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). Baby-step your way through the concepts you teach, one at a time. The Catechism of the Catholic Church, the Bible, and the teen-oriented YouCat (Youth Catechism) are helpful tools. Visit this page for a resource list.
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. Ask students to memorize John 3:16 with hand movements and a catchy beat.
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, like washing dishes, and perform it in a spirit of loving sacrifice offered for your students.
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 someday in heaven.
Try not to give in to frustration if there are few signs that your work is bearing fruit. God is faithful.
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.
Lisa Mladinich is the founder of AmazingCatechists.com and the author of Heads Bowed: Prayers for Catholic School Days (Liguori Publications).
This article was originally published in RTJ/Creative Catechist, September 2014.
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