Catechists Leader Resources
Adaptive Faith Formation Curriculum and Programs:
- Accepting the Gift offers a curriculum guidebook called Saints, Sacraments and the Virtue of Faith by Amanda DeBroeck
- Adaptive Finding God program offering faith formation for children with special needs that is adaptable to a variety of settings and situations. Adaptive Finding God can be used in conjunction with the Finding God grade-level books or as a stand-alone program for parishes, schools and at home. (Copy available for review through Des Moines Diocese Disability Ministry)
- McGuire Memorial Awakening Spiritual Dimensions: Catechesis and Prayer Services with Persons with Severe Disabilities offers a program and method whereby persons with severe intellectual and physical disabilities and their catechists are given the tools to awaken the Spirit of God within them and learn about the love of God for them. The book begins with the purpose and methods used in the program to allow its participants to evoke and awaken the love and presence of God during a time of catechesis and prayer. It is a sensory-based program of learning allowing the person with a disability to experience a sense of the sacred by way of sight, sounds, aroma, and symbols. The sessions are brief and composed of prayer, scripture, a lesson and a simple written activity.
Awakening Spiritual Dimensions I (paperback or E-book)
Awakening Spiritual Dimensions II: Order from Capuchin College via mail or email (recommended donation of $45):
Fr. Bill Gillum, OFM Cap., M.
4121 Harewood Rd., NE
Washington, D.C. 20017
email Father Bill Gillum
Adaptive Faith Formation Lessons
Recommended Catechetical Publisher Resources or second listing of publisher resources.
Sacraments; Gifts for All Sacramental Preparation Books from University of Dayton are a rich reference for teachers when preparing students with challenging needs for Eucharist. This book has Scripture stories using pictures and minimum wording to illustrate the heart of Christ’s message. Also included are hints for effectively reaching students, questions to consider, concept words, visual, auditory and kinesthetic activities, and a resource list of supplemental publications related to these topics. Materials can be duplicated.
- Taking the Lift to Heaven provides free Catechetical Resources including sacramental preparation resources such as story boards, examination of conscious, First Communion Retreat, liturgical picture guidebook, catechist/aide interest form, catechist prayer and student information sheet. etc.
They also have the program Children of St. Angela Merici which was developed for use with students who have opted to not be in a mainstreamed faith formation class. Mainstreaming is always the goal, but in instance where this is not optimal, this curriculum will provide your students with a rich and interactive alternative. It may also be used as a supplement for your mainstreamed program. This curriculum is heavily influenced by the Catechesis of Good Shepherd method, and is a beautiful complement to that program if it is offered in your parish.
All of these documents are free for download, and may be adapted for your own use. They are not free for resale, even if you adapt them for your own use. If you share them, please kindly point people back to this site!
ASL Faith Formation Resources
ASL YOUCAT is a national project to translate the Youth Catechism (YOUCAT) into American Sign Language (ASL) in order to help evangelize our Deaf brothers and sisters in Christ who do not know Catholicism. This is the first time a Catholic Catechism as been translated into ASL!
ASL YOUCAT resources from the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas including promotional and introductory videos
Deaf Catholic Mom includes YouTube videos posted by a catholic mom of 7 or 8 children from Kansas. It includes videos of prayers & spiritual reflections in ASL.
Father MD's Kitchen Table is a website by Father Mike Depcik a deaf Priest from the Archdiocese of Detroit. It includes homilies, saints information, prayers: Rosary, Stations of the Cross, Chaplet of Divine Mercy all in ASL
Hands of Grace: The Catholic Sacraments in American Sign Languageis an innovative program that features video presentations by Father Séan Loomis teaching in ASL, as well as a workbook that is specifically designed with a visual emphasis to provide a better, dynamic learning experience for the deaf and hard-of-hearing community.
My First Euchartist from NCOD is an online program that you can add into your Religious Education Program for the Deaf. This online resource consists of six lesson plans to incorporate your First Eucharist curriculum for Deaf children, the hearing children will also benefit from it as they can be exposed to ASL and Deafness
NCOD Strengthened in Faith Confirmation Sacramental Preparation in ASL (DVD) study program from the National Catholic Office for the Deaf and Our Sunday Visitor.
Our Daily Hopeis produced by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia Deaf Catholic Ministry and is a daily videolog in ASL.
Religious Signs for Families is an app from the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and is a delightful and engaging way to learn ASL using religious words that are not often found in other ASL apps. The goal of the app is to help families with young Deaf children and Deaf couples with young children to foster prayer in the home. This app provides a way for families to connect while learning religious signs and to bond to one another and God as they pray in ASL. Users extend beyond the family unit because this app is perfect for anyone who wants to learn and use ASL to pray.
