Melkite Greek Catholic Church
Saint Peter from St. George Melkite Church IconostasisOffice of Educational Services
Melkite Eparchy of Newton
1710 Surf Avenue - Belmar , NJ 07719
Voice 732-556-6917 - Cell 201-417-3804

Curriculum Supplement

This supplement lists courses from Eastern sources which may be useful in situations not covered by the God With Us Series. Options are presented for Junior and Senior High School instruction in mini-course format. You may choose to select programs from this list that match your student's interests at the time.

The second part of the list features multi-graded programs suitable for vacation school use or for use in parishes with smaller numbers of students and/or resource persons.

Please remember that we are scheduling our fall series of Catechist Formation and Adult Enrichment programs. If you have not returned your questionnaire, please do so or contact the Office of Educational Services at the address given above. Thank you.

Junior/Senior High School Programs

Beatitudes in Focus on You (OCEC)– A 5 Session study unit for teens about the meaning of the Beatitudes as a Vision of Christian living. Sessions cover the following: background of the Beatitudes, Beatitudes as action and living according to God's will. Christian life as prayer and good works, and ways in which we can help others.

The Church Building in Focus On You (OCEC) – A 5- session study unit for teens about the structure and meaning of the Church building. Sessions cover the following: the three parts of the church, the meaning of icons, the holy place and the icon screen.

Celebration: Feasts and Holydays (OCEC) – Forty five session on the major observances of the Church year (38 sessions), the Divine Liturgy (4 sessions), prayer (2 sessions) and icons (1 session).

The Church Building in Exploring Eastern Christianity (Educational Services) - An 8 – session study unit for teens about the Byzantine temple. Sessions cover the following: Christian worship and the Old Testament, Christ as fulfillment of the Old Covenant, the church building s an icon of God's saving work, the holy place, implements of Byzantine worship, and the iconostasis.

Facing Up to Peer Pressure (Greek Archdiocese DRE) - A 4-session study unit for teens about adolescent pressures. Sessions cover the following: positive and negative pressures, cliques, gangs, and facing temptations.

Film and Values in Focus on You (OCEC) – A 5-session study unit for teens about Christian values and contemporary cinema. Sessions cover the following films: Inherit the Wind, Twelve Angry Men, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn , To Kill a Mockingbird and Grapes of Wrath.

Him Again in Focus On You (OCEC) - A 5-session study unit for teens about relationship with God. Sessions cover the following: who is God, prayer, listening to God, God's self-revelation and our images of God.

Honesty (Greek Archdiocese DRE) – A 5-session study unit for teens about personal integrity. Sessions cover the following rules, guidelines, goals, cheating yourself and forgiveness.

The Jesus Prayer (Educational Services) - A 6 session study for teens on the Jesus Prayer. Sessions cover the following: initiation into the prayer, the role of the Spirit, meditation, prayer of the heart, breath control and posture and living prayer.

Knowing Christ (Greek Archdiocese DRE) - A 6 session study unit for teens about relationship with Christ. Sessions cover the following: the identity, teaching and miracles of Christ, the kingdom of God , the Sermon on the Mount, Christ present with us forever.

The Meaning of Icons in Exploring Eastern Christianity (Educational Services) - A 7 session study unit for teens about Eastern iconography. Sessions covers the following: icons in Byzantine spirituality,l icons the home, principal types of icons of Christ, the Theotokos and the saints, and the icon screen in the Byzantine church.

Our Call to Worship in Exploring Eastern Christianity (Educational Services ) An 8 session study unit for teens about the Eastern Christian view of worship. Sessions cover the following: the naturalness of worship, the continuity of Old and New Testament worship, the Church as Christ's Body, the Byzantine tradition, worship as an attitude, and an overview of the structure and ethos of Byzantine worship.

Personhood (track 1 in the God With Us Series Book 7, Respond) – A 4-session study unit for teens about the Christian view of sexuality. Sessions cover the following: our sexuality is of God, sexuality as touched by sin, marriage and monasticism as complementary Christian expressions of sexuality.

Penance, Confession and Reconciliation in Focus OnYou (OCEC) - A- 5 Session study unit for teens about the meaning of sin and repentance. Sessions cover the following: the will of God, asking forgiveness and the mystery of repentance.

Reaching Out: Out Call to Minister (OCA) – A seven – session study unit for teens about the meaning and vision of lay ministry. Sessions cover the following: ministry as showing concern, spiritual gifts given for ministry, ways of providing food, clothing and companionship, and "entertaining angels" in the spirit of Christian love.

Relating to the Elderly (track 2 in the God With Us Series Book 7 Respond) – a 4-session study unit for teens about ministering to the elderly. Sessions cover the following: aging is of God, aging as touched by sin, Jesus and aging and facing the future in hope. Includes planned visits to a nursing home.

Stewardship: Serving in God's World (Greek Archdiocese DRE) – A 5 – session study unit for teens about Christian stewardship. Sessions cover the following: the world as God's gift, our responsibility, the witness of famous stewards, time-talent-treasure and ways we can live the Beatitudes.

What's Love Got to Do With It? Everything! (OCA) – A 7 session study unit for teens about relationships and choices. Sessions covers the following: relating to the God of the Gospel. God's love for us, relationships with family, friends, "neighbor," lovers and Church.

