Catechists are the backbone of your religious education program. They look to you for inspiration, guidance, and support. The better the care you give them, the better the response they will make to the challenges of sharing their faith.
Here are some specific suggestions for tending to these very important partners in your religious education efforts.
1. If possible, make personal contact with the people you are inviting to serve as catechists.
2. Be clear about your expectations of catechists and the scope of their commitment.
3. Send a personal note of thanks to any person who agrees to serve as a catechist in the religious education program.
4. Offer training opportunities for the catechists both in the parish and through the diocese.
5. Have all materials ready for each catechist.
6. Respect a catechist’s schedule by starting meetings on time, having an agenda with substance, and ending meetings on time or ahead of time.
7. Respect and solicit the catechist’s ideas and suggestions.
8. Recognize the catechists in the parish bulletin or at an installation ceremony at Sunday Mass. Thank each catechist publicly.
9. Pray for the catechist, pray with all the catechists as a group, and share your faith with them.
10. Provide ways for catechists to serve as resources for one another. For example, experienced catechists could share successful techniques.
11. Share resources and new ideas that come your way.
12. Provide a mentor for—or be one to—new catechists.
13. Listen when a catechist comes to talk with you. Look him or her in the eye.
14. Provide special treats periodically. On a feast day bring snack food such as cookies, fruit, or cheese and crackers. Surprise the catechists with a little something such as stickers, markers, or colored chalk to help in their teaching.
15. Give each catechist feedback that celebrates his or her strengths and assists the catechist in dealing with any shortcomings. Offer an evaluation session halfway through the year to discuss “how it’s going so far.”
16. Send a thank-you note when you see a catechist doing something especially well.
17. Support a catechist when parents or others challenge him or her. Seek a win-win solution but never a solution that comes at the expense of the catechist. Later, talk with the catechist about how he or she handled the situation. Help the catechist learn from the experience.
18. Evaluate the year with each catechist and with the whole group. Be open to suggestions for improving the program.
19. Send a thank-you note and a small token of appreciation to each catechist when the year is over. Cite a specific contribution made by the catechist for which you are grateful.
20. Have the children taught by the catechist—and, if possible, their parents—sign a thank-you card for the catechist. Present it to the catechist at the end of the year.