Bibles and other resources
Catechism of the Seen Sacraments by Kevin and Mary O'Neill
The Catholic Children's Bible, Revised
Adapted Bible Books Old and New Testament: Adapted Bible Books are designed for children with special needs, particularly children with language disorders. This bundle includes adapted books for 40 Bible stories from the Old and New Testaments. Includes simple and repetitive language and a way for children to participate bible lessons.
Catechist Training Resources
Best Practices for Catechizing Children and Adolescents with ADHD: Simply written resource to help all catechists have an inclusive faith formation experience for children with ADHD and how to demonstrate a loving, faith-filled presence to your group. Great quick resource for all catechists.
Blest Are We: Children with Special Needs Teaching Tips from NCPD
Catechist.com Catechist.com serves catechists and catechetical leaders in parish religious education and formation programs, and religion teachers in Catholic schools. Parents who are providing religious instruction at home will also find encouragement for their important work in guiding the domestic church. Here is one of their articles that includes lessons and activities for teaching children with special needs.
Catechist: Teaching Students with Special Needs
Children's Ministry Pocket Guide to Special Needs: A 15-page booklet that offers teaching techniques, recommendations for parents, and action plans. This comes in a 10-pack.
Creating Learning Environments Using Universal Design: Presentation from ADW Special Needs Ministries and Catechesis available on You Tube.
Making Inclusion Work in Catholic Faith Formation: Article (also available in Spanish) including definition of inclusion and resources such as parent survey, social story for Sign of Peace, and some definitions of disabilities and modifications that can be used for some of the different diagnosed disabilities your children might have and ideas of how to modify material.
Online Special Education Training options from NCDP
Setting Kids up for Success is a training video from Wonderful Works for volunteers working with children. Many children process the world in different ways. This can make them misunderstood. Learn how to set all kids up for success at church by discovering the beginning basics of positive behavior support. Sometimes, it's the most simple things that make the most difference. Also here is some printable resources related to this video: Setting Up for Success Basic Skills Handout and Question Quick List. Additional training videos on a variety of disability ministry topics can be found by joining the visible but private (need to request to join the group) Facebook Page for Wonderful Works by looking under the Guides Tab.
Strategic Components for Successfully Working with Individuals with ASD from NCPD
Support Faith Formation for All with Virtual Formation: Presentation from ADW Special Needs Ministries and Catechesis available on You Tube
Tools for Teaching Children with Disabilities
Disability Book Resources
List of Books available to check out from the diocese pastoral center, contact Patty Origer, 515-237-5073 or email email@example.com
Directory of Catechesis: Fostering a Culture of Inclusion in Evangelization and Catechesis (ASL): Webinar with Presenter: Charleen Katra Description: Human diversity is of great importance for evangelization and catechesis. In Baptism, we become equal in dignity as necessary members of the Body of Christ and all persons, however limited, are capable of growth in holiness. Persons with disabilities, and their families, seek to be included in the full life of the Church. God’s vision of love calls us to bring about this reality. Come explore ways faith communities and the faithful can foster a culture of inclusion so that all members of the Body of Christ can live a sacramental life! (With ASL translation)
Every Family is Unique: Some have Greater Needs, presentation by Charleen Katra, Executive Director from NCPD to CLADD leaders on September 22, 2020
Adapted Faith Formation Lessons produced by the NCPD Council on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities.
Religious Education programs, Individualized Religious Education Plan and Registration Form Examples and Tools
Access and Inclusion Models for parish religious education programs.
Creating Meaningful Faith Formation Opportunities for children and youth with autism spectrum disorder worksheet.
Faith Formation Adaptive Catechesis Questionnaire for written or oral input from parents on best supports needed for their child.
Getting to Know Person: Parent Conversation Questions
Individualized Education Plan Example 1
Individualized Education Plan Example 2
Special Needs Registration Form: Form to help your child's catechist get to know your child with special needs.
To learn more about needs of children to participate in faith formation consider adding questions to your general registration forms for parents to provide information on needed supports. Questions can be worded such as:
- Does your child receive extra supports at school? If yes, please explain.
- "Is there anything we need to know that will set your child up for a successful experience at (Faith Formation, VBS, CYC, Youth Ministry, etc.)?"
- Could your child benefit from an accommodation during their catechetical formation? If so, please describe.
Allow Movement- Some children need to rock or move in order to focus or stay calm; allow this to happen! God put the wiggles there!
