How to lead a 90-minute catechetical session


  1. Prayerfully read the scriptures for Sunday
  2. Read a commentary on the scriptures
  3. Identify at least three church teachings that flow from the readings (you won’t use all three, but it helps to be prepared)
  4. Look up related topics in the Catechism of the Catholic Church to refresh your understanding of these teachings
  5. For each of the three church teachings, make a list of at least six points that you want to emphasize for the catechumens. You’ll have a list of at least 18 points related to church teaching (you won’t use more than a few, but you don’t know which ones you’ll need). So your outline might look like this:
Teaching 1
Teaching 2
Teaching 3
Subpoint Subpoint Subpoint
Subpoint Subpoint Subpoint
Subpoint Subpoint Subpoint
Subpoint Subpoint Subpoint
Subpoint Subpoint Subpoint
Subpoint Subpoint Subpoint

Catechetical session

(This can take place on Sunday after Mass or later during the week.)

10 minutes

  1. Greet everyone as they arrive. Invite them to sit in a circle. Provide Bibles to those who did not bring one
  2. Lead the group in prayer
  3. If you are meeting right after Mass, ask someone to read the gospel from Mass
  4. If you are meeting later in the week, lead the group in a guided meditation, walking briefly, but prayerfully, through the Sunday liturgy.

30 minutes
Mystagogical reflection

  1. Ask the catechumens to review for the group some of the points they discussed in their dismissal session
  2. As they speak make a mental note of which points connect with your list of church teaching points you want to emphasize
  3. As they speak, listen for places where they seem most energized
  4. Invite the sponsors to share their understandings of the readings, particularly the points raised by the catechumens
  5. Ask open-ended questions to explore the readings more deeply and lead the catechumens into a discussion of church teaching. For example:
    • Why would Jesus do (say) that?
    • How do you think the disciples reacted to that?
    • If you were in Mark’s (Matthew’s, Luke’s, John’s) community in the first century and heard this story, how would you react?
    • Why do you think the church still tells this story today?
    • How is it possible for this story to have meaning for modern society?

10 minutes

20 minutes

  1. Based on the discussion, choose one of your major church teachings and three of the subpoints.
  2. Discuss these three points with the catechumens. (The exact number of points you discuss is not important. What is important is not to overwhelm the catechumens. Over the course of the liturgical year, you’ll have plenty of time to cover the basics of church teaching. You don’t need to cram.)

  3. Teaching 2

  4. If nothing the catechumens brought up in their discussion of the readings relates to what you prepared, you have two options.
  1. Do your best to discuss a church teaching that does relate to what they discussed. You won’t be as well prepared, but it will be more meaningful to the catechumens. You can draw on the sponsors for help.
  2. Discuss something you have prepared anyway. Explain to the catechumens that this material also relates to the readings, and you had done your best to anticipate what they might want to discuss.

15 minutes
Faith into action

  1. Go around the circle and ask each catechumen and sponsor
    • what they learned about Jesus in the liturgy this week, and
    • how they will live differently this week based on what they learned from the liturgy.
  2. Be sure to share your own learning and commitment to living in a new way.

5 minutes
Close with prayer

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  1. I tried to sign up for the e-mail list, but I cannot move the list over to read what field is next. I am an RCIA team member and former director at Holy Spirit Church in Fairfield, CA.

  2. Thank you for this website, it is and has been so helpful. Would it be possible to set up “printable views” of your articles? I print out most of your newsletters but use a lot of paper on stuff other than just the article I want to save.

  3. I agree that “printable views” would be good, but I’ve found that going to print setup and choosing “landscape” gets me just about everything, except an occasional word at the end of a line.
    I also appreciate the wealth of information availble on this site. THANK YOU!!!

  4. Hi Pat and Raylene,

    It turns out that creating printable views is some amount of programming work. We just haven’t been able to carve out the time to figure it out yet. We hope to get to it down the road.


  5. You can use to take a web page and convert it to a .pdf document. While not as “clean” as a printable view, it works well enough for those who are looking for a hardcopy version. And…it is free!

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