Lisa Mladinich provides clear, helpful, and uplifting support for catechists, from beginners to those looking to learn more about how to reach out to their students. Be an Amazing Catechist: Sacramental Preparation is her follow-up to her first publication, Be An Amazing Catechist. It’s an equally useful resource tailored to religious educators who are working to prepare children and adults for reception of the sacraments of initiation.
I had the honor of speaking with Lisa as she compiled suggestions for this booklet, and I can attest that she is very focused on sharing concrete tools to help catechists meet the needs of a wide variety of students. Sacramental preparation can be an especially challenging task, given that many kids show up for religious education only when it’s time to receive another sacrament, and are there at the behest of a family member but don’t attend Mass or have a basic knowledge of our faith.
The booklet provides both practical suggestions – with proper respect given for tried-and-true techniques like memorization and rote learning – and advice for how to connect with reluctant learners and inspire them to form a relationship with Christ.
Lisa manages to be encouraging without glossing over the real challenges of preparing children and adults to receive sacraments they may not fully understand when they walk in the door for that first class. In particular, her chapter on the Sacrament of Reconciliation addresses the fears and apprehension that can accompany a penitent’s first (or…subsequent) reception of the sacrament. And her advice for working with teenagers in preparation for Confirmation is genuinely optimistic and inspiring without glossing over the challenges that young adults face in today’s world.
This booklet would be a great gift for DRE’s to bestow upon their teams of catechists, either as a kickoff for the year or as encouragement once the first few classes have gone by and the needs of a particular group of students have become apparent. Slim enough to be read through in one sitting, but packed with substantive advice, it would also make a great backbone for a diocesan workshop or professional development for Catholic school teachers (because, regardless of what subject you’re teaching, you are catechizing the students.)
I highly recommend this booklet and Lisa’s first volume as well, and look forward to more of her writing! To learn more about Lisa’s motivation for writing this booklet, check out this interview with Donna Marie Cooper O’Boyle in which she talks with Lisa about her background and her hopes for how her writing can motivate those working “in the fields.”
Disclaimer: I was sent a sample copy of this book by Our Sunday Visitor.