PCLs & Catechists

DESCRIPTIONS OF TOPICS FOR PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT (Useful for creating on-site advertisement)

** Refer to the WEBSITE TOPIC: "ADULT SPIRITUALITY" for Spiritual Development Themes (Retreat Experiences).


Unless specified, topics can be adapted to:


What are the formation needs of children in elementary and secondary school? How prepared are parents to lead children in the ways of responsibility, self-control, and accomplishment? How effectively do parents transmit the faith and Catholic spirituality to their children? How well does the Parish serve as an agent of formative support to parents? Parish Catechetical Leaders are called to be change-agents or support-agents in the families that they serve.

This session will offer insight, hope, and ready-resources to help Catechetical Leaders and Catechists to be agents of formative support to the parent community. Participants will identify practices at home and school that foster positive "identity" and authentic self-esteem which readies children to be catechized. SECURITY, AUTONOMY/SELF-CONTROL, INITIATIVE/RESPONSIBILITY, INDUSTRY and GENUINE AFFECTION are the essential elements of positive self-esteem. Identity formation is foundational to a child's spirituality and character.


be the "i" in evangelize!

Catechists, embrace your mission! Be an intentional, invitational and inspirational agent of evangelization to students.  Foster the ABCs of Catholic Identity: (A) Accentuate the Positive. (B) Bring a BE-Attitude to Ministry. (C) Cultivate a Culture of Community.  This presentation will unpack these terms and offer practical, easy-to-replicate ideas. (NCEA Publication: Embrace the Mission: Be the “I” in Evangelize)


"In loco Jesu"

It is commonly known that teachers stand “in loco parentis” … “in the place of the parent.”  In Catholic schools and in Religious Education classes it is accurate to say that the instructor is also “in loco Jesu” . . . in the place of Jesus!  This session will focus on teacher practices that craft Christian Community. (NCEA Book: Embrace the Mission – Be the “I” in Evangelize!)


"ENGAGING THE PARKING LOT PARENT" (Twenty-third publications)

1. Shift Parents from the Parking Lot to Participation (AKA: Engaging Parents in Faith Formation)

Why do some parents rely on religious education programs to be the primary providers of faith formation for their children?  How can catechists move parents from the parking lot to fuller participation?  This presentation will provide practical, applicable, inspirational and compassionate insights for “backdoor” evangelizing that focus on engaging the heart of the parent. (Twenty-third Publications: Engaging the Parking Lot Parent)


2. “Back Door” Evangelizing for “Parking Lot Parents”

Is it your experience that parent-chauffeurs occupy the parking lot while their children attend liturgy, religious education classes, or other events? Do you hold the perception that some parents rely on the parish or school to serve as the primary provider of faith formation for their children or that some parents give minimal or marginal participation in religious education? This presentation will explore ways to move parents from dis-connection to participation. Session participants will receive practical advice as well as free, ready-to-use, easy-on-the-nerves parent-support resources related to child-rearing issues, character development, and family spirituality. Faith Formation Leaders and Catholic School Administrators have no need to add yet one more task to their already overloaded job description. Parent-facilitators are easy to train. (Twenty-third Publications: Engaging the Parking Lot Parent)

3. Companioning Parking Lot Parents  (A FULLDAY PRESENTATION)

To draw parents into fuller engagement with their children’s faith-formation companion them via support, encouragement and helpful resources.  Understand their perceptions, needs, and the paralyzing effects of the culture. Cultivate a “Partnering WITH” mindset, that is, providing parent support that is characterized by Wisdom, Initiative, Truth, and Hope. Presentation suggestions will prime the pump of parent creativity and suggest indirect learning opportunities that empower parents to provide for the faith formation of their children. (Twenty-third Publications: Engaging the Parking Lot Parent)

4. Agents of Accompaniment

Parents and students who journey through life challenges need teachers, catechists, and administrators to respond to their vocation of accompaniment in three ways: (1) to companion parents and students with compassion; (2) to witness, mentor and teach in the manner of Pope Francis; and (3) to communicate hope. This presentation will consider Pope Francis as a pre-eminent agent-of-accompaniment and it will offer practical, easy-to-imitate ideas. (Twenty-third Publications: Engaging the Parking Lot Parent)

5. Parking Lot Evangelization

Is it your experience that parent-chauffeurs occupy the parking lot while their children attend religious education classes or other events? Why not invite your taxi-community inside for refreshment and an easy-on-the-nerves evangelization session? Offer mini-sessions related to child-rearing issues, character development, and family spirituality. Catechetical Leaders have no need to add yet one more task to their already overloaded job description. Parent-facilitators are easy to train. This session will offer practical advice as well as free, ready-to-use resources.

6. BEING a Catechist vs. WORKING AS a Catechist

Attention faith-formators!  Enrich your personal commitment to Jesus and affirm your catechist-vocation. Consider the threefold aspects of your call: (1) witnessing (2) mentoring and (3) teaching. This presentation will consider Pope Francis as a pre-eminent catechist and it will offer practical, easy-to-imitate ideas. (Twenty-third Publications: Engaging the Parking Lot Parent)



Teachers of religious education are agents of evangelization who are called to form, inform, and transform the students they teach.  This session focuses on three tools (strategies and approaches) that support the process of meeting the person of Jesus, thus leading to personal transformation:

  • • Classroom Environment
  • • Beads of Transformation
  • • Gospel ABCs

    Participants will assess personal practices – what works? what does not work? what makes, or could make, the difference? Additionally, participants will experience creative practices that cultivate a Gospel-character within students and teachers.


