Gary Hoffman has been a St. Sebastian parishioner for more than 20 years. He’s long been involved in the Faith Formation program with his wife Cathy and children (now young adults) Tom and Maggie – most recently as a religion teacher, also known as a catechist. Here are some reflections on why he enjoys his role and why others might consider becoming a catechist.
Tell us about your involvement as a catechist.
I am going on my seventh year of teaching catechism. I started out as a substitute in 2003-2004. I got my own 3rd grade class in ’04 and did that for two years. I taught 4th grade ’06-’07. Then I got involved in playing music for the Generations of Faith/Generations in Faith Together programs. In ’16-’17 I decide to teach again, and taught sixth grade. I switched to fourth grade last year and am teaching fourth grade again this year.
Why did you become a catechist?
I became a catechist for a couple of reasons. I was considering of a possible career change and going into teaching, I wanted to get some classroom experience. I did not change careers, but I did discover that I enjoyed being an instructor. Additionally, I recalled going to catechism as a child and remember the enthusiasm of the teachers and how Catholic instruction could actually be fun.
What do you find rewarding about your work?
The rewards of my work are the times when I discover that I actually learned something by having discussions with the learners about the day’s lesson. It is very refreshing to have an elementary school student correct me or share a thought-provoking question. They are often quite informed and opinionated. And, I even had a former third-grader ask me to be his Confirmation sponsor nine years later!
What is the most challenging part?
The biggest challenge to being a catechist is needing to be diplomatic at times. There are issues that are brought up that I might have to deflect to the child’s parents. When sensitive topics are brought up, I might tell the class that these are tough questions and that there are good people trying to make positive changes in the Church and the community.
What would you say to others who are considering becoming a catechist but are hesitant?
If someone asked me about being a catechist, I would say that it’s a great way to serve the parish and its youth. You will learn some things about yourself and your faith. This is a great Faith Formation team that we have, and it is an honor to be a part of it.