The Story of Our Church in Exploring Eastern Christianity (Educational Services) - A – 14 session study unit for teens about aspects of Eastern Catholic Church history. Sessions cover the following: the place of religion in the human story, the continuity of biblical religion, Christ as fulfillment of the Old Covenant, the Kingdom of God, the Church, the Holy Spirit in the Church, way of life of the Early Church, the Mediterranean world, Christianity and the Roman Empire, the five patriarchates, the Byzantine tradition, divisions in the Church and emigration in America.

Who is God? Who Am I? Who Are You? (Greek Archdiocese DRE) A 14 session study unit for teens about Christian identity. Sessions cover the following: personal self-knowledge, personal weakness and guilt, sexuality, the passions, our fears and lack of self-image, and God's eternal love.

Witness and Witnessing in Focus on You (OCEC) – A five session study unit for teens about baptism as a call to witness for Christ. Sessions cover the following: the meaning of witness, witness in the Old Testament, martyrdom, witnessing to Jesus Christ, ways in which we can witness.

Achieving Your Potential in Christ: Theosis by Anthony Coniaris (Light & Life Publishing) – Plain talks on one of the major doctrines of the Orthodox Church. Relates theosis to the everyday life of Christians

Contemporary Moral Issues Facing the Orthodox Christianity Stanley Harakas (Light and Life Publishing) Chapter topics include Astrology, the Occult, Women in the Church, Pornography, Abortion, Homosexuality, Divorce, Human Rights, Racism, Capital Punishment, Ecology, Euthanasia, the donation of Organs after Death and many more.

Sex:It's Worth Waiting For by G Speck (Light and Life Publishing) - The author talks to teens in a frankly Christian direct way about the best choice for them: to reserve sexual expression for marriage. In so doing, he deals with what to do if all this information is coming too late. Helpful and heartrending letters from teens are included for special emphasis and illustration.

Multi-Graded Programs

Celebrating Faith (God With Us Publications) - A 5 session study unit on three levels (Younger children, preteens, teens) on the Nicene Creed. Sessions cover the following: the Father, the Son, the work of Christ, the Holy Spirit, the Church, the holy mysteries, the life of the world to come.

The Earth Is the Lord's: Caring for God's Creation (OCA) - A 5-session study unit for children and teens on Christian stewardship. Sessions cover the following: creation as of God, man as responsible for creation, man as priests of creation, threats to creation and being stewards of creation.

God is Calling You! Purpose for YourLife (OC) – A 7 session study unit on three levels (Younger children, Pre-teen, Teen) on the theme of vocation. Sessions cover the following: our common call to love, using your special gifts, resisting God's call, parish lay ministry, ordained ministries, monasticism and finding your vocation.

Teach all Nations! Proclaiming the Gospel around theWorld (OCA) – A 7-session study unit on three levels on the theme of mission and our missionary responsibilities. Sessions cover the following: the Gospel as Good News, the first Christians, mission in the apostolic Church, the growth of the Church in Europe and Asia , the Alaskan mission, the Church of the immigrations, and ways we can share in the Church's missionary life.

List of Publishers/Distributors:

Educational Services (The Jesus Prayer, the Story of Our Church, Our Call to Worship, The Meaning of Icons, The Church Building and – God With Us Publications (Celebrating Faith, Personhood, Relating to the Elderly)
Order from:
Theological Book Service
PO Box 509
Barnhart , MO 63012
877/484-1600 voice
800 325-9525 fax
Greek Orthodox Archdiocese, Department of Religious Education (Facing Up to Peer Pressure, Stewardship, Honesty)
Order from:
Department of Religious Education
46 Goddard Ave
Brookline , MA 02446
800 566 1088 voice
617 850 1489 fax
Orthodox Church of America (Celebrations, The Earth is the Lord's God Is Calling You, Reaching Out, Teach All Nations and What's Love God to Do with It?)
Orthodox Christian Education Commission (Beatitudes, Belonging to the Church, Celebration, The Church Building , Creation/Creating, Film and Values, Him Again, Witness & Martyrdom)
Order from:
P.O. B ox 1051
Syracuse , NY 13201
800/464-2744 voice
315/422-1893 fax
Light and Life Publishing– Achieving your Potential, Contemporary Moral Issues Facing the Orthodox Christian and Sex: It's Worth Waiting For
Order from: Light and Life Publishing
408Park Glen Road
Minneapolis, MN 55416
1-952 925 3888
1-888 925 3918 (toll free fax)
On line:

Saints Peter and Paul

Christian Education

on the Web

Office of Educational Services

Melkite Eparchy of Newton


The wealth of published material for the catechesis of children and youth in the Eastern Churches is supplemented by a number of programs available on various web sites. These are generally available for downloading and use in conjunction with existing curriculum materials. The following sites include programs which are easily integrated into our current Church School programs:

