Before you Pause, Look Back and Look Forward
The catechetical year is winding down. You’ve made it through whirlwind months of working on Advent, Christmas, Lent, Easter, First Penance and Communion, Confirmation, and the Rite of Election and Easter Vigil. There is much to be grateful for, and you are ready to hit the pause button and relax. And you should. But first you might want to consider what you can do over the next few months when programs are not in session.
Personally I’d rather dive right into planning for next year and forget about cleaning up. But I’ve learned that’s not always the best decision. Instead I’ve divided the summer tasks into three sets: before classes end, taking care of the past, and planning for the future.
Before Classes End
If you can do these few things before everyone disperses for the summer, you will be ahead of the game and better able to prepare during the summer.
■■ Update your registration form and distribute it to families before classes are over for the year. This way you can encourage parents to register early. Sometimes a fee discount for registering early helps.
■■ Find out which catechists and other volunteers are returning and to what grade.
■■ Recruit help as needed for the programs which are your responsibility. Include office help and extra hands to help at class sessions.
Taking Care of the Past
This is an area where volunteers, especially youth seeking community service hours, can help. There are many housekeeping tasks that need to be done.
■■ Inventory and organize student books and teacher guides.
■■ Clean out and inventory school and craft supplies: Bibles, DVDs, copies of the Catechism. Check that equipment is working properly.
■■ If you have your own classroom space, clean all the tables, chairs, and boards.
■■ Empty closets and shelves, clean them, and then put materials back where they belong.
Besides housekeeping tasks, there are administrative tasks. Doing these early will help you in planning for the next year.
■■ Sit down with catechists and review the year.
■■ Determine if you need more help for the next year.
■■ Make sure all sacraments received are recorded.
■■ File registration forms and attendance records as required by your diocese.
■■ Move each class a year up in your database.
Once you’ve done these tasks, give your own desk, bulletin board, and files some attention before you go away for some rest and recharging. Even if you can’t go away on vacation, take some time off and allow yourself some mental and physical space from work. If you can, go on a retreat. If that’s not possible, find a nearby adoration chapel and be still. Time with Jesus does wonders for our souls and helps us focus on what is important.
Preparing for the Future
Each year we get to begin again, taking what works and making it better. Examine what didn’t go as planned. Does the activity no longer work for the parish, or can it be adjusted so it does? Use this time to think of a few new ideas to implement, and add them to the calendar. It’s important that changes serve the needs of the parish community.
■■ Plan next year’s schedule. Be sure to gather Church, parish, and school calendars that impact your schedule. Include on one calendar all events for which you are responsible. This will help you avoid overscheduling and double-booking yourself.
■■ Review the schedule with your pastor or supervisor, and agree on
sacrament dates. Distribute the final schedule to clergy and staff.
■■ Reserve space in the parish and/or school as needed for your programs and classes. Don’t forget to include retreats, parent meetings, catechist gatherings, and the reception of sacraments.
■■ Write and schedule bulletin and website announcements for all programs.
■■ Plan lesson schedules for each grade level.
■■ Order general supplies based on what the lists generated when you cleaned up.
■■ If you lead a Bible study, decide on the study, read it, and do a few lessons so you are ahead when the group begins.
■■ Train catechists and have planning meetings.
Working on these tasks ahead of time will give you time to better take care of the people who come to you once programs start up again.
DEANNA BARTALINI, M.Ed and MPA, is a director of faith formation in the Diocese of Palm Beach, Florida. She is a writer and speaker. Visit DeannaBartalini.com.
This article was originally published in Catechist magazine, April-May, 2018.