    Being a Missionary of Mercy – in My Own Backyard

    Attention catechists! Respond to the vocational call to be an agent of mercy!  Learn to make the connections between human need and human behavior that lead to companioning students, parents and colleagues with compassion.


    Promoting gospel character via a liturgical classroom environment

    Teachers of religious education create a culture of spirituality in the classroom environment through environment, ritual, customs, sacraments, and personal example. Participants will consider creative practices to incorporate these elements through the liturgical seasons.


    Long after material inheritance evaporates, spiritual heirlooms continue to nurture the soul and shape the character of children throughout their lifetime. Parents who create a culture of Christian spirituality within their home provide lifelong spiritual treasure. This presentation will suggest "starter ideas" for cultivating a family spirituality that is flavored by the seasons in the liturgical year and an emphasis on Eucharistic devotion.


    If we agree that parents are the "first heralds of the Gospel," then how can we, as Parish Leaders, provide formative support so that a parent feels adequate in the role of being PRIEST, PROPHET and SERVANT-KING within the family? How can we evangelize the evangelizers and validate parents in their vocation? Conference participants will hear practical advice and receive ready-to-use resources.


    Eucharist is food for the journey during all seasons – times of feast and, particularly, in times of famine, failure, or desolation. The session utilizes conference, private reflection, song, guided meditation, and corporate prayer to enter into the mystery and gift of the Eucharist. The session may serve as a model for an adult-formation retreat.


    Apply a six-step approach to student self-regulation. Each step is supported by tried-and-true practices. Discipleship implies Discipline -- that is, the ability to hear the will of God, understand what it means, and put it into action. A climate for discipleship flourishes when teachers incorporate six core practices on a consistent basis:

    • Step 1: Structure for success via classroom management and student motivation
    • Step 2: Know leadership style theory and focus on functioning as a facilitator
    • Step 3: Cultivate a developmental understanding of children
    • Step 4: "Read" human need
    • Step 5: Establish proactive practices and effective consequences
    • Step 6: Partner with parents; being an agent of hope


    Connect the Dots between Attitude, Behavior and Self-Esteem

    Self-discipline (self-regulation, impulse control) requires students to name, claim and tame feelings and emotions that lead to attitude and behavior.  K-8 teachers and administrators will learn how to “read” the signs of student need, to give appropriate, effective response in the moment, and to use pro-active practices for the future. (NCEA Publication: Student Self-Discipline in the Classroom and Beyond)



    Make the most effective use of time within the Religious Education class by STRUCTURING FOR SUCCESS. Session participants will consider "housekeeping tips," grouping activities, classroom routines, student behavior plans, teaching procedures, and ways to organize the classroom environment for success.

    Partnering WITH Parents

    Mutual respect and open communication between parents and teachers is vital for the positive, whole-person development of children. Respectful assertiveness is also characteristic of disciples of Jesus. WITH (wisdom, initiative, truth, hope) suggests a formula for a positive partnership. Teacher goals include:

    • • Adopt a Pro-Active Perspective
    • • Safeguard Personal Boundaries
    • • "Read" and "Feed" Parent Hungers
    • • Speak the truth in love
    • • Demonstrate an "A Plus" Approach
    • • Facilitate Hope


    We Are One Family (Bully-Proofing the Family)

    Bullying is a non-issue when we recognize that we are all members of one family.  Bullying, putdowns, hurtful teasing, and emotional isolation are non-issues when parents foster a healthy sense of autonomy that results in self-control, self-regulation, and positive self-esteem.  Bullying is a non-issue when children know and practice the dynamic of forgiveness. This presentation offers formative support in five areas:
    • personal dynamics of a bully, a victim, a bystander and a disciple
    • proactive parent practices that bully-proof the family
    • strategies for teaching forgiveness
    • advice for victims of bullying
    • electronic resources on topics like bully-proofing, social competency, friendship, how to handle teasing, put downs, cliques, peer pressure, building moral intelligence, esteem-building, . . .


    Catholic Parents - Keepers of the PROMISE

    If a moms or dads were on trial for being CATHOLIC PARENTS, would there be sufficient evidence for a jury to pronounce a verdict of guilty? At their own baptism parents accepted the call to imitate Christ -- the priest, prophet, and servant-king. At the baptism of their child parents promised to be that example within their family. Suppose the prosecutor examined their children on how well parents are fulfilling the vocation of the "first teacher; the primary educator" who leads children to grow in knowledge, love, and service of God? Would there sufficient evidence to be found guilty as charged?

    This presentation offers insights that support parent efforts to be effective as the "first hearlds of the Gospel" to their children. Don't miss this opportunity to learn what really works in building a home environment that helps children in the lifelong process of soul formation.

    Specifically, participants will consider:
    • • How "priest, prophet, king" translates into daily family life
    • • Ways that parents can create a spiritual climate in the home
    • • Ten core indicators of Catholic parenting