Links last checked on January 14, 2007

Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese Department of Christian Education
( – See especially their:
Antiochian Gospel Program – One-page texts or paraphrases of the Sunday Gospel (Antiochian Greek cycle, Julian paschalia) with discussion questions and an appropriate image on five levels (preschool, Grades K-2, 3-5, Middle School, and High School). They may be downloaded and used before the Liturgy to prepare children to listen attentively to the Gospel reading or after the Liturgy to review what was heard.
Tithing Program – Four complete lesson plans on five levels (Grades K-1, 2-3, 4-5, Middle School, High School) presenting tithing in the context of loving and serving God. Several supplemental activities enable catechists to repeat the lessons in following years. It is suggested that the four lessons be spread out over the course of the year rather than used on successive Sundays.
The Scribe: Searching for Christ in the Old Testament – Lessons from the OCEC's new Middle School program are being posted as available. As of November 1, 2006 Units 1 and 2 (student text and teacher's guide) are available. It is designed to present the most important aspects of the Old Testament as they relate to the New Testament.
Greek Orthodox Archdiocese Department of Religious Education
( - See especially their:
The Cana Curriculum for High School – The first 12-lesson unit of this ambitious project on the core Gospel message is currently on line. Using Boston College professor Thomas H Groome's approach to interactive catechesis, each lesson presents an issue, then engages the students in a dialectic between the values of the world, secular society, the media, etc.) and the Church's story. Thus Lesson 1, "Who Am I and Whom Do I Follow?" is based on the premise "Does my choice of friends tell me anything about who I am?" and interweaves the Scriptures, the Creed, liturgical texts and patristic quotations to present the approach of our Tradition on the issue.
Interactive CDs – Three programs of interest available on CD-ROM (The Royal Road: A Journey through Great Lent; Put on Christ: Baptism and Chrismation; Crown Them with Glory and Honor) may be previewed on line.
Orthodox Church in America Department of Christian Education
( – See especially their:
Focus Curriculum – Units of five or six lessons on a number of levels, from pre-K to adult. Of particular interest are the units "The Journey to Pascha" and "The Nativity Season."
Mini-Units – See, for example, the two lessons on three levels entitled "Defenders of the Faith," featuring martyrs and confessors such as St Stephen the Proto-martyr and St Catherine of Alexandria. Also look at the "Lenten Read-a-thon" program and consider putting together a children's bookshelf with material on designated levels. The concept of the "All-Parish Education Sessions" may be adapted to any topic and combined with a presentation (a homily, instruction or personal witness).
Teacher Resources – This section includes dozens of handouts, activities and other teaching tools to complement the OCEC curriculum which also work well with the God With Us Series.

Other Sites

Groups and individuals have included sometimes useful Christian education material on their sites. You may wish to look at the following: - posts downloadable handout sheets on the Sunday Gospels and other topics on several levels from pre-school through adult. - Religious Education director for the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Pittsburgh, Phyllis has a site chocked full of resources, teaching tips, lesson plans, etc. See her twice-yearly packers which contain advice on issues such as How can we make the Resurrection real to pre-schoolers." Her adult education study guides to books by Metropolitan Anthony Bloom, et al., articles, plays, games, seasonal items, etc. etc.

St Nicholas Greek Orthodox Parochial School of Tarpon Springs, FL publishes a downloadable Sunday bulletin for children (Greek cycle, Julian paschalia), prepared by Fr. Joseph Samaan. For further information contact

Office of Educational Services - CHDS No.1


1 . The term "Liturgy" refers to:
a) Public service
b) Public worship
c) Both the above
d) Neither of the above
2 . The basic aspects of human nature expressed in liturgy are:
a) The need for individual self expression
b) The need to come together
c) The need to worship
d) The need for non-verbal expressions
3 . The term "hours" refers to:
a) The ‘cathedral ‘ services of vespers and matins
b) The all-night vigil services
c) The brief services prayed every few hours during the day
d) The monastic services of compline and midnight prayer during the night hours
4 . The chief offices of the Byzantine Churches are:
a) Orthros and matins
b) Matins and vespers
c) Great Compline and the Great Hours
d) Vespers and the Akathist
5 . The following observance (s) is/are not included among the Twelve Great Feasts:
a) Palm Sunday
b) Hypapante (Presentation of the Lord in the temple)
c) Immaculate Conception
d) Pascha
6 . The weekly commemorations include:
a) St. John the Baptist on Monday
b) The sufferings of Christ on Wednesday and Friday
c) The departed believers on Saturday
d) All the saints on Saturday
7 . The design and structure of Byzantine Churches is related to:
a) The Jewish Synagogue
b) The Jewish temple
c) The Greek Basilica
d) The Roman catacombs
8 . The design and placement of icons in the church building is meant to reflect in a visual way:
a) The effects of the Divine Liturgy and the Sacraments
b) The history of the Church in God's loving plan
c) Our relationship to the mystery of God's love
d) The relationship of clergy and people in the Church
9 . The bishop:
a) Presides over the Liturgy because he is the head of the Community.
b) Is head of the Community because he presides over the Liturgy.
c) Is head of the diocesan community, but not the parish community.
d) Is represented in the parish Liturgy only by the priest he has sent.
10 . Thy mystery of holy orders (priesthood) includes the offices of:
a) Patriarch, bishop, and priest
b) Bishop, priest, and deacon
c) Bishop, archpriest, and priest
d) Priest, deacon, and subdeacon
11 . The proper celebrant of the Divine Liturgy is/are:
a) The bishop surrounded by his priests and deacons
b) The Clergy and the people together
c) Christ
d) The chief of the concelebrating clergy
12 . The Divine Liturgy commemorates and makes present:
a) The Sacrifice of the Cross
b) Christ's death and resurrection
c) Christ's whole earthly life
d) The entire saving mystery of Christ, past and future


