As a kindergarten teacher, Kristina Blackwelder is familiar with the ins and outs of a classroom. As a mom and a Catholic, she has found that using her teaching gifts as a catechist has helped her teach her children the faith and has helped renew and deepen her own faith.
“As a teenager, I went to World Youth Day in Canada, I was in youth group, and I went to TEC retreats,” she says. “But after getting married and having kids, it was busy and a new season. I kind of lost that deep faith. So, even though they are long days, teaching — especially First Communion and Reconciliation — has renewed my faith and made it deeper.”
Kristina began teaching as a catechist at St. Andrew when her son, Caleb, was in kindergarten. She had a small class of four boys whom she enjoyed getting to know. As a public school teacher, teaching religion offered opportunities that her everyday classroom did not.
“It’s nice to be able to also teach about Jesus and our faith because I can’t do that in public school,” Kristina says.
This year, Kristina taught Caleb’s class again. Now in second grade and preparing for their First Reconciliation and First Communion,
Kristina found that not only did it give her a glimpse into her son’s growing faith, but she learned new things and r membered things she’d forgotten.
“I get really anxious about Reconciliation,” Kristina says. “It’s not always something I do as much as I should. I’ve been Catholic my whole life, but it was a good refresher to me, that this is why we go to Reconciliation.
Teaching them helped renew that meaning and importance for me.”
Many cradle Catholics can probably relate to our faith becoming something of a routine, without a deeper awareness of all of the graces and nuances of our faith and the sacraments. Teaching her
students brought it all back to Kristina.
“When we were practicing, Fr. Paul said that when he holds up the Eucharist, you’re supposed to hold a fist to your heart and say, ‘My Lord and my God,’” Kristina says. “I had never known that.”
Bringing the conversations home and
witnessing her son’s first experiences also
“It was cool to see the sacraments through my son,” Kristina says. “After their First Reconciliation when my son came out, he said, ‘Mom, I feel like God came into me, because I don’t even remember what I said.’”
Kristina recommends the rewarding experience of being a catechist as a way to deepen your own faith.
“Especially if you’ve been Catholic your whole life, it helps you remember as you’re teaching the kids what our Catholic faith is truly about,” she says. “Yeah, we know it, but sometimes we go through the motions and forget why we do the things that we do.”