You never know who Jesus will touch through you

by Diocese of Des Moines | January 3, 2022

Child with a nativity set

By John Gaffney

On Dec. 23 late in the evening a parent sent this picture to me.  Earlier that week I had shared the 3D Nativity coloring kit from the McGrath Institute with PCLs and through our Catholic Schools Office.  The mom thanked me for sharing this resource and explained that her kids love nativities.  This activity was a huge hit in their household and the verses in the resource helped make it easy to talk about faith while the family worked on the nativity together. 

The quick little note that I opened on the morning of Christmas Eve reminded me of one of my favorite sacred Scripture passages: “And he gave some as apostles, others as prophets, others as evangelists, others as pastors and teachers, to equip the holy ones for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ” (Ephesians 4:11-12 NABRE). 

I don’t remember when I became drawn to teaching or if it was an invitation that someone extended to me at some point in my youth.  What I do know is that it is a calling that I heard that was also affirmed by the community, most especially those with whom I had the honor to teach.  The more I took on this role, the more I realized it not only was a great responsibility, it was also an avenue that lead to my own personal growth.  I became kinder, less selfish, and more encouraging. 

A year after I came into full communion in the Catholic Church, I was invited to use what I had learned about teaching and focus on the work of helping others come to know God and to begin a journey with Him.  I think about this gentle invitation from Msgr. Frank Chiodo at the Basilica of St. John when I invite others to consider the call to witness to one’s Catholic faith as a catechist in religious education, youth ministry, adult formation, and in a Catholic school. 

As we enter a new calendar year, and are a month or so into the new liturgical year, it is a good time to ponder the many ways God’s call comes.  Below is a list someone once sent to me that I keep in my desk:

  • through the voice of a friend,
  • through prayerful discernment,
  • from the challenge of a homily,
  • from the invitation from your pastor or a parish/school staff member,
  • upon seeing a need and responding with ‘yes’,
  • by identifying with your spiritual gifts,
  • through the movement of the Holy Spirit,
  • or even by accident as you ‘fall’ into teaching.

As I enter a new calendar year, I am filled with gratitude that God has gifted me with the opportunity to be a catechist.  The act ofJohn Gaffney teaching can be a means of grace.  My prayer for the thousands of catechists in our diocese, and for the ones that God is inviting into this ministry today, is that each will experience the mysterious work of grace that happens when we share our Catholic faith; and all of us in that little formation community are transformed. 

John Gaffney is the diocesan director of Evangelizatin & Catechesis for the Diocese of Des Moines.

Diocese of Des Moines

The Diocese of Des Moines, created in 1911, serves people over a 12,446 square mile area in the southwestern quadrant of Iowa, including 23 counties.