1. The Blessed Virgin Mary is called __________________________.
2 . Our homes are properly called ______________churches.
3 . We are initiated into the family of God when we ___ ______________.
4 . ___________________ is the more common Eastern term for what the West calls sacraments
5 . The evening communion service held with vespers during the Great Fast is called the ___________________________.
6 . The series of prayers, beginning with the Trisagion ("Holy God . . . ") and ending with the Lord's Prayer is called the ______________________________.
7 . A prayer shrine placed in the corner of a room, usually the eastward corner, as the focus for personal or family prayer is called ____________________________________.
8 . The author of the Divine Liturgy we celebrate most of the year is _________________________.
9 . Baptism includes _______________________-- _______________________
10 . The word "Eucharist" means _________________________.
11 . What do we sing at the Great Entrance ________________________
12 . Where do the beatitudes come from?_____________________________
13 . Short hymns made up of verses taken from the Old Testament psalms, chanted by the choir and congregation are called ________________________
14 . The parents of the Virgin Mary are ________________-and _____________
15 . A brief chant expressing the event remembered on a feast which becomes the theme song of the feast is called a ________________________.


1 . The Church's liturgy is completely distinct from the concerns of ordinary life.
2 . The liturgy is God's normal way of sanctifying us
3 . The term kairos refers to purposeful time, such as the appropriate moment for action.
4 . The practice of praying at fixed times during the day began in the monasteries of the Middle Ages.
5 . The most ancient and important celebration of the Church year is Pascha
6 . The Great Fast is the only obligatory fasting season in our Church.
7 . The raised areas of the church where the word of God is proclaimed is called the narthex.
8 . The iconostasis serve to remind us of both our separation from and union with God.
9 . The basic priesthood in the Church's worship is that exercised by the bishop.
10 . The priesthood of the faithful is exercised by each believer, both individually and corporately.
11 . The Eucharistic Liturgy is the continuation of the Old Testament's Temple sacrifices.
12 . The Divine Liturgy is our entry into the perpetual self-offering of Christ the High Priest.


1 What takes place during the singing of the Cherubic Hymn?
A The Little Entrance
B The Creed
C The Great Entrance
2 Liturgy means:
A Public worship
B Common work or common action
C The work of all of God's people
D All of the above
3 What Feast is celebrated on February 2?
A Valentine's Day
B The Encounter
C Hypapanty
4 The Feast of the Encounter occurs:
A 40 days after Christmas
B February 20
C January 6
5 What do we celebrate on the Feast of the Encounter?
A The first meeting of Jesus, God and man, with His people
B The recognition of the baby Jesus as the Messiah
C Joachim and Anna recognize Jesus as the Messiah
D All of the above
6 The two candle candleholders used by the bishop are called?
A Dikerion
B Candlebra
C Menorah
D Trikerion
7 Which Father of the Church said: "God became man that man might become God"?
A St. StAthanasius
B. St. Basil the Great
C St. John Chrysostom
8 The form of the Liturgy celebrated on most Sundays and feast days is the Liturgy of:
A. St. James
B St. John Chrysostom
C St Basil the Great
9. The Apostle connected with the apostolic see of Constantinople is:
A. St. Mark
B. St. Andrew
C. St. James
9 Who was the Apostle who connected with the establishment of the see of Alexandria?
A St. Mark
B St. Matthew
C St Peter
10 Name the Apostle connected with the apostolic see of Jerusalem:
A St. James
B St John
C St Mark
11 Name the twelve Apostles?
A Andrew, Matthias, James, Peter, Jude, Simon, Judas Iscariot, Bartholomew, Matthew, John, Philip, Thomas.
B Andrew Barnabas, Simon, Jude, Mathias, James, John, Philip, Peter, Thomas, Judas Iscariot,
C Andrew, James, Peter, Paul, Jude, Simon, Judas Iscariot, Bartholomew, Mathew, John, Philip, Thomas
12 The evening service consisting of psalms, hymns, biblical canticles and litanies is called?
A Matins
B Vespers
C Orthros

Answers: (1-C;, 2-D, 3-C, 4-A, 5-A+B, 6-A, 7-A;, 8-B, 8-B, 9-A, 10-1< 11-A, 12-B)

Saint Peter from St. George Melkite Church IconostasisOffice of Educational Services
Melkite Eparchy of Newton
1710 Surf Avenue - Belmar , NJ 07719
Voice 732-556-6917 - Cell 201-417-3804


Strategies for involving parishioners as catechists in your program

In churches of every description – Eastern or Western, historic or reformation, large or small, urban or rural – the recruiting of catechists is the major problem facing church school coordinators. This is a crucial issue as the person of the catechist s the single most important element in any program. A number of factors have been suggested a being the causes of this situation:

  • 1 Being a catechist is not a role valued in the congregation or by the pastor;
  • 2 Religious education is not a high priority in the parish;
  • 3 Few in the congregation see the church school in action;
  • 4 Catechists feel isolated and neglected;
  • 5 Too many (or too few) students to deal with;
  • 6 Little Parental support leading to erratic attendance by students;
  • 7 Inadequate facilities, equipment and other resources;
  • 8 Little sense of satisfaction or accomplishment evident;
  • 9 Lack of training or support leading to catechist not succeeding in assignment;
  • 10 Serving in the church school demands more time than a person may have to give.

