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August 12, 2009
 
Finding Your Passion
 
 
Faith Formation Update continues to offer free monthly encouragement and direction for catechetical ministry within the classroom and beyond. 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 Angela Glassmeyer suggests other faith formation resources for adults in her column, “Sowing Sampler.”

What do you get excited about? This issue of Faith Formation Update has the sole purpose of lighting your catechetical fire. It is time to return to the good work of teaching as Jesus did. Are you ready?
—Jeanne Hunt
 
     
 
 
Fire!
 
 
Prophets of old talk about a fire in the belly. Good preachers talk about that same fire. It is an invisible urge to proclaim God’s word, teach God’s message and build the kingdom that cannot be denied. The passion to be a good catechist is a pure gift of the Holy Spirit. When we walk into the classroom, every student should know that we are excited about the gospel and the Church. We are there to pour out the excitement we know, an excitement that is contagious. In the words of an old Evangelical hymn, “We’re under the spout where the glory comes out!” The summer is ending and we now come back to the ministry of our gift. To teach Jesus and his gospel takes passion. As you prepare lesson plans, keep in mind the energy, the fire, the passion behind your plans. That is the place where catechesis begins.
 
     
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Tools of the Trade
 
 
Passion and knowledge are good dancing partners in the catechetical realm. While I urge you to get excited about the faith for your student’s benefit, it is even more powerful to fill their minds after you have filled their hearts. Sometimes when I read the explanations in the catechism or an exegesis of the Sunday Gospel, it brings the message to such relevance because the texts are supported by my belief. Our job, as catechist, is to help others make that connection.
In your arsenal of resources, there are three essentials you must not leave home without. First, as a good reference to the Sunday Gospels, I recommend Bringing Home the Word, a wonderful online edition of a lectionary resource that is very affordable. Second, a copy of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. The third element should be something that keeps your own fire burning, deepens your faith and is a part of your daily spiritual discipline. After all, “you cannot give what you do not have,” as St. Augustine reminds us. I suggest the work of two Franciscan friars: Things Hidden: Scripture as Spirituality, by Father Richard Rohr and Landscape of Prayer, by Father Murray Bodo.
 
     
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DVD for Catechist Training
 
 
Ahhh…August! It’s the time when those who direct school-year catechetical programs are scrambling for catechists, dealing with late registrations and making sure that textbooks and supplies are ready. So where does formation of those new catechists fit in?
We may wonder how we can ask more of catechists who are already giving so much. Yet formation is essential; it increases both confidence and competence in sharing the good news. It indicates to catechists—and to the parish at large—that their role is important enough to require training and that they’re committed to doing their important task well.
With shrinking diocesan and parish staffs, the challenge of forming catechists increases for the parish catechetical leader. Catechists are busy people, as are we all these days, and need opportunities for formation that they can fit into their lives. Many are making use of online courses, such as those offered through the University of Dayton’s Virtual Learning Community for Faith Formation.
Others may turn to a classic video series by Gaynell Cronin, one of the most respected pioneers in catechetics, to assist in this effort. In groups at the parish or at home alone, catechists have much to learn from Gaynell’s timeless wisdom. Catechist Training is a collection of seven practical, inspiring and faith-infused training sessions. I’ve selected a short clip from the session “Discovering Faith” to share with you (RealMedia | Windows Media). Work these training sessions into your own catechist-formation efforts or simply send the DVDs home with catechists to view on their own. Either way, you’ll be supporting their formation as catechists and as adult persons of faith.
May you enjoy God’s guidance as you work to recruit, form and support your volunteer catechists!
 
     
Franciscan Radio
 
Keep the Fire Burning
 
 
If we are talking about passion, fire and excitement this month, one thing keeps coming to mind: the source of all this fire is found in the Eucharist. Good catechist, good Catholics have the greatest secret ammunition on earth: we have the Eucharist, the source and summit of our faith. As we head back to spreading the faith we need to keep the fire burning. Mike Aquilina’s new book, Fire of God’s Love: 120 Reflections on the Eucharist is just what the doctor (the divine doctor, that is) ordered. The back of the book has a quote from J.R.R. Tolkien: “The only cure for sagging or fainting faith is communion.” This book offers the inspiration and encouragement to inspire a love for the Eucharist. Whether we are dealing with depression, recession or just plain old weariness, these pages can relight your fire. What an awesome God we have! What an awesome sacrament he gives us in the Eucharist. Allow the words of those who have gone before us light the holy fire within. Also keep in mind Father Robert Barron's new audiobook, Eucharist, a fresh look at the Eucharist which brings to light the spiritual meaning of meal, sacrifice, and real presence in our lives.
 
     
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