the comments! And if you try one of these, let us know how it goes!