The joys and struggles of being a catechist are very similar to the joys and struggles of being a teacher, and therefore, I deduce that there are certain things catechists, like teachers, will not miss this summer. Here is a compilation of moments, events, and situations every catechist is happy to leave behind once CCE classes are done for the year. (Side note: we do appreciate the hard work that both parents and children put into their religious education, however, there are some bad apples that spoil the bunch for us. Below you will see some of the effects those apples have on us as ministers.)
1. “But… is it mandatory?”
Is anything in life MANDATORY? Okay, yes, a few things. But the point of your religious education is not to complete a checklist of what is MANDATORY, rather to deepen your faith and strengthen your relationship with Christ and others through Christ. So if you consider this an important component of that goal (and obviously WE consider it an important component of that goal) then yes, yes it is mandatory.
2. Something that could have been answered online
Being approached while sitting in the car, while at the grocery store, while shopping at Target, while at the park, while working on a different project, and especially while praying after communion at mass on Sunday to answer a question regarding catechesis or sacrament prep that could have been done over email or by a simple phone call during normal business hours. …Or could have been answered by looking at the church website.
3. The misconception that religious education ends after First Communion or Confirmation
Here’s the big secret – it’s lifelong! You should never stop learning about your faith and no human being will ever know everything there is to know about it. That’s why we call it “faith.”
4. The misconception that the catechist is entirely responsible for the religious prowess of those they are teaching
…without any help from the parents. Parents are the first catechists! We rely on you to instill a love of the Lord in your children from an early age, to encourage them to explore what the Church has to offer, and to reinforce the good behaviors and Catholic practices we teach in our classes.
5. “Sorry, my child won’t make it to Confirmation class this week because of [insert extracurricular activity/sporting event here].”
Ah yes, of course that soccer tournament should take precedent over your child’s knowledge and understanding of his faith. Please indoctrinate him to believe there is anything more important than God. It definitely doesn’t make our job any more challenging.
6. Planning the lesson, only to have the entire plan changed
We respect and appreciate the role our directors play in the religious education process but we could also use some kind of warning when they’re planning something different from the usual class. Part of teaching religious education is learning to roll with these punches, and we are certainly on our way to mastering that skill.
7. “Does all school mass on Friday count for Sunday? If my child goes to a Catholic school, does she still have to go to sacrament prep? Does babysitting count toward my service hour requirement?”
Any kind of this-for-that swapping question is annoying. We have outlined the rules and requirements for nearly every conceivable situation and have verbally explained these at a number of meetings. Plus the mentality of religious education as another box to check on a never ending To-Do list reduces the beauty of our faith to some sort of pesky obligation. Is that really the attitude what we want to be teaching our children?
8. “Oh you’re early for your class?? Can you help with [other parish activity]? It will only take a few minutes!”
We arrive early for our classes to ensure we are properly prepared to do what we need to do that lesson. When we are volun-told to help with something else, it takes away from what we should be giving to our students. That is not to say we don’t want to participate in other parish activities – of course we do! Just not when we are about to step into a room full of second graders in an attempt to teach them about the significance of transubstantiation.
9. Smart answers from kids
Kids who cop an attitude about having to be in religious education are never fun to deal with. Their sass gets the whole group going and before we know it, the entire lesson has been sucked away in a downward spiral.
10. Getting nothing from those we are attempting to teach
When we get crickets from our students, it is disheartening. We have passion and love for what we are sharing with these kids, which is exactly why we got involved in this way. It is such a shame when our students don’t seem to see the value in what we are passing on. Students who don’t engage or ask questions and then claim that their instructor didn’t interact well are even worse.
[all images form catholicmemes.com and teachermemes.com]