All of these reasons are true and your parish program may be suffering from any number of them. In some parishes church school classes are dispensed with for any number of reasons, often because a social has been planned for the same time! In other parishes religious education receives little interest from the parish council, negligible funding, and no visibility to the whole parish. We would be hard pressed to find catechists who would be willing to serve under such conditions.

However, even when these situations do not exist, recruiting catechists is a perennial problem leading us to see other, even more basic reasons at the heart of the matter:

For a number of reasons, most parishioners have been led to believe that to be a good Christian one need simply be a spectator rather than a participant. One reason is that many see the most important aspects of church life, including worship and administration as well as service, as the province of the clergy. "We're not smart enough" or "That's what we pay him for" are often the reasons given for this attitude People who do get involved are often seen as ‘religious fanatics', even by fellow parishioners. Thus the readiness of parishioners to serve as catechists is generally equal to the level of faith and discipleship as a whole in that parish.

As people become more aware that all believers are called to participate actively in all dimensions of the Church's life, the number of people open to serve as catechists will grow. And so the first step in catechist recruitment as it were, is the raising of parishioners' consciousness concerning what it means to be Church. Intensive preaching, parish renewal and adult enrichment programs, and a good deal of one-on-onediscussion is needed before that attitude spreads through a large sector of the community.

Whatever the percentage of parishioners committed to service in the parish, there is often a tendency toward competition between various parish activities for the good workers. Frequently leaders have the good of their own programs at heartand do not see any wider need in the parish. Similarly, since"George" will always say yes, everyone asks "George" to take on yet another task. The result is that "George" does it for a while,then gets so burned out that he won't accept any more responsibilities in the parish. Then we look for a new "George.

Parish leaders need to evaluate their needs together and coordinate their recruiting activities so that all those in the parishwho are willing to serve will be placed in the best way possible. Leaders need also realize that certain tasks – and being acatechist is certainly the chief of them – are so demanding that a person who has accepted to service in this way should expect other parishioners to respect this commitment by not asking them to roll grape leaves, sell raffle tickets or otherwise divide their energies.

Our lifestyle is continually changing. Where a few years ago mothers of church school students were prime prospects for recruitment as catechists, today most of them are working outside the home. Some are also single parents with little time to themselves. And so we need to direct our attention to other subgroups in the parish as we'll; the two principal ones being the parish "grandparents" and the childless young adults.

Persons in both these groups generally have more time to devote to the service of the parish family as they do not yet (or no longer) have families of their own to care for. In addition, both groups are ‘naturals' for involvement in the church school as younger persons are often seen as role models for children and senior citizens as surrogate grandparents. This is especially important in our society in which children are often not part of the extended families in which such figures would traditionally have been found.

Realizing that all these obstacles must be overcome to make a significant difference in your catechist recruitment, we will offer here some procedural suggestions for recruiting. If these are followed without dealing with the above problems you may experience some success, but probably not much, Implementing them should go hand in hand with working to raise the awareness of the entire community to what Church is really all about.

In discussing recruiting procedures it may be helpful to see them in terms of the classic questions of news reporting: who, what, why, when and how.


The potential catechist must, first of all, be a Person of Faith who is committed to living the life of our Church and who has made its way of life and teachings their own. Persons whose commitment to the Church is more social than spiritual or whose personal beliefs exclude aspects of the historic faith or of our particular Tradition should not be asked to serve.

Those who evidence a desire to deepen their knowledge or skills for ministry in the Church by attending courses or by personal reading and who seem disposed to accepting the guidance and direction of the pastor and coordinator should be considered seriously as prospective catechists, as this ministry in the Church as much learning as teaching.

Believers whose creativity and imagination have made them teachers, whether naturally, as in the home, or professionally, in the classroom, may be particularly gifted to deal with particular age groups which would respond to these gifts. Thus a person comfortable with music, dance and storytelling would be particularly suited to primary grades. A person skilled in craft projects or drama may relate well to secondary or junior classes. Someone who can guide without patronizing or dictating would be especially appreciated in a high school group. A person who can help others synthesize their own experiences and the Tradition of the Church can be a invaluable catechist for adults.


Often it is the parish priest or coordinator who is the recruiter of catechists. Too often this means waylaying a prospect after Liturgy, giving them an inadequate idea of what is involved, and - since it is often a last minute kind of activity – being content with having plugged another hold in the dike.

One way which has often succeeded in increasing the number of volunteers is to increase the number of recruiters. By bringing more people into the process of enlisting catechists we raise their awareness of the nature of ministry in the Church as well as of the needs of the parish. Often this generates a number of spokesmen who can plead the cause of the catechetical program more effectively than any one person can do. Likely candidates as "associate recruiters" are:

Present Catechists - Discuss the above criteria for catechists with those presently involved in the program and invite each one to suggest one of their personal friends who might be suitable as a catechist. Ask them to open the subject with their friend and see if they are willing to learn more about what is involved. Then you take it from there.

