by The staff of Catechist
Editor’s Note: Catechist magazine is proud to recognize the outstanding work of exceptional catechists. In this section we highlight the lives and inspirational stories of real catechists who are “in the field” enlivening the faith in the hearts of the next generation of Catholics. To nominate a dedicated catechist from your parish, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bernadette Ek: Catechist at St. Catherine of Sweden Roman Catholic Church in Allison Park, PA
Your Work: Bernadette Ek is an amazing catechist and has been teaching for more than 20 years. She is a joyful woman of God. Bernadette takes each lesson and brings it to life. Her students always say, “I wish she could be my teacher every year.” She encourages the students to participate in the liturgy and brings creativity to each lesson with skits, Bible studies, and crafts. As catechists we pray we are doing good things with our call to “echo” Jesus, and Bernadette does just that in her teaching of the faith.
Nominated by: Audra Brown, St. Catherine of Sweden Roman Catholic Church, Allison Park, PA
What grade do you teach? I have taught various grade levels, but this year I will be teaching eighth grade.
What’s the best spiritual book you’ve read? Traits of a Healthy Spirituality by Melannie Svoboda, SND. The book demonstrates simplistic and practical ways of incorporating faith into everyday life.
Besides attending Sunday Mass, what other spiritual practices are helpful to you? Attending educational programs, Bible studies, and volunteering at St. Catherine of Sweden. Two of the most recent programs were “Symbolon” and a Bible study covering the book Walking Toward Eternity: Making Choices for Today by Jeff and Emily Cavins. Both programs were very beneficial.
Who is your favorite saint and what can all of us learn from that saint? The Blessed Mother. She teaches us unconditional love.
Who has been the biggest influence on your faith life? My parents and grandparents. They were exceptional role models.
What’s the most challenging topic you’ve taught and how did you teach it? The biggest challenge was teaching the children how to integrate their faith into their everyday lives. Sometimes they struggled to find a connection between the two. I would give them life situations to discuss. During our discussion I’d have them explain how their decisions were influenced by their faith.
Share an effective teaching moment. I have experienced some of my most effective teaching moments when the students are engaged in the active participation of the course work. They have fun, with a purpose, and learn on a more personal level, through games, meditations, service projects, and group discussions. A good example of this was when each student was given the responsibility to be the teacher for a portion of the class. As the instructor, they had a firsthand opportunity to explain their faith to the rest of the class. Through this exercise the students received a deeper understanding of the subject and took personal ownership of their faith. Another example of effective teaching was when we made blankets, by hand, for cancer patients at a local hospital. The students were able to have fun making the blankets while also gaining an appreciation of how we, as Christians, share our faith by helping our community.
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This article was written by the Catechist Staff and appeared in Catechist magazine, March 2015.
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