Every person’s brain is different. Not right or wrong, just different. Some people have great difficulty with sight, touch, movement, etc. People with autism often struggle with sensory input. They may need to wear headphones, sunglasses or carry a small soother (Fidget), or flap their hands, called “stimming” to try to block out sights and sounds. Doing so helps control anxious feelings. Walking around, spinning in a chair or chewing on items can also be ways to calm themselves down.
Sensory and Fidget Tool Resource listing possible examples and expectation sheet is available. One to purchase is a silicone rosary that can be used for prayer and sensory tool in faith setting!
For a variety of resource examples to utilize check out or order a Traveling Sensory Kit from the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston.
Twiddle Muffs: These are knitted muffs with items attached to keep dementia patient's or children's hands active and busy to help them stay focused or calm. They contain strands of textured ribbons, beads and various fabrics attached both inside and outside.
Teaching the Mass video
The Diocese of Wichita has recorded a Teaching the Mass video that is a great introduction to the Mass for individuals with disabilities or for anyone being introduced to the Mass for the first time.
Youth Leader Resources
Confirmation Sacramental Preparation Program in ASL is a program to inspire and engage parishioners preparing for Confirmation with this comprehensive new study program from the National Catholic Office for the Deaf and Our Sunday Visitor. The 12 video lessons of this 3-DVD set and manual bring the Sacrament of Confirmation to life, as Mary, St. Peter, and the saints walk the Confirmands through the Sacrament and show them how to put their faith into action — in Sign Language, spoken and captioned in English.
This program has also been utilized for an adaptive program for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Ending the Silence is a 50 minute presentation from NAMI Iowa designed to help young people and educators learn about the signs and symptoms of mental illness, how to recognize the early warning signs and the importance of acknowledging those warning signs.
Fostering Belonging modules from Boston College School of Theology and Ministry by Dr. Eric Carter. These modules can be used as a guide to an encore presentation as a conversation starter with members of a faith community. Each part of the presentation may be used separately, in combination with each other, or in a sequence over a period of time. The general nature of “Fostering Belonging” gives it broad application and makes it an excellent choice for a variety of groups. For example, consider using one or several of the segments with a parish council, a hospitality committee, catechists, Catholic school faculty, and high school religion classes. If you are looking for a service opportunity for a high school confirmation class, consider leading a discussion around Parts 3 and 5, and commit to implementing one recommendation to enhance belonging in the community.
Helping Teens with Anxiety, Stress and Depression by Roy Petitfils
Increasing Awareness in the Classroom and with Youth Groups includes a pack of information that provides suggestions for planning and implementing a disability awareness unit in your classroom, club, youth group, school or school district. Several additional new or alternate ideas are provided for each section. Resources are enclosed, including: a list of web-based resources, a children’s book list (available for download from the Disability Awareness Month CD), two coloring books (available for download from the CD), communication tips, language guidelines, accessibility survey, celebrity quiz, sign language alphabet, sign language riddles, Braille alphabet and Braille secret code activity.
Mental Wellness Basicsis an online education program developed by EVERFI, the education technology partner we already work with to bring the successful Prescription Drug Safety Program to Iowa and Illinois schools. In the Des Moines Area North, Roosevelt, Ankeny and Walnut creek schools have utilized it. It is an online course. is a digital resource that introduces middle and high school students to mental health education.
Mental Illness Awareness resources from the Diocese of Dubuque. From the website: "Below you will continue to find the resources originally posted as well as new ones as they become available, the links to the live stream and workshop recordings that are posted on the Diocese of Davenport YouTube channel, and the PowerPoint slides from all MIAW programs. You can still order St. Dymphna and St. John of God, patron saints of mental illness, prayer cards that are described below. You will also find news on our follow up to MIAW - Mental Health Awareness Month coming up in May, 2021 - as it becomes available."
So keep visiting this page for continual resourcing on mental health. Sts. Dymphna and John of God, pray for us.
Say It Out Loud - From NAMI, a downloadable, free discussion guide, videos and fact sheets for youth leaders who want to introduce the subject of mental illness to their youth groups. To download the tools and get more information, click here.
It is raising awareness by sharing information and starting conversations about mental health and is key in reducing stigma and increasing the likelihood that teens will seek mental health care when they need it. NAMI created Say it Out Loud to get teens talking about mental health. Say it Out Loud gives adults the tools they need to hold conversations about mental health with teens.
The Little Book of Big Emotions by Erika Hunter (note - limited availability - may need to purchase a used copy).