The Goodness of Our Ministry
by Mary McEntee McGill
Beginning a new school year can be difficult for teachers as well as students.
Beginning a new school year can be difficult for teachers as well as students. A student once told me that he was sure he’d learned enough! Anything else, he said, he could find in the computer.
At the same time, learning can be fun. There can be a lure in learning and, as catechists, our task is to create that lure.
As you begin to prepare for your classes, I thought we could pray about what we might do to lure our students into truly wanting to understand what we will teach.
If you read my columns you know that I like the saints. I have always felt that they are a true gift. I love those holy saints recognized and praised by the Church, and I love the Communion of Saints, which include those men, women, and children who have gone before us and who revealed to us God’s presence and love. I’d like to talk about one of these “saints” now.
Commentary: His name was Bob. He taught in our parish religion program in California many years ago. Bob was a good man, a strong father, a member of the Knights of Columbus, and—this is important—a car salesman!
Bob sold me my first car. It was an old gray Rambler and, with Bob’s help, I could afford it. I drove it for four years and sold it to my brother Terry who drove it for a couple years and sold it to his wife’s sister who later gave it to her cousin. We don’t know where it went after that.
Bob had a significant gift: He knew how to sell. He knew how to understand his customer and how to find the right auto at that person’s affordable price. He worked to make the car and the deal honest and clear.
I was thinking that you could use the skills of “saint Bob” as you introduce your new textbooks and outline the year to your classes. Consider a salesman’s gifts as you prepare to “sell” this year’s program to your students. Let’s consider how your first class might go, and let’s share our thoughts after each part.
Introduction: Introduce yourself. Be positive about how you introduce yourself and the gifts you plan to bring to the group. How will you “sell” yourself? Is there an example or a saint that can help? (Invite the group to share.)
Welcome: Be positive as you welcome your students. Learn their names and something about each of them. How will you remember their names and talents through the year? (Share)
Sell your textbook: “Saint Bob” has always helped me with this. To “sell” my product, I hold up my books and tell my students “We have a terrific book this year!! It teaches us about our Sacraments and how we celebrate them. There are great Bible stories, prayers you’ll love, and fun activities!” How will you “sell” yours? (Share)
Present the guarantee: Students need to know what they will achieve in the coming year. Are there Sacraments they will receive? Will they participate in special events or activities? Kids as well as adults need to know what they can expect. (Share)
Present the contract: Early in the first session, present your expectations. What do you expect from the students and what can they expect from you? (Share)
Pray: One of the things “saint Bob” suggested when I bought my car was to take it to church and have Father bless it. I have done that with all my cars since then. This is a time to bless your students and to ask our Lord and all the saints to be with them to keep them healthy and enthusiastic as they learn about God’s love for them. Do you have a special prayer you would like to use? Do you want to choose a patron saint for your class? (Share)
Closing: O God, the fullness of blessing comes from you and returns to you. In your kindness, hear us, your servants. Let us be strong co-workers in your vineyard. Let us be good teachers, sharing your Good News with our students. Fill us with your truth. Keep us in your peace. In our anger, calm us. In our error, correct us. In our right, defend us. In our need, provide for us. In division, unite us. Together we ask this of you, Our God.
May God bless you. Have a great year.
Mary is the Pastoral Associate for Religious Education and Liturgical Education for Holy Trinity Parish in Dallas, TX. She is the author of Stories to Invite Faith Sharing (Resource Publications).
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