Parish Council - The recruiting of volunteers for all grades of ministry and

other forms of parish activity should be a regular priority for the church council. If the council takes up this responsibility seriously It will surface more interest than can at first be absorbed. FOR WHAT ARE WE RECRUITING?

One of the obstacles to recruiting catechists, mentioned above is that

Many people simply do not have the time (or the inclination) to commit themselves to preparing classes every week for an entire year. They may accept under duress but often simply don't show up for every session. The more varied interests people have, the more this is likely to be the case. One way of dealing with this problem is by offering alternative forms of service which do not demand such a weekly commitment. Several options are possible, such as:

Short term teaching - In this model people commit themselves to teach only one part of the school year. This may mean all fall, all spring, or summer school. It may also mean two or three out of the usual six units or quarters of the curriculum. Thus two teachers may be used in one class, with each teaching an alternate unit in the curriculum.

While alternating units or quarters may be a good idea, alternating every other Sunday is not. This deprives the students of continuity as this week's teacher usually does not have a clear idea of what last week's teacher stressed or required.

Even when catechists have made commitments to teach all year long, the alternating unit plan might prove successful if at least part of the catechist's "unit off" would be devoted to skills enrichment.

In any case, indicate a clear beginning and ending time for this commitment. New teachers could be invited to attend staff meetings at one, although they do not begin teaching until the fall. Catechists should be urged to complete a predetermined time in the program (e.g. through the school year) before considering recommitment or dropping out.

Topic Teaching – Another approach to short term teaching is teaching by topics. People with particular interest may be asked to teach particular topics to various groups. Thus a person who has lived in the Holy Land may be asked to give the classes on bible lands or the saints associated with these places in the fourth or sixth grades. Similarly a person who is good at crafts may be asked to handle the activity portions of some classes. Especially if the regular catechist is all thumbs in such pursuits.

Student Teaching - Often teenagers become restless in church school. They are at an age when they seem to be in continual activity and sitting in a class doesn't often fit their needs. They may be used as aides and even as occasional teachers in the younger grades. They will certainly learn more about the topic than they did when they were students in those grades and they might learn more than they would in a high school class as well. This would be most successful if several teenagers collaborated on a lesson. The coordinator could supervise and the regular catechists would not need to be present. This should not exempt them from any teen guidance-oriented sessions, however.


The immediate strategy for catechist recruiting involves the following steps:

1 Determine Your Needs - Immediately after Pascha, Begin discussing the next year's program with your present catechists. Determine who will be available to serve next year and which classes they would prefer to teach. You should ask teachers at this time to let you know within the month if they will be available for teaching next year, if they wish a year off, or is they want to leave the program altogether. There will always be contingencies which may affect their decision at a later date, but this will at least give you a general idea of how many new teachers you will need for the fall.

You may have dedicated volunteers whom you feel need a break, or who should be retired gracefully or transferred to other duties. Discuss these cases with the pastor, then approach each one personally and share your thoughts with them before they have renewed their commitment.

Determine what additional workers you may need because of program expansion (e.g., for adding preschool or high school groups to your program).

2 Pray About It - The next task in personnel recruitment is prayer that the Lord make manifest the gifts that He is giving to the community through the various members of the parish. This prayer is the first way in which we can discern whom the Lo4rd is calling to serve in parish ministry. The more who are involved in committee prayer that people acknowledge their gifts (clergy, parish council, present catechists), the more will such gifts be manifested in a survey or in other ways. We are not speaking here of a pro forma 45 second prayer at a parish council meeting, but a firm commitment to ask the Lord for the gifts He has promised.

Just as we pray for the development of gifts, we ought also to pray for discernment on the part of those responsible for accepting people to be catechists. Many times people are enlisted because of their good will rather than any clear sense that they are called to be catechists. We need to pray that recruiters be guided by the Lord's call rather than the needs of the moment in inviting others to serve in this way.

You might schedule one or more group prayer times (e.g., on Sunday afternoon) or designate certain days on which all present catechists and parish council members commit themselves to fast and pray for this intention. The degree to which this is done will be related to the group's stance on the role of prayer in their own lives and the life of the parish.

3 Coordinate Your Quest with Other Parish Needs - the next step in such a program should involve the determination of available persons for all parish activities. This may include a parish wide interest survey followed by an evaluation of the responses by the parish council. In the spring an interest survey form, along with a return envelope, could be mailed to each individual member 16 and over . Perhaps this call to service in the Christian community could be connected with the Lenten summons to a more intense Christian life. The purpose of this survey is to make people aware of the needs of the parish, and of the possibilities for service of all types which exist in your community.

The results of this survey would then be discussed by the parish council and a design for next year's structures, sketched out. Care should be taken that the gifts of as many people as possible be put to use and that the same old faces not be expected to do everything. In one sense this session should resemble an athletic league's draft session which coaches share recruits among the various teams.

A parish interest survey such as this is the best ay for a new pastor to discern who is interested in ministry in the parish. Larger parishes or parishes with a high proportion of transients could conduct this survey annually or at least every other year. Smaller or more stable parishes could do it less frequently. In either case new parishioners could be given the questionnaire whenever they join the community.

The most important side to such a survey is the degree with which the parish leadership implements the results. And so initiating this process presumes that there are no doors which are closed in the parish. Often certain tasks or ministries seem to be the private preserve o f certain individuals: This is so-and-so's kitchen", or "Mr X has always taken care to that here". When you invite people to express an interest in serving in new ways, you must be willing to give up a proprietary system such as this. One way parishes have done away with this system is by having all ministries in the parish operate for specific terms.

