Being a Catechist at St. Francis

Jun 13, 2021 | Ministries

Preparing the Soil, Sowing the Seed, Watering and Fertilizing

Wait – am I writing about gardening or being a Religion Teacher? Both! This is the time of year when so
many of us take to our gardens. Working in our precious space, whether large or small, is a source of peace, pride, and a reminder of God’s hand in creation as we watch our flowers and vegetables grow in the sunshine and drink in the raindrops

I have been a catechist at St. Francis for 21 years and I know of others in our parish who have even longer tenures. That is a long time to be involved in a ministry. What keeps me, and others, coming back every year? It’s the voice of the Master Gardener, calling us to tend the land and get the seed planted. As we look forward to beginning a new Religious Ed year in September, there is a need for more catechists on all grade levels to meet our enrollment. And while keeping classes small is always beneficial, it is especially important now with health protocols in mind.

Classes are held from Monday – Thursday, afternoons and evenings depending on the grade. Each class is an hour. The Religious Ed office provides each catechist with a book, curriculum, and other necessary materials, and of course, steady support throughout the year. Beyond the one hour a week commitment, teachers need to prepare for each upcoming class: reading the week’s chapter and familiarizing themselves with the content and main ideas of the lesson. A teacher lays out their desired plan before he or she heads into the garden.

Each little garden – or classroom – has a field waiting to be planted. Teachers don’t have to be religious scholars. The prerequisite is a love of God and a desire to bring Him to others – to plant the garden for Him. I would say this to someone who may be intimidated by teaching the faith: if you love God and practice your faith both inside and outside of church, if you love children and want to help them and their families learn about being a Catholic and live in God’s light, you can do this! My years of teaching have made me a better Catholic.

They have taught me about my faith, about patience, prayer, and hope. I have often said that the time in
the classroom is a highlight of the week. Being with the kids is energizing. Teachers impact their students more than they will ever know. Our children hear too many voices that pull them away from their faith. God’s voice needs to be the most important one they hear, and it’s the catechist who can help the children recognize Him.

We are all called to evangelize in our own way. Working the soil (meeting with the children each week),
planting the seeds (teaching the lesson), watering and fertilizing (being a tangible example of faith to them, praying with them) readies the garden to produce the harvest. He is the Master Gardener – the seeds grow because of Him, not us. We plant seeds for Him. Sometimes we see the fruit of our work right away; other times, it is not obvious to us – but it is to Him. As you’re out working in your garden at home, pray about joining His gardening team. Mothers and fathers, retirees, grandparents, and young adults are all welcome.

Call me at the office or stop by and say hello. We can talk about teaching, our program, and answer any questions you may have. Bring your gardening gloves!

Anita Modelewski
Office of Religious Ed
631-754-6436

The kingdom of God is like a mustard seed that a person took and sowed in a field. It is the smallest of seeds, yet when full-grown it is the largest of plants. It becomes a large bush and the birds of the sky come and dwell in its branches. Matt 13: 31-32

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