My St. John Bosco Conference Takeaways

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Sorry I’ve been a little AWOL for the last few weeks.

I always get a little engrossed while getting ready for big conference talks.

I just got back from speaking at the St. John Bosco Conference at Franciscan University.

I had two talks. One was called “Catechesis and Conversion.” I’ve actually been working through the content of that talk here on the blog in a series of posts on evangelizing catechesis. I’ll be pulling those all together in a tutorial soon.

The other was called “The Online Marketer’s Guide to Compelling Catechesis.” It was basically all the stuff I’ve learned about online writing applied to catechesis. It went over really well, and I’m anxious to share it with you.

As always, the conference was amazing! As I’ve said before, it’s the best catechetical conference you’ve never heard of.

People came from across the country to get certifications in youth ministry, campus ministry, RCIA, and as DREs and catechists. Most of them come for five consecutive years to get these certifications, although they’ve shortened it. Starting next year the certification will only take three years.

My favorite part

My favorite part is meeting people who are doing the work.

I always get so many great insights for new programs from finding out about what others are doing (it’s not stealing, it’s inspiration). One lady from Modesto, CA is doing a First Communion preparation where parents of 2nd graders attend meetings once a month for seven months.

I asked her if she gets a lot of pushback from parents and she said, “You bet I do! You wouldn’t believe!”

But she’s uniquely qualified to take that flak. Seven years ago she was one of the parents complaining about having to be there. Now she’s teaching the class!

“I just tell them to sit back and enjoy,” she said, “After a few weeks you’ll love it…and they do!”

The evangelization guru

I also had the privilege to meet Andre Regnier, founder of Catholic Christian Outreach, a large campus evangelization ministry in Canada similar to FOCUS in the United States.

Andre is passionate about the how-to of evangelization. He gave me some great food for thought that I’ll share with you later about the importance of a clear call to action when proclaiming the Gospel.

Briefly, Catholics are too wishy-washy about calling students to make a decision for Christ. We just assume it will happen. We need to be more intentional about this and lead students to make the decision.

It seems too Protestant to lead them in the sinner’s prayer, however, no where does the Church say the sinner’s prayer is wrong. The concreteness of making a decision for Christ is something that sticks with students and it’s missing in Catholic formation.

The magic is in the meeting of minds

One thing I’ve learned from meeting catechists at the Bosco Conference is the value of sharing ideas.

I talk about a lot of stuff here but I most definitely haven’t cornered the market in creativity. There’s such a wealth in hearing about what other people are doing and how they’re solving problems.

We don’t have to go to a conference to get that, though. We can share ideas right here too.

I’d love to hear from you about what’s working in your classroom or ministry. Feel free to add your comments if you’ve got something great to contribute. Real growth always happens through collaboration and the meeting of minds.

Let’s all put ours together!

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