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August 7, 2008
Faith Formation Update is a free monthly e-newsletter for catechetical leaders with a focus on parish catechesis beyond textbooks and classrooms. I'm Jeanne Hunt. In each issue, I offer a brief starter and my “Every Family” column. My co-worker and fellow religious educator Joan McKamey offers media resources and ideas in her “Seen and Heard” column. Our co-worker Chuck Blankenship suggests other faith- formation resources for adults from St. Anthony Messenger Press in his column, “Sowing Sampler.” Finally, we encourage YOU to share views and program ideas about this month's topic on our online bulletin board, “Faith Formation Forum.” It hardly seems possible: School and church bells are ringing us back into the classroom. Catechists begin to revisit old lesson plans for new ideas in these August days. Join us as we offer a little fuel for your catechetical fire!
—Jeanne Hunt
P.S. You're receiving this either because you signed up, or because you're a loyal customer of St. Anthony Messenger Press. We will never send you unwanted e-mail. There is an unsubscribe link at the bottom of this page.
Tool Time—Resources for the Catechist
Every good handyman and every good cook will tell us that having the right tools is essential. A simple job is made far more difficult without the tool designed to do the job correctly. Catechesis is no exception. We need to spend some time creating a catechetical toolbox, a collection of resources and materials that will be at our fingertips once the demands of sharing and teaching our Catholic faith take hold. Classrooms and homes need a bookshelf with a good, age-appropriate Bible, a catechism, some resources on the lives of saints, copies of current Catholic magazines (such as St Anthony Messenger) and the diocesan newspaper. Another item in this toolbox is a list of good Web sites where children can find answers to faith questions, and parents and teachers can find inspiration for those tough issues of faith. Finally, we need to add a resource for the liturgical year and the lectionary. Sharing the Sunday gospels and living out the liturgical seasons bring our faith to life.
Ask and the Door Shall be Opened
Learning the grace of fielding questions of faith is a primary skill for the catechist. You can plan the best lesson possible, but if you have not reinforced it with your own knowledge of the subject you will fail.
So many catechists feel inadequate to the task. How can I teach dogma correctly? How can I interpret the meaning of scripture or an ecclesial document? Too many willing volunteers never teach because these questions threaten their good intentions.
I offer three easy solutions to this dilemma. First, prepare each lesson well in advance, allowing time to seek other resources other than the teacher’s manual. Seek information on the lesson that underpins what the text offers. A great tactic is to prepare your own list of questions and find the answers in periodicals and books. Second, we must be willing to say, “I don’t know the answer to that question, let’s find out together.” Students respect that response. By finding answers together we are teaching the students a valuable skill. Finally, let the questions provoke curiosity and fun. Mark Hart’s book Ask the Bible Geek and Ask the Bible Geek 2 from Servant Books are wonderful tools in the classroom. Each question comes from a young person. Mark Hart has an uncanny ability to explain difficult topics with wit and wisdom. Whether you use Hart’s questions or come up with a few of your own, each lesson should have some fun-filled questions that let the students learn how to delve into the mysteries of faith with confidence and curiosity.
Media Resources for Catechists
Have you been looking for reliable information about Catholic beliefs and practices on the Web? Not every site that claims it’s “Catholic” is equal nor necessarily faithful to the Catholic Church and its teachings. Do you desire easy access to answers to some of your own, your catechists’ or students’ questions? Are you looking for a way to incorporate more technology into your class sessions or catechist formation efforts? Do you realize that the Web site for St. Anthony Messenger Press ( is much, much more than an online catalog of our products?
Information on saints, back issues of newsletters, answers to questions about the Catholic faith and its practice, articles from St. Anthony Messenger magazine, Catholic news, reflections on the Sunday readings, movie reviews, electronic greeting cards and radio programs are some of the many treasures to be found at How to use this resource? Here are some ideas:
• Start your day or class session with “Saint of the Day” or “Minute Meditation.”
• Prepare for the upcoming Sunday liturgy with “Sunday Supplements” and “Sunday Soundbites” (especially helpful for RCIA preparation).
• Listen to an episode of American Catholic Radio on your MP3 player or at your computer at work or home.
• Send Catholic e-greetings to family, friends and members of the parish.
• Research a presentation topic by doing a “Search for Articles.”
• Find new resources to share in your parish, give as gifts and use for personal enrichment by doing a “Search for Products.”
Just as you trust our products, you can trust the content on our Web site. If you haven’t already discovered all that we offer, take some time to explore Share this address with your parish staff, catechists and the rest of the parish. Dig in! You’re bound to be amazed at the bounty available to you!

Cost-effective Faith-formation Solutions
Working in faith formation in a parish setting is always a challenge, but never more so than when it comes to trying to decide how to allocate precious funds for print resources. How often do you find yourself wanting to give printed materials to program participants, families or catechists, and realize that the cost is prohibitive? Here are a few suggestions to meet this challenge.
For more than a generation, Catholic Update, published monthly, has provided up-to-date and readable information about the Church and our faith for adult believers. For only pennies a copy, you can put dependable, readable information about the faith into the hands of all your parishioners. See the latest issue at
The St. Anthony Messenger Press full-color monthly newsletter, Every Day Catholic, offers you a varied presentation of Catholic faith information along with articles that focus on finding faith messages in movies, daily life and in the lives and examples of other believers. This publication is great as a newsletter for the family, for small Christian communities or for general distribution to the parish. Find the latest issue on our Web site at
And if you’re looking for an affordable resource to help you break open the scriptures from week to week in a variety of parish settings, you might look at Bringing Home the Word. This inexpensive weekly resource is made available to you digitally (PDF files are posted each month on our Web site), and your subscription fee purchases for you a license to make as many copies as you need to distribute within your parish. Whether you need six or 600 copies, you can print as many as you need and as often as you need. An annual license is only $104.
As always, St. Anthony Messenger Press tries to bring you the best in faith-formation materials in the most cost-effective way. So even when budgets are strained, you can provide plenty of quality faith-formation materials for your parishioners.
Study guides from St. Anthony Messenger magazine
Preview full text of the latest issue and past issues!
List  your parish "Come Home" program in the "Help Room" at
Faith Formation Forum

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