Last year around this time, I was listening to Paul Fahey talk after mass about an opening for an elementary school catechist. I had never really thought about becoming one, but it didn’t take long before I started thinking that would be something I would really enjoy doing. I like teaching my own children and most of them were now at school so I had some more time available in my day. In the past, I had taught speech and language skills in a public elementary school and had always wanted to bring God into discussions with my students. I’m a fan of teaching and of God so I thought the two would be a great combination!
This past school year I taught some amazing, loving, inquisitive third grade students who helped me grow in my own faith because of their many thought-provoking insights and questions. When I didn’t know the answer to their question I would go home do some research and report back. I also had them do the same because I tried to stress to them that growing in faith is NEVER ending. It was exciting to see how the students grew throughout the year learning about how to make praying a personal experience, listening and telling bible stories from the Old Testament, reading and memorizing bible verses from the New Testament, acting out parables, reciting Catholic prayers, memorizing and applying the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy in and outside of our classroom.
There were a couple weeks during the school year that my children were sick and so I would need to cancel religion and stay home with them. After a couple missed religion classes I could tell the students didn’t appreciate missing religion. One student asked me where I had been and I explained the situation. Another student said when he’s sick his parent’s take turns staying home with him so that neither his Mom nor his Dad missed too much work. The same child suggested that “your husband should stay home with your sick kids because you have an important job teaching us.” This experience and many others throughout the year melted my heart and let me know that religion class was having a positive impact on the students and myself.
Many times, when I have felt God calling me to serve I realize that I am the one that grows closer to God in the process. Setting time aside to plan lessons, teach, and interact with the students helped me to better focus on God’s role in my own life. Being a Catechist, this past year was a great experience for me and I hope last year’s third-grade students would say the same.