"What can I do about 'burnout' as a catechetical leader?"
When I was working in a parish, I was a faithful participant in our monthly deanery gatherings of catechetical leaders. I enjoyed the camaraderie of my colleagues and I always learned something to better my practices or my attitudes regarding my particular responsibilities. Thus, when some of my colleagues in the ministry began to complain about not being valued in their parishes by pastors, parents or catechists, I really took note. Some of these leaders had been in the ministry a long time and some were relatively new. To not be valued for something you believe to be an answer to a “call” can bring on burnout and a sense of questioning your own decisions. This is very real. After working with catechetical leaders in four dioceses and many parishes I have come to think that we even start to get cynical and angry which can never be productive in parish work.
Some of the things that have brought about a more positive experience in the lives of catechetical leaders are:
• Be sure you take care of yourself by tending to your own spiritual life.
• Have a spiritual director and meet regularly with her/him.
• Mark your calendar with at least one “God Day” a week. Spend time away from your office in prayer, go to Mass in another parish, do some spiritual reading, spend the day in building up your own spirituality.
• A mentor in my own spiritual journey told me, “If you think you don't have time for an extra hour of prayer, I can guarantee you need two hours of prayer.”
• Try to guide a catechist to do one new thing each week. Vary the catechist and the advice but taking time to work with individuals will energize you.
• Do something ministry-related with a leader from another parish each month. You can go to a lecture, visit a university library, have a study day or some other activity. Be sure you have lunch together!
• Make the seasons important. We are always encouraging others to “anticipate” during Advent and to “meditate and pray” during Lent. Be sure you do something yourself.
As Catechetical Leaders, we all value the Scriptures. Remember the story of Moses and the burning bush. We must be that bush! We need to be a source of wisdom for others, we need to be burning with desire, we need to be present to those who need to hear the Word. What we have to realize is that the “bush was burning but was not consumed.” We must not be consumed but must continue to have the fire in us.