Creating a Catechist Handbook
Here are components that can be included in a Catechist Handbook. You will need to go through each section and rewrite it to meet the needs of your parish program. Included are some suggestions which can be changed, deleted, added to, etc.
Overview of Catechesis
“Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.” (Matt 28:19-20)
This share in Jesus’ mission to make disciples and to teach is the responsibility of every Christian through witness and words. Pope Paul VI reminded us in his apostolic exhortation on evangelization, Evangelii Nuntiandi (41), that we listen more willingly to witnesses than to teachers; and if we do listen to teachers, it is because they are witnesses. This missionary mandate Jesus gave to his disciples takes form very intentionally in the call of the catechist. The catechist’s vocation is to share faith and to nurture other’s faith in God through Jesus by instruction, worship, community and service. The catechist’s responsibility includes growth as a person of faith and in the skills of communicating the faith with the group of persons with whom they are entrusted (NDC, p. 230).
Catechesis is a lifelong process that aims to make the faith of each individual real, meaningful, and alive through instruction, community experience, prayer and social action. Religious education, integral to the catechetical process, proclaims and teaches God’s Word and our faith tradition in order that faith might be enlivened and nurtured.
Role Description for Catechists
- To be a practicing Catholic, willing to share your faith with others
- To prepare for and teach each session, following the Diocesan curriculum, Forming a People of Faith, for your grade level
- To arrive at least 15 minutes before the session begins
- To provide supervision and handle discipline issues during sessions
- To participate in ongoing formation in theology, teaching skills and spirituality
- To attend catechist meetings
- (For those working with youth) To receive training on youth protection, to submit to a criminal history background check and to annually sign and follow the form "Best Practices for Pastoral Conduct."
- To participate in a yearly evaluation and create goals for each year
Youth Protection Policy
The Diocese of Evansville has in place a policy that requires that any allegation of child abuse must be reported to civil authorities. If an allegation involves the sexual abuse of a minor by diocesan personnel, the Victim Assistance Coordinator must also be informed.
Sexual misconduct violates human dignity and the mission of the church. The spiritual well-being of all victims, their families, and others in the community is of particular concern to the church.
- Report child abuse: Every allegation of child abuse must be reported to Child Protection Services, an agency of Indiana state government.
- CPS Toll-free: (800) 800-5556
- Local law enforcement: 9-1-1
- Report and inform: In the event of an allegation of sexual abuse of a minor (a person under 18) by diocesan personnel, report the allegation to authorities, and inform the Victim Assistance Coordinator for the diocese:
- Toll-free: (866) 200-3004
- Local: (812) 490-9565
These supplies are available to catechists . . . and are located (where?) If you need other supplies, please contact the Parish Catechetical Leader.
Drop off/ Dismissal of students
Include instructions such as . . .Parents of children in grades preschool through 4th should bring children to the classroom/ All students should be dropped off in the Church/ gym/ cafeteria. Parents should come to the classroom/ Church/ gym/ cafeteria to pick up their child
Children with Special Needs
Our program welcomes and strives to serve all people. Resources for planning lessons for children with special needs are available (in your catechist manual, on the textbook publisher’s website, by contacting the Parish Catechetical Leader, books/ resources are available in the parish office, webinars are available online at http://www.ncpd.org/webinars and here)
- The Diocesan Curriculum, Forming a People of Faith: Lifelong Faith Formation
- You may wish to print the standards for your grade level from the above link. You can check the standards off as you cover them during the year.
- Curriculum Pacing Guide
- This pacing guide will help you plan when you will cover the standards throughout the year.
Catechists should use textbooks and other resources provided by their Parish Catechetical Leader. A list of textbooks which have been approved for use within the diocese is found here (coming soon!). Any additional resources the catechist wishes to use should be approved by the Parish Catechetical Leader.
If you will miss a session, please contact (another teacher on your team, the Parish Catechetical Leader)
Inclement Weather/ Cancelling Class
The Parish Catechetical Leader will make the decision if class needs to be cancelled. Catechists and parents will be notified by (phone calls, texts?) You will be responsible for notifying the parents of your students. A class list including contact information for the parents of your students will be given to you.
- Fire/ Fire Drill- where to go when evacuating the building
- Tornado- where to shelter during a tornado
- Earthquake- how to shelter during an earthquake
- You may wish to show the School Safety Intruder Videos available through the CMG platform (what is used to update Safe Environment training) to your catechists and create a plan for dealing with a violent intruder.
- During any emergency situation, have your class list with you and account for each student after moving to a new location and again once the situation is over.
- If your parish has a Catholic School, check to see what policies they have for dealing with emergencies
Everyone involved in religious education is expected to show Christian values in their words and actions. When discipline problems arise, the catechist should handle the situation in a positive manner. Physical discipline is never permitted. Ideas for ways catechists can handle discipline issues are available through discussion with your Parish Catechetical Leader, in Catechist's Toolbox: How to Thrive as a Religious Education Teacher, in 31 Days to Becoming a Better Religious Educator, and this webinar at Catechist's Journey.
Catechists should attempt to handle discipline problems within their class setting. If problems continue, the student should be taken to meet with the Parish Catechetical Leader. The student's parents will be contacted and a plan will be made to deal with the issue. If the issue continues, a meeting with the parents, catechist, Parish Catechetical Leader and student will be held. Parents may be asked to attend classes with their child. In consultation with the parents, a different setting will be provided if determined that an individual or smaller group setting would be more beneficial for the learner.
Field Trips must be approved by the Parish Catechetical Leader. At least two adults must be present during the field trip. More may be needed depending on the size of the group. A permission form and a medical information form must be filled out for each student.
Please report any accidents or injuries to the Parish Catechetical Leader.
- You may wish to show the Bloodborne Pathogen Video available through the CMG platform (what is used to update Safe Environment training)
Catechist Evaluation & Goals
- Use this tool to create goals and action steps to help you improve as a catechist.
- Parish Catechetical Leaders may meet yearly with each catechist to discuss their goals.
Parish Religious Education Calendar (updated yearly)
Directory of Parish Catechists (updated yearly)
- If you create an online catechist handbook, you may wish to give this catechist directory out as a hard copy instead of posting personal contact information online.