These steps should be followed by (a) a direct invitation to those responding to our questionnaire, offering them the positions determined by the council; and (b) training programs for each of the ministries envisioned.

4 Personal Visits – In this, the most individual approach, the recruiters would visit prospective catechists and carefully explain what is involved in the program and invite them to seek guidance in prayer as to whether the Lord may be asking them to give of themselves in this way.

Both the "why" and the "what" of this ministry should be clearly explained. If sincere prayer and discernment have been employed, the person should be made aware of this, not to make them feel guilty if they do not comply, but to witness to the importance of this ministry in the life of the Church. All one's cards should be laid on the table so the person can make a responsible decision.

5 Promotional Strategies - A number of other techniques are generally used to publicize program needs. These may be done independently of the above mentioned survey, but more profitable if this kind of information gathering precedes them:

Letters – from the pastor and or coordinator inviting people to join them in this ministry

Phone Calls – clearly a more personal approach; also, more of your staff could get involved in the process of inviting others to join them in this ministry.

Pulpit Pleas - here again, depending on the wishes of the pastor, the catechists themselves can witness to the satisfaction (and problems) they have experienced in this ministry as part of your invitations.

In these various ways of reaching out, remember to be accurate, brief, clear, and interesting. Do not limit your recruiting to a single time or a single means. Various studies have shown that 62% of all ideas are remembered and worked on only after they have been presented six times! It is said that an idea or fact presented once to 100 people is forgotten by:

25 people - 24 hours later;

50 people - 48 hours later

85 people – 4 days later

98 people – 2 weeks later

Remember: Repeat, Be interesting, Repeat

6 Observation - the prospective catechist may be invited to visit the program in action, to see the various classes and the other kinds of activity involved.

7 Covenant - the person should be presented with a concrete job description and asked to sign a covenant with the community spelling out their responsibilities and what they can expect from the parish.


Many good ideas on this subject may be found in the chapter in Discerning Your Call. In addition, the following ideas may prove food for thought.

When Christian parents have a child they are expected to bring that child to church to be presented to the Lord. The child is offered to God in the sight of the entire community which welcomes its newest member. In this way the community accepts a kind of responsibility for the Christian upbringing of its children, a point that many pastors make regularly at both churchings and christenings. Providing catechetical opportunities to is children is one way in which the parish fulfills this responsibility. The congregation should be reminded of this fact when you are recruiting catechists.

Another aspect of this ministry often overlooked in recruiting catechists is the children's need for pastoring. In many instances the catechist may be the only one of the Church's ministers who has regular dealings with the children of the parish.. This makes them de facto "pastoral assistants" which can be especially helpful in situations of family disintegration, loss or death. Needless to say, one does not talk about this aspect of the catechist's service if we are trying to make it as brief a commitment of time as possible.


Early! Early!! Early!!!

Your time frame for catechist recruitment and "basic training" should be the spring before their service is expected to begin. If you are doing an interest survey, it should be taken during the Great Fast. The recommitment of current catechists and the invitations to potential catechists should be begun after Pascha. The "basic training" of new catechists should be a project for the summer.

How often do we hear coordinators say at the end of August, or even the beginning of September, that they will need volunteers. What does this itself say to the parish about the quality of your parish program? Should there be parents in the community who sincerely want Christian formation for their children. Would they be encouraged to think that the parish catechists had two weeks notice and no instruction? It should be preferable in such circumstances to limit the classes to those you can organize within an appropriate margin of time to allow for at least basic preparation.

Finally, as mentioned above, success in catechist recruitment often depends on the total vision of Church current in the parish; is religious education a value, does it have a high profile in the parish, is it important to the parish leadership, etc. The more interest is likely to be aroused. Thus many parishes devote a regular page or column in their newsletter to the catechetical program. In other parishes the program itself produces a publication to keep the program before everyone's eyes on a regular basis.

Questions for Reflection

1 We all remember the picture games we played as children in which we had to find how many mistakes there were on the page. In the same vein, read the following actual catechist recruitment notice which appeared in a parish bulletin at the end of August. In light of what has been said above, how many "errors" can you find in this announcement:

Sunday School needs two volunteers who are willing to commit themselves to teach our children. Books and Teacher's Manual provided. See X now!"

2 How different is the way catechists are recruited in your parish?

Roman or MelkiteWhat's the Difference   by Fran Colie Originally from Golden Chain - November 1999

Roman or Melkite - What's the Difference?

