When I was in 8th grade, I helped teach for my parish’s religious education program and counted the hours toward my required community service time before receiving the Sacrament of Confirmation. I was an assistant for the 5th grade, and I thought it was the coolest thing. I could share with the class what I knew about the Church, even teaching them at one point how to pray the Rosary. Looking back, it seems like I was destined to teach in a Catholic school! After college, I began working at my current school in the Archdiocese of Washington (ADW), where I continue to teach and share my faith with the students. To this day, I continue to teach religion. I strive to form my students as disciples according to six elements of Catholic life: Knowledge of the Faith, Liturgy and Sacraments, Morality, Prayer, Education for Living in Christian Community, and Evangelization and Apostolic Life.
For catechists who actively pass on the Word of God to others, teaching the faith can become almost second nature. For instance, at my school, we incorporate core Jesuit principles into the curriculum each day and reflect on our own actions through prayer. In my pre-K classroom, we use these principles to talk about kindness and loving others as St. Ignatius taught. In a special way, my students are learning how to be good friends and love others the way Jesus did.
In the Archdiocese of Washington (ADW), the religious curriculum has standards by which its content is measured and assessed—like any other subject area in school. In fact, ADW is trying to support catechists to do more to collaborate and keep kids engaged and excited about learning their faith. Professional development of catechists is crucial to a school, parish, or community. Learning how to be better witnesses of the faith ensures that our children are receiving the best formation of conscience they can get.
Although there are people certified and educated to teach as catechists, most of us are already fulfilling that duty as faith-filled adults in the Church who witness to and spread the Gospel. Below is a list I have compiled of a description of a catechist. After reading it, do you feel called to become one?
- You know the Sign of the Cross.
- You enjoy growing in your faith toward a deepened relationship with Christ.
- You like to have fun and play games.
- You can recite the Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be prayers.
- You like working with kids of varying ages.
- You know and have experienced God’s love and want to share that love with others.
- You enjoy reading and learning about stories from the Bible and the saints.
- You strive to be an upstanding person and others like your company.
- You feel called by your Baptism to answer Jesus’ call to ministry.
- You like to teach others in real and meaningful ways.
For more information, we invite you to view the following webinar at the bottom of the page:
- "By Their Fruits You Will Know Them": Catechists and Evangelizers as Missionary Disciples co-presented by Center Director Fr. Frank Donio, S.A.C.
Question for Reflection: How can you teach the faith to others in your everyday life?
*This post was originally published in May 2017*