This is the story of how I came be a catechist. It’s simple and nothing out of the ordinary – at least I think so.
How many of you have had to do service hours for in order to get confirmed? Count me amongst your ranks because I, too, had to do them. I remember being in 8th grade thinking, “Oh man this sucks! Not only do I have to come to CCD, but I also have to help a stranger.” I wanted to get the hours out of the way, so I searched for places to do them. One Saturday after a confirmation session, my uncle invited me to help him out with his own CCD class. I was not too hesitant. I actually remember begging my mom to let me go and help. She complied, and I went.My uncle was teaching a First Communion class with an energy and fervor I did not understand. Strangely enough, because of this visit the DRE of the program invited me the following year to also teach a First Communion class. It was not too hard, of course. (So I thought at the time). All you had to do was teach from the book! I had it in the bag. Confident in my new found volunteering abilities, I was became more involved in the parish. I became an altar server, and was constantly helping out the youth group.
At the time, I was naive. I had this strong desire to teach and help. I was serious about CCD,but hadn’t found my own particular teaching style. Over the years, I found that my enjoyment of teaching grew through the addition of friends to the CCD staff and the finding of my niche through spiritual direction and mentoring while I attended college. I have come a long way from that young man who was just following the motions; often getting stuck as I stood up there in front of my class.
I remember giving a lesson, and a thought would suddenly cross my mind. I shouldn’t be here teaching! I don’t think I’m making any sense! I wasn’t. Why? Because I was not prepared. I was not ready. I was not taking my role as a catechist seriously. I think I taught Confirmation as a favor more than anything else. It wasn’t until I got to college when I went on a retreat and met friends who were very much involved in their faith that I became more serious. These friends were the ones who taught me how love what I do; to love what I teach. Now, three of these friends are at St. Mary of the Lake Seminary studying to become priests. I surrounded myself with the love and faithfulness of others to the point where it changed my own outlook on the faith.
These were the reasons I was a catechist, bad ones I know, filled with a self-centeredness that ultimately led me to almost stop teaching. Because I wasn’t nurturing and learning, I was going through it all with no guidance or initiative. If I didn’t love what I was teaching, was there any point of telling my students go do otherwise? Now, three years after this turmoil, I have established resources for which I can rely on to clarify the teachings of the Church. I have friends who I can count on and a love for the sacraments. I have to remember that all I am is an echo of God, and that echo needs to be prepared to believe and trust in Him.
And you, why are you a catechist?