Catechists Leader Resources

cartoon with Jesus and 4 children saying "Let these little ones come unto me." with title Jesus original child advocate.

 Adaptive Faith Formation Curriculum and Programs
  • Adaptive Finding God program from LoyolaPress 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. (Materials 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.

      Capuchin College

     4121 Harewood Rd., NE

     Washington, D.C. 20017

    email Father Bill Gillum               

  • Parish Catechetical program resources from National Catholic Partnership on Disabilities

Adaptive Faith Formation Lessons

Recommended Catechetical Publisher Resources or second listing of publisher resources.

Catechetical 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.

  • Special Religious Development Archdiocese of Chicago (SPRED) catechesis leads one to develop a sense of the sacred, a sense of the Church, a sense of the Christ and a sense of God. The process used helps each one to enter into communion with Jesus Christ within the Christian community of faith. Sacramental initiation takes place according to the personal rhythm of each one. It is presumed that as there are different modes of intellectual functioning, there are different modes of faith.

  • 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.

       CGS and All Abilities Podcast:  A podcast where Trinka Hamel joins The Good Shepherd and the Child Podcast to share her experience with experimental work with children and young people of different abilities using the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd model.  She has years of experience both professionally and in the atrium to share with us. 

     Parish Resource Guide for Welcoming Children with Disabilities "Recognizing the Gift":  This manual will increase your awareness of what is needed for a successful experience. It will help you learn how to welcome and support the family, observe the child’s abilities, gather information from the regular school setting, including the Individual Educational Plan (IEP), understand the particular disability, review and choose simplified and appropriate curriculum, and finally, identify and support a catechist

      Training courses on Montessori Medical Partnership for Inclusion are available:

Montessori 4 Inclusion Montessori Medical Partnership for Inclusion

Understanding Interventions Online Course --2023 --Montessori 4 Inclusion


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
                                                                                             women with gray hair and bowed head and hands praying
  • 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!
  • 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
  • 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 Disability Book Resources
  • The 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.
  • The Catholic Children's Bible, Revised
 Catechist Adaptive and Training Resources

           1.   Adolescence and Autism

           2. Five Tips for Teaching Children with Autism

           3. Hints to Setting up a Good Classroom

           4. How to Welcome, Include, and Catechize Children with Autism and other Special Needs book is available.

           5. Recognizing and Using a Preferred Interest in the Classroom

           6. Teaching Students with Autism in a Catholic Setting book is available

  • 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.
  • 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. 
 Religious Education Registration Question Form Examples

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:

  1. Does your child receive extra supports at school? If yes, please explain.

 2. "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.)?"

3. Could your child benefit from an accommodation during their catechetical formation? If so, please describe.  

4. Anything else that we should know to help your child have a joyful experience?

5. Is there anything we should know about your child to help make the experience the most positive?

Sensory Fidget Tools and Social Narratives for Going to Mass
  • 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.

 Youth Leader and School 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.
  • Faith in an Anxious World:  This is 4 week high school curriculum to help open channels of communication between young people and their peers, their parents, and the church. Program to empower you with language and tools to respond to young people in your care, making anxiety a part of conversations about discipleship and holistic, faithful living.
  • 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. 
  • Friends Series from Ability Ministry for persons with disabilities.  It includes 3 pack curriculum on the topics of How to be a Good Friend, Neighbors and More than Friends. They can also be purchased individually.  More than Friends is a Christian curriculum designed to discuss romantic relationships for persons with disabilities.  This pivotal series will give you the tools to equip your friends with how to overcome isolation when presented with opportunities for friendship.
  • FRIENDS WHO CARE® is a disability awareness curriculum from Easterseals, It is designed to help children better understand what it means to live with a disability, and to encourage children to accept differences. It explains what differing disabilities are, and provides hands-on activities to help children learn how people with disabilities live independent, everyday lives.
  • 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 Healthcare and Awareness resources from Archdiocese of Dubuque, Catholic Charities: Mental Healthcare and Awareness prayer, videos and reflection questions for kids 7-12th grade, parishioners, Parish Leader Committees and college students.  Mental Health Awareness for kids K-6th grade resources of prayer, scripture, videos and reflection questions.  These resources are for parents and faith formation leaders to talk about Mental illness and mental health, to help children understand what it is using age appropriate language.  For example:  For children it might be helpful to explain that just like our bodies get sick with flu, chicken pox, cold, our brain and mental part of who we are can also get sick. When this happens we call it “mental illness”. Framing it in this way can help children better understand that mental illness is like being sick and that, just like being sick, there are treatments and hope for recovery. Since some mental illness is not “curable” but people with treatment can live long and fulfilling lives the comparison of mental illness to diabetes can be helpful.
  • 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.
  • 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.

For additional information contact Patty Origer, Persons with Disability Ministry Coordinator,  phone 515-237-5073.