The top 10 things that every catechist needs to know

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by Lisa Mladinich


  1. Prayer and study are essential. As we grow in knowledge and love of God, we become radiant witnesses to his saving power. Pope Paul VI wrote, “Modern man listens more willingly to witnesses than to teachers, and if he does listen to teachers, it is because they are witnesses” (Evangelii Nuntiandi 41). Baby-step your way through the concepts you teach, one at a time. The Catechism of the Catholic Church and the Bible can be accessed free online (see resources list), and the teen-oriented YOUCAT is available from Ignatius Press.
  2.  Kerygma (teaching) is at the center of our faith. The basics of salvation history—God’s love for us, the incarnation, the life, passion, and death of Christ, the resurrection—should be proclaimed often and woven into our lessons. Have elementary students memorize John 3:16 with hand movements and a catchy beat (search “Joyful John 3:16 Rap” on YouTube).
  3. The liturgical year is a treasure map. When God entered into time through the incarnation, he sanctified it, making our every moment, hour, and day holy. By recalling the seasons, feasts, and memorials of the liturgical year, the Church offers us entry into a living story of salvation.
  4. God is made known in relationships. Keep in mind that people often remember how you made them feel more than what you taught, so love them joyfully.
  5. You can communicate effectively with children at any age. A half hour of online research, once a year, will arm you with a basic understanding of the developmental strengths and challenges of each grade level, giving you a road map to specific sensitivities and areas of enthusiasm.
  6. Learning styles matter. Some of us learn best by seeing, others by hearing, and still others through physical activity. Lesson plans that incorporate all three styles make learning accessible to every child in your class, and they are the key to unlocking your best teaching style, too!
  7. Small sacrifices are powerful. Select a simple task you do often, like washing dishes, and perform it in a spirit of loving sacrifice offered for the intentions of your students and their families. God blesses these sweet acts of love with great generosity.
  8. Parents are your mission field, too. You are the face of the Church to many parents and caregivers, simply because they don’t feel connected to the parish community. Stay in touch, offer support where you can, and smile!
  9. You will see the results of your efforts some day in heaven. Try not to give in to frustration if there are few signs that your work is bearing fruit. What you sow, God is faithful to water.
  10. It’s all part of God’s plan to save your soul. The catechist receives a “call within a call” to go deeper into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. What we teach is important, but what we learn and how we live is even more important.


Resources for catechists:

Liturgical year: Free apps: Laudate, Missio, iBreviary. Also:,, and

Children ages five to 10:; click on “Health and Development” in the far left column and then scroll down to “Development, Age-by-Age.”


Learning styles:

Catechism of the Catholic Church (free and searchable): or


Lisa Mladinich is the author of the “Be an Amazing Catechist” series from Our Sunday Visitor. She is the owner of .


Copyright 2015, Bayard, Inc. All rights reserved. This article is protected by United States copyright and other intellectual property laws and may not be reproduced, rewritten, distributed, redisseminated, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast, directly or indirectly, in any medium without the prior written permission of Bayard, Inc.

This article was written by the Catechist Staff and appeared in Catechist magazine, July 2015.

Image Credit: MIA Studio/Shutter Stock 557176453

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