Parental Involvement – Give “assignments” that ask teens to sit down with mom and/or dad—discussing a brief piece of writing that both have read, or a topic like “What do you remember about your own Confirmation?” Some families will actually do this—and thank you for it!

A Success Story: One DRE got parish teens and senior citizens together to watch a video and discuss afterwards. The older folks walked away thinking “Those kids are pretty neat.” And the teens walked away thinking . . . “Those old people are pretty . . . cool!”

“I call your name.” – When planning an event, here are some thoughts:

  • Publicity is great, but nothing replaces a personal invitation—delivered in a conversation. (It worked pretty well for Jesus!)
  • A core group of adults and, hopefully, teens should welcome people in a natural yet intentional way. Greeting people by name is ideal.
  • Starting at least close to on-time communicates the impression that what you’re about is something significant; this of course is very true!

Pray, Pray, Pray – Have a prayer at the start of every session, and at the end. This models something very important, and witnesses to the priority and power of prayer in your own life. Engage the senses in prayer as much as feasible.

A Retreat’s Not a Retreat Without . . . – Make sure that the sacrament of Penance is available and encouraged at some point during every retreat. The Holy Spirit often moves teens (and adults) toward this sacrament during retreat experiences.

Permission, Please – When you take teens off-site for whatever reason, your diocesan pastoral staff probably requires and provides permission forms of various types. Often these are available on-line at your diocesan website.

Service-- Preparing and Processing – Click here for Prayers to use before and after acts of service.

Icebreakers – Some of the best sources for icebreakers are . . . your teens themselves! Oftentimes through school activities and other means they’ve participated in effective, fun ways of breaking the ice. Ask them!

Discussion, Not Free-for-All – Keep discussions a bit focused by using phrases like “Show us the place in what we’ve read that makes you say that.”

Clips and Snippets – Rather than showing a whole movie, try playing clips of well-known films as a basis for discussion.

Witnesses and Teachers – Complement education efforts with occasional witness talks—someone testifying to the power, beauty and truth of whatever is being taught.

Key Words – End each session by posting a few key terms and phrases where all can see them. These visual cues are very helpful for most learners.

Relevance! – Be sure to point out the connections between “real life” and what is being taught. Our Catholic faith always relates to various aspects of our lives; sometimes we have to go a little out of our way to help teens appreciate how faith and life connect.

Sessions Within Sessions – You may have noticed at work or elsewhere that every meeting is really three meetings: the pre-meeting, the meeting and the post-meeting—and that a lot gets accomplished before and after each scheduled session. So budget time for this; know that some kids may want to stick around for a few minutes to discuss some aspect of the session with you.