Being a catechist can be demanding work. It’s important for you as a catechist to maintain a high level of enthusiasm for your ministry. Over the years many wise catechists and teachers have developed strategies for staying refreshed, engaged, and enthusiastic about the work they do. Here are some suggestions for you to consider.
1. Don’t be a “lone ranger.” Connect in meaningful ways with other people involved in catechetical service. Talk to your peers and colleagues about how they remain enthused. Consider partnering with another catechist to share ideas or techniques for praying with children, making presentations, conducting group discussions, or planning engaging activities. You might also work with another catechist to plan sessions together.
2. Develop personal goals for the year. Set goals tied to your deepest values—values such as showing more patience with and compassion for difficult children.
3. Keep up practices that refresh you. Different practices appeal to different people. Some practices you might try to include are establishing times of silence and solitude times of laughter and fun, connecting with people who inspire you, reading inspirational books, taking walks, and keeping a good balance between work and play in your life.
4. Count your successes. Don’t minimize the good you are achieving by being a significant adult in the life of these young people. Reflect on the good moments you’re experiencing as a catechist. Think about the many ways you invite children to be open to the grace of God.
5. Forgive your lapses. Nobody’s perfect. Some days will go better than others. Even on the worst days you can never be sure whose life you touched in a meaningful way. God works through our weaknesses as well as through our strengths. Ask God to help you learn and grow from these experiences.
6. Make “Good News” calls. Telephone or write short “Good News” notes to parents, who are the first teachers of their child, to tell them something good that you witnessed during your time with their child. Sharing the fruits of your work with their child will help remind you that you are partnering with them.
7. Keep the big picture in mind. Remind yourself to be patient with the children and to remember that you are inviting them to gradually adapt to a way of life that can be challenging.
8. Shake things up. Do something different to break up the routine of your sessions. Talk to your catechetical leader about bringing in music related to your topic, showing a video or DVD that has something to say on the themes you are covering, or arranging for a guest speaker to come in to share an experience of faith.
9. Deal with difficult issues as they come up. If you put off troublesome issues that arise during the course of the year, they may eventually sap your energy and enthusiasm. Be proactive. Adopt a professional attitude, keep focused on principles rather than on personalities, keep the welfare of the children in mind, and confront problems and issues forthrightly and clearly.
10. Participate in continuing education. Take advantage of courses, workshops, and seminars available through your parish or diocese. There’s nothing like a new set of ideas to revitalize your approach to religious education and formation.
11. Pray for guidance. You are a catechist for a reason. God will not abandon you. Ask for the wisdom and strength you need to excel and to be renewed. Pay attention to the ways God is leading you in this work as you nurture the faith of others.
12. Watch for the signs of waning enthusiasm. If you find yourself increasingly irritable, lacking in patience with and understanding of the children or their parents, bored with material that used to engage you, or reluctant to plan sessions or to consider creative options, try incorporating one or more of the above suggestions.