A few weeks ago, I was talking to a man who just started teaching in his parish religious education program. He told me that nothing in his life (including being a dad himself) had prepared him for the ordeal of facing a room full of third-graders. “I was terrified,” he said.
Catechizing youngsters has always been a daunting task but today more than ever, a catechist has to bring a veritable teacher’s tool kit, filled with age-appropriate faith formation, pedagogical know-how and plenty of psychology to the program. Knowledge of technology also is becoming a “must.”
It’s not about getting the children’s attention but rather keeping it. Today, even the youngest children are more adept with technology than most adults and are far more easily distracted than children 10 years ago. For a variety of reasons, many of them beyond their control, parents are not always able to reinforce at home what the children are learning about the faith. More and more, a catechist has to act as the primary catechist of a child when this is really a parent’s responsibility.
But how in the world can a catechist keep up with the rapidly changing learning environment of a parish program? Well, this is why the Catechetical Office will offer its annual Catechetical Forums on Oct. 5 at Sacred Heart Parish in Monroe and on Oct. 19 at Cardinal Spellman High School in the Bronx. Both keynoters, Joe Paprocki (English language) from Chicago and Marta McGlade (Spanish) from the Atlanta archdiocese are national consultants, well known in the catechetical ministry. But – and this is even more important – they are active catechists in their parishes. They know exactly what today’s catechist confronts.
In addition to the keynoters, there will be dozens of helpful workshops offering enrichment for religious educators themselves, along with the kind of hands-on, practical advice that only trained experts and veterans of the catechetical ministry can provide.
So, if you are a catechist, or you are thinking of becoming one, don’t miss the Catechetical Forums. Visit www.nyfaithformation.org to check more on the keynoters and the workshop topics. See you there.