My wife decided to reply to my post Are You Being Called?, and I thought it was worth its own post. So, here’s the perspective from my (much) better half.
Since Tom kind of called me out in his post, I decided to chime in too. I remember sitting in Mass that morning 10 years ago. We were relatively new to this parish (having moved from our geographic parish for a number of reasons). Our son was just starting 1st grade, so we didn’t know anything about the RF program (they call it Religious Formation) or that the little Italian sister was new to the parish and revamping the whole program.
But I did know that she spoke at the end of Mass and said that they were desperately in need of catechists. I felt as though I had no good reason not to help. I hadn’t taught, but I’d been an assistant to my mom for a number of years when she taught First Communion classes at my childhood parish.
So that night, I was there to get my introduction to teaching 1st grade. The next year, I moved to second grade and mid-year took over coordinating the First Penance/First Communion prep programs and have been doing that every year.
For those just considering a call (either from the Holy Spirit, or that insistent tap on the shoulder from your pastor or DRE), know this: almost all of the catechetical programs out there have good catechist materials — you can read ahead, get tips on teaching the lesson, have activities to make it fun, etc. You don’t have to know it all or be a theologian to teach children. You need to have faith and commit to the time to prepare and teach. Find a helpful experienced catechist or DRE or priest or deacon to ask questions of.
Asserting your authority (no matter how gently) from the start makes a big difference. If you convey that you expect respect and that the children will behave properly, you’re off to a good start.
From my personal experience, sometimes kids are really open to the faith and learning about prayer, and you may be one of their only personal contacts of someone who loves the faith! Encourage them, wherever they are (and whatever level of faith support they get at home, or don’t).
Since Tom is sharing, I’ll share something I’ve told very few people (until now). I had a call of my own several years into teaching and coordinating sacraments.
About 4 years ago. I was ready to pack in it. I was tired and worn out. It’s a lot of work to do the logistics and deal with many parent and administrative issues involved with sacrament preparation and liturgies (a lot more work than teaching the children!). I was going to stop at the end of that year and ask someone else to step up. I was praying before the Blessed Sacrament after the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday. I heard a voice — not with my ears, I just heard it. “Bring them to my table.” I still tear up thinking about it. I’ve never had that direct a literal call before then, nor since. But since then I’ve been able to go on teaching and coordinating with more peace than before, helping to prepare several hundred more children to receive the Eucharist.
As my pastor said to me once, “It’s not for me, or Sister, or the parents, or the children, you’re doing this work for the Lord.” What else is there to say?
If you’re being called, don’t hold back. Take the leap. Or at least find out what your parish does and what is needed.
It’s for the Lord.