It's That Time Again!
By Jo Rotunno, Publisher, RCL Benziger
A new catechetical year has just begun, and with it comes the usual challenges - many new students and their families, new catechists, and maybe even a new textbook series to introduce. And yet you love the ministry you have chosen, because you have the unique opportunity to assist young people and their families in their growth in faith.
You'll need three strong tools to help you make this your best year yet in the catechetical ministry:
- A great catechetical textbook series. Hopefully you already have that series in place, but if you are waiting to make a decision in the next year or two, be sure that the series you choose has these important features: It should be Christ-centered, inculcate in the children a strong commitment to Scripture, tradition, and social doctrine, offer them a variety of prayer opportunities, and give them ways to practice the habits of Christian living as members of a faith community.
A plan for deepening the formation and skills of your catechists. Begin the year by asking each catechist to make a commitment to his or her own formation and to make a concrete plan to act on these good intentions. One of the biggest constraints catechists reveal when asked to participate in catechist formation is that they have limited time. Echoes of Faith 3.0, the latest version of our longstanding project with the National Conference for Catechetical Leadership (NCCL), will help to remove this obstacle; it provides ways for your catechists to fit training and formation into their schedules at home and to proceed at their own individualized pace. Visit the Web site to learn more and subscribe today!
- A strategy for supporting families in new and effective ways. Some parents are your active partners, while others think their obligation is fulfilled when they drop the children at your door. Yet we know that individual faith is directly related to the experience children have at home. Even if you do not have time to consider programmatic solutions this year, make a commitment to offer opportunities for faith reflection for parents whenever you gather them for a meeting. Point out to them the family pages included in their children's textbooks, and the online resources that may accompany them.
But don't forget yourself! If you are not nurturing your own spiritual needs, your effectiveness will diminish. People probably say that you are a person of great endurance and drive - able to wear many hats without faltering. But at times, those accomplishments come at a tremendous cost: Our friendships, our families, and even our own spiritual growth can suffer.
Twenty-five years ago I attended a talk at a conference in Kentucky where Robert Wicks advised a group of catechists and coordinators that spending just two minutes a day in silence, solitude, and thanksgiving would transform their lives. You'd be surprised how hard that simple advice can be to follow in the middle of a frenetic day - but it works!
An Iowa catechist we interviewed many years ago for the original Echoes of Faith project shared that on a cold winter afternoon she would sometimes send her students home with a packet of hot chocolate and invite them to take a few minutes to sit by a window and reflect on God's love for them. Sometimes it's important to take the advice we offer the children and absorb it into our own lives.
I pray for God's blessing on your work as you begin another year. Don't hesitate to call upon us at RCL Benziger at any time. We'll try to address your practical needs as you continue to till the fields of the Lord and bring young people to faith.
Jo Rotunno serves as Publisher for RCL Benziger.