For many years due to an unhappy preoccupation with things Western, many Melkite Catholics viewed their tradition as simply one of liturgical difference, rather than what it is, a unique, authentic and totally integrated interpretation of the Gospel message. Despite our Patriarch's courage in shaking the torpor of the Latin West to restore the Byzantine Church to its rightful place, as an Eastern Church in our own rite and not merely as an Eastern Rite or subsidiary constituent of the Roman Church, there are still many who are attracted to Western devotions, services and worship, saying "what's the difference, we are all Catholics , Latin or Melkite –same God, same thing – we can fulfill our obligations either way" and pick and choose things they like about both traditions. The point is in the Melkite Church, we don't look upon Church as an obligation.. There is a difference! Church is not something we are obliged to do an hour a week on Sunday. In our tradition it's a way of life - our whole life! The way we see ourselves as people of God - the family of God! The Church is the visible sign of the invisible reality that the faithful are already members of the "kingdom". . Every Sunday at the Divine Liturgy we celebrate Christ's victory over death which has been given to us. when we were baptized and brought into the family of God – the Church. The Melkite Church is that Community of the Holy Spirit, where new relationships are built, a new way of sharing, celebrating, thinking, relating, etc,. Only Eastern Christian theology offers this earthly vision of a new kind of man in Christ, a new kind of society in Christ, which we call the Church. Western Christians with their emphasis on incarnation stress involvement which is good as far it goes. Eastern Christianity fulfills that incarnation with resurrection and transfiguration: the power of transforming man and his universe. Perhaps the best way to teach our tradition is to point out the the distinct differences in religious points of view and devotional attitudes between the Roman and Melkite Churches. When we discover how contemporary, liberating and dynamic our theology is in comparison –and when we discover the riches of our own spirituality, all of which are made manifest in a harmonious symphony in iconography, music and liturgy, - being a Melkite, clearly becomes a matter of .choice, rather than an accident of birth. The difference is that we are a risen people - we don't pray to save our souls - and we don't wonder if we have merited heaven by enough , piety , study and actions that are prescriptions for Western church models of spiritual development. In our tradition we are already in the Kingdom and our edict is not to save ourselves but to grow in divinity. Our tradition is not one of rules and recipes or ‘how to's', placing all the burden on what man has to do ‘to get to heaven when he dies', but an experiential faith built on relationship with God-Trinity, that transforms and makes us 'new creatures' as we open ourselves to God in prayer and receive His deifying love. We do not have to live in doubt as to the ultimate reality of what will happen to us when we die – heaven or hell? The choice is ours. We exercise our free will to choose to become like God or to close God out and become locked in a prison of our own self-centeredness, where the only face we see for all eternity is our own. When we are self-centered, it is impossible for us to love. We must transcend ourselves, move out of ourselves to love. God makes it easy for us to do this and grow by sharing the burden with us. In our church we call this reciprocity between God and man ‘synergy'. God works within us as we consciously center on God in our hearts. That is why our tradition is contemplative not activist. In silence, deep, focused prayer, we allow God to transform us into His ‘likeness' and move us outward in ‘diakonia' (service) to others. This process continues for all eternity. It doesn't end with physical death. Religion is relevant for living now and for all eternity. These are spiritual laws for success in this life and beyond. For Melkites, there is no difference between natural and supernatural. The supernatural is natural for us! We don't have to suffer now and wait for physical death in order to experience the joy of heaven. There is a difference! Our entire sanctuary is concealed by the iconostasis:the icon screen; the tangible witness to the mystery we live in the liturgy. It is a symbolic gateway into the kingdom of Heaven. The Church is not the result of human organization, law and order and uniformity. The Melkite mind sees the Church, not as a visible society headed by Christ, but as a Theophany, the eternal breaking into time and unfolding of the divine life through the deifying transformation of humanity in worship. Life in the Church is spoken in terms of glory, light, vision, union, transfiguration and deification. The more juridical vocabulary of power, order, right and justice is less known. The use of terms alone connotes a warm positive, joyful and dynamic attitude about religion rather than an austere and impending one. The Romanesque architecture, with its round arches gives us a safe feeling of being enveloped, rather than the narrow, upward pinnacles typical of Western architecture that leaves us feeling abandoned, spiritually indigent and distanced from God. In the Melkite Church we pray in the rich and full dignity of God and not in the misery and poverty of men. The western mind sees the moral aspects of the sacraments and spiritual life and the strength received from them as an aid in their pilgrimage toward their final beatitude, which to them is not certain. For the westerner, grace is a principle of meritorious action restoring in man the capacity for good works. For us, man is an imperfect similitude of God, which grace perfects. Life in Christ is progressive transformation unto the Likeness of God (process theology. We speak more of divinization and transfiguration to the 'Likeness' of God and less of merit and satisfaction and Beatitude. There is a difference! Divine providence has brought to a place in the history of Ecumenism where we have a responsibility to the universal church to be ourselves. The Roman Church cannot be Catholic (universal) without the Eastern Church. The Church to be truly Catholic must breath with both lungs – East and West. It seems in light of ecumenical events, we Melkite should be more conscious that we have an indispensable vocation to teach and to present ourselves to the whole Church. Moreso, we must reroute ourselves in the doctrines and writings of the Eastern Fathers and stand by what they represent. To do otherwise is to perpetuate an ecclesiastical schizophrenia among our Melkite people. Are we Roman Catholic or Melkite Catholic? No we are not Roman Catholics who do some things a little bit differently from the Latin Church. We have our own I dentity! We have a distinct, separate theology., tradition, spirituality, liturgy, and canon law – that is not opposed to Roman Catholicism, but complimentary to it We have so much to give of our unique and ancient theological and spiritual view of God, of what constitutes a human being in God's view, and of the world around us, that is not evil, but belongs to God. We cannot be casual about this. Continued indifference will result in continued second class citizenship and eventual loss of our identity..

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