September 17, 2021

Evangelization & Catechesis Supplement

Teaching the faith leads to forgiveness, peace and a deeper love as a parent

(Editor’s note: While teaching and helping others to embrace a deeper appreciation of their Catholic faith, catechists throughout the archdiocese have found their own relationship with God has deepened through the experience. Here are several stories of that transformation.)

By John Shaughnessy

Gayle Schrank recalls the moment as a defining one in her life and her faith, a moment when God seemed to be challenging her.

“During one particular year, God nudged me to come closer to him on a more personal, more honest level,” Schrank recalls. “I was asked to teach first reconciliation, and I had not gone to reconciliation for some time.

“If I was going to teach this class, I knew I had to practice what I was teaching, so I went to reconciliation. I experienced a newness of forgiveness from God that I did not know was missing. From teaching about reconciliation, I was able to discover a deeper love and newfound peace.”

Schrank always tried to bring children to that same deeper love of God in her 15 years as a teacher of the faith at St. Mary Parish in Navilleton in southern Indiana. Her efforts as a catechist also had an impact on her faith and her role as a mother.

“I grew up in a Catholic home and attended Catholic schools throughout my elementary and high school years. Yet, I believe it was by teaching the faith that my own faith deepened,” she says. “I discovered the heart of God and learned so much about God through the hearts of those I was teaching. God was instructing me through the children I was instructing.

“In my early years as a catechist, I had three young children of my own. I recall feeling very grateful. God was preparing me. He knew I was going to need help as a parent. Our lives are in a way our classroom, and God was equipping me. He was helping me know him better, so I could live my life and my faith more intentionally at home.”

Those connections have continued to deepen in her present position as the pastoral associate of St. Mary Parish.

“Through my years as a catechist, and now through my work as pastoral associate, I am continually inspired,” she says. “I have seen so many people give so much of themselves, and I have a better understanding how each of us is a part of the body of Christ, and how each part is equally important.

“I am so thankful for the opportunity to teach about our Catholic faith. Through helping others on their faith journey, I have become increasingly aware of how God continually offers himself to me—through his Word, through the sacraments and through each person I get to walk with. Teaching the faith has been a blessing in my life.” †


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