Articles Under: Personal Witness Stories

Movement of the Holy Spirit Have you ever had the experience of walking into your classroom and, after careful observance, prayerfully deciding to pivot away from your planned lesson? This happened to me a few years ago. I had prepared diligently for a lesson on the Sacrament of the Eucharist. I was ready to use my short time with the students to teach them about the Real Presence and the wonderful effects of receiving the Blessed Sacrament. Yet, when I entered the room, I saw looks in their eyes and in their body language a reality that would test even... Read more
Few people impact us on such a deep level that it changes our life journey. For me, that influence happened in 1994. In August of that year, Barbara Morgan began the catechetics program at Franciscan University of Steubenville. I had the great blessing of being there when it started. She became a spiritual mother to me and infused in me a deep sense of purpose. In this article, I would like to share a few ways in which she did that with me. The First Class Barbara’s significance in my life was unparalleled, and I knew it would be profound... Read more
“Let the Children Come to Me” (Mt 19:14) I have not been a catechist for a very long time; however, I was recently privileged to see how the Word of God calls to little children. The week’s lesson was entitled “The Greatest Gift of All” and the subject was the Holy Eucharist. My student is my seven-year-old son, who is as busy as all seven-year-olds are. Most of what I teach seems to go in one ear and out the other because on any given day, when asked what he learned that day, my son inevitably replies with a very... Read more
Trusting God to Take the Lead A couple years ago, I volunteered as a first-grade catechist for my parish’s religious education program. This was before I was taking any classes or working in ministry, and I often struggled with how to present material to such a young age. The program we followed wasn’t much help; the kids I taught did not seem to connect to the content at all. I modified what I could and tried to make it fun, but often I felt my efforts were inadequate. One Sunday morning, I was teaching on the parable of the workers... Read more
In December of 2009, I was hospitalized for four days in two different hospitals with a blood platelet crisis. Platelets cause your blood to clot when necessary and I didn’t have enough of them (ITP). I had been fighting 3 separate occurrences of cancer since 2003, and while the cancer was no longer present, the treatments (including two stem cell transplants) had been so brutal that I was constantly in the hospital for something. This particular hospitalization occurred the week before Christmas and came on the heels of a deep inner darkness, a time of great difficulty both spiritually and... Read more
The Treasure We Give With the smell of Domino’s pepperoni pizza in the air and the sound of girly giggles that had not quite settled down, a group of 50 or so high school students crowded in small groups on the carpet floor of the parish center on a Sunday night, ready for another catechetical lesson in the St. Gertrude youth ministry program. As a Freshman in high school, I would carpool with friends 40 minutes across town just to be a part of this group. It wasn’t my home parish, but the faith was alive and well at St... Read more
“ Life is what happens when you are making other plans.” How often people have said this with a wry smile as they cope with an untimely interruption to their well-ordered (or not-so-ordered), scheduled events. This phrase came to mind again, when Editor James Pauley informed me that he was losing his battle with a persistent cold, which developed into the flu…just as his editorial for this issue was due. So, what do we do when life “interrupts” us? Instead of mourning the loss of our plans, we find God’s plan in the here and now of reality. A little... Read more
God’s Work in Small Moments As a teacher, the most rewarding thing to witness is the moment when a student “gets it.” It is these small moments, usually few and far between, that makes it all worth it. These moments are even more memorable when they come from a student that you would least expect, or a student who struggles in your class. One of my freshman students, “Maggie,” was one of those students I couldn’t quite figure out right away. She would participate every once in awhile and seemed knowledgeable with the content but was mostly withdrawn and failed... Read more
Do You Believe in Me or Not? When I was a student teacher of Grade 12 Philosophy Religion and Grade 11 World Religions classes, I felt inspired to have the students in both classes do an assignment that would involve them spending time before the Blessed Sacrament. The emphasis for the Philosophy class was more on whether or not they can know God exists, as we were covering St. Thomas Aquinas’ Five Proofs for the Existence of God at the time. For the World Religions class, the emphasis was more on communicating with God, as we were covering meditation. The... Read more
I have a pretty realistic looking human skull on my desk, positioned to face my high school students. It’s constantly “looking” at them. I acquired the skull years ago from an old classroom closet and placed it on my desk. Students immediately started to notice the skull and asked, “Mr. Bitting, why do you have a skull on your desk?” I responded with Sirach 7:36 , “In whatever you do, remember your last days, and you will never sin.” I also tell them about the Latin phrase memento mori (remember your death) and show them images of saints depicted with... Read more