Catechism, schmatechism and practicing what I preach


by Rachel Dykoski | March 15, 2009 • Today’s Sunday March 15th. And I was late for Sunday school – again. We worship at St. Joan of Arc in south Minneapolis. During Advent, before Christmas in a moment of weakness or verve I decided to try my hand at teaching Catholic Catechism to second graders.

Rachel Says – Thoughts, from the political to the personal, by Rachel Dykoski

A night out with the girls, contemporaries I rarely see nowadays was sorely needed. I didn’t stay for the whole party, causing one friend to tease, “Catechism – Schmatechism!” The late hours I kept yesterday, did a lot to my sunny disposition this morning.

Side-stepping annoyed, weary parents waiting for any teacher so they could leave, I launched into hellos with my class. Today’s lesson was about being good neighbors to others; being good citizens, samaritans. Thank goodness the SJA staff is great at making sure volunteers like me have a step-by-step lesson plan so we keep the kids engaged. And they learn the tenets necessary to celebrate their first communion, which they all will in a couple of months!

We discussed the bible stories in our book, and shared our experiences with what it means to ‘stick your neck out’ for another person. My mother was a teacher who spent a lot of time allowing her students the opportunity to share their stories. Where she taught, children witnessed violence and experienced poverty 24/7. Story time was when the kids got to vent and clear their heads.

We all experience varying levels of loss and injury. Thankfully, the youth attending SJA are rich in support from their families and this faith community. Using today’s story time, the children articulated how they help others who are hurting and people in need. And their willingness to help protect those more vulnerable than themselves.

During our family’s car ride home from church, my husband slammed on the brakes to avoid a squirrel. It was his basic impulse to avoid taking the life of a helpless creature. His actions were noble and true to himself.

But I didn’t take it that way. As we coasted down our block at 20 mph, our residential street that is filled with cars parked on each side, it’s hard to avoid anything that darts in front of you without a harsh use of the brakes. Our seat belts worked beautifully. But the kids were scared, sore. And I was livid.

I was angry that my hubby chose to save the squirrel. The fall-out from his choice was red marks on the kids’ shoulders, anxiousness and crying. I got mad at my husband for doing a just thing for another, because it caused momentary pain.

In less than 2 hours I had abandoned the day’s lesson. I pounced on my husband’s intentions with the tenacity of a rabid mother hen. I yelled. I confronted and I cursed the situation.

I’m not sure if the woodland creature survived. But our kids did. My husband’s feelings did. And I’m left reviewing my catechism and praying that the next time I’ll be a good neighbor to all creatures I encounter, husband unit included.