The “back to school” advertisements are making their inevitable debut. A new year of Catholic religious education programs will soon be underway. Preparation for a new year of religious education classes is an opportunity for Parish Catechetical Leaders and Directors of Religious Education to reflect, plan and adjust before children and families return for regular catechetical programs. Explore free printable resources that will support the start of your religious education beginning in late summer or early fall.
Start a New Year of Catholic Religious Education with Prayer
What better way to begin a new year of religious education than with prayer! Explore prayer resources to begin a new school year, including a printable prayer card that can be shared with all the catechists and participants in your program, and a prayer service that gathers students, families, and catechists together as programs begin.
Resource 1: Prayer for a New School Year
As student, teacher, catechetical leader, and consultant, the start of the school year represents a time of new beginnings. Possibilities lie on the horizon as we are brought into contact with various people and open ourselves to diverse experiences. Pray the Prayer for a New School Year Prayer Card, and then take time to write down your own feelings about the school year approaching. Ask yourself, What anticipation and/or trepidation do I sense? What hopes do you hold? What might you learn as the year unfolds? Place your writing in a calendar or journal where you will find it when the year ends. It is likely to provide some interesting insights into the expectations you hold now and how they are met as the year unfolds. Share this prayer card with your children, school faculty, and with your parish catechists, too!
Director’s Tip: Do the same reflection exercise with your catechists, and encourage them to write down and revisit their own insights as well.
Resource 2: Beginning the School Year Prayer Service
As leaders, catechists, children, and families gather together again or for the very first time, planning an event that brings together all of the participants in your program will set the tone for a new year of religious education. The Beginning the School Year Prayer Service is wonderful resource to help leaders plan an effective “back to religious education” gathering.
The Beginning the School Year Prayer Service includes a Scripture reading, traditional prayer, and the option for music and song. It also includes a special blessing of the Religion texts that the students will learn from and be inspired by throughout the year. The Scripture reading and Prayers of the Faithful allow for the participation of readers, who can be catechists or students. At the very end of the prayer service, a fitting sign of peace is shared among all program participants.
The Beginning the School Year Prayer Service is flexible and simple. It is designed so that a catechist can use it with a single class or a leader with an entire program. You may even wish to invite the parish priest to welcome and address the participants during the prayer service. In any instance, the prayer service will place your students and your year in the presence of God.
Director’s Tip: Plan to include all program participants in this simple prayer service to set the tone for your new year of Catholic religious education. Invite input from catechists to help you bring the prayer service to life and tailor it to your own program by adding elements unique to your parish.
Find Inspiration for Your New Catholic Religious Education Year
Resource 1: Ways to Prepare for a New School Year
Written from the perspective of a Director of Religious Education, the 7 Ways to Prepare for a New School Year eBook offers parish catechetical leaders seven suggestions to prepare a new year of religious education. Ranging from setting vision to making time for breaks, this simple resource gives manageable preparation tips for any program leader.
Resource 2: Religious Education and the Flipped Classroom
The flipped classroom approach may offer some key benefits to the families and children in your Catholic religious education program, including opportunities for intergenerational catechesis and more dedicated class time for students to explore and discuss their Catholic faith. The How To: Religious Education and the Flipped Classroom eBook is a downloadable resource designed to explain and provide help implementing a flipped classroom approach to religious education.
Resource 3: Social Media in Religious Education Classroom Article
Resource 4: Applying the Spiritual Attitudes in Your Parish or School
Holiness thrives in an environment conducive to its growth. What sort of sacred spaces can you create in and around your school or parish that will foster a call to holiness among your faculty and students? The 5 Spiritual Attitudes for Your Parish or School Tip Sheet offers suggestions for applying the spiritual attitudes named in Gaudete et Exsultate (Rejoice and Be Glad) to your religious education program.
Share Inspiration with Others
Resource 1: Provide Resources
Help those who will be catechizing your students to understand the vision and theme for your religious education program, and prepare them to integrate it into their own classroom. Share your own experience with them to inspire them as they begin a new school year, and be sure they have the resources that they need to get off to a good start.
Sadlier Religion has numerous free resources that will enhance religious education programs. Make sure those catechizing know they can get free printable resources on Sadlier's Catechist Cafe, access Sadlier Religion program resources via Sadlier Connect, and watch On Demand webinars for inspiration!
Resource 2: Show Appreciation
Thank catechists for their commitment to your program and for their ministry. Share a Commitment to Teaching Card featuring a quote form Elizabeth Ann Seton, considered to be the “mother” of Catholic education, as you begin the year.