Editor's Notes: The Sower and Catechist Formation

Authored by Colleen Rainone in Issue #35.1 of The Sower

Status message

This is a free online article available for non-subscribers. Start your subscription today!

While this article was true of The Sower while it was in print, it is now true of The Catechetical Review and Catechetics.com, which has replaced The Sower.

Since its founding by Canon Francis Drinkwater of the Archdiocese of Birmingham, England in 1919, The Sower’s consistent aim has been the ongoing faith formation of the laity, and most particularly of catechists. As a chaplain serving in World War I, Drinkwater was astonished to discover how little of the faith his Catholic soldiers retained from their childhood instruction[1] and, through this experience, discovered his second calling: that of forming catechists.

As has been mentioned often in past issues, the Sower is Christ himself. Our role as catechists is to “till and nurture the soil” in those we teach, so his Word can take root and grow to maturity, thus bringing all of us “not only in touch but in communion, in intimacy, with Jesus Christ…”[2] The Sower catechetical journal provides insight, inspiration and “tools for tilling.”

For decades that legacy continued in the print medium of The Sower, primarily in the United Kingdom. In recent years, however, modern digital technology has allowed The Sower to extend its global reach to catechetical leaders and scholars, catechists and parents who understand and cherish their catechetical vocations. Now, subscribers not only receive quarterly print issues every year, but they also receive online access to issues dating back to 2007, with articles (some in Spanish) that they may download and print at no extra cost for catechetical purposes.

All New TheSowerReview.org

We encourage our readers to visit our new website at TheSowerReview.org, designed to more easily assist in the formation of catechists, including families. While the website itself provides a video tutorial of how to subscribe and use its different features, here are some highlights of the more practical features.

Search, Download & Print Articles

Anyone can browse the website, search for articles, and read brief article summaries, but only paid, logged-in subscribers can read, print or download the articles in their entirety. (There are a few “free sample” articles that non-subscribers may print.) Searching for articles may be done in several ways. Directly beneath the Other Resources tab is a “Search Articles” field, where people may type in a particular subject (eg: confirmation, RCIA, grace) or author name, then click on the Search button.

You may also do a search by using the Articles or Issues tabs. Under Issues, clicking on a particular issue will lead to a list of every article in that issue—each of which is then accessible with a click. Additionally, clicking on any author’s name will make available a listing of that author’s articles across The Sower issues.

When you find an article to print or share via email, go to your web browser’s print option and simply print the document. If, for example, you want to email the article “Can Fathers Be Catechists?” to your students’ families, first save the article as a PDF, then attach to the email. Please be advised that there is a permission clause on each of the articles that grants permission for articles to be used at no charge for catechetical purposes only. To reprint the article in another publication, permission must be requested from the editor of The Sower.

Learning through Art

Pope Francis wrote recently that “a formation in the via pulchritudinis (way of beauty) ought to be part of our effort to pass on the faith.”[3] The Art Notes and Learning through Art series provide expertly developed opportunities to teach the faith with stunningly beautiful and intriguing images. This series is a type of "cross-curriculum" of art history and catechesis, where pre-teen to adult students learn about the artist, the art form and the lesson of faith presented in the work of art. Each print issue's centerfold has a full-color spread of art from a particular time period.

In the past, some teachers have laminated the centerfold in order to present the art more effectively in class. Now, more and more catechists are using computer projection technology to make it easier to see and learn. So subscribers can also go online to back issues of the magazines they have missed and utilize many different works of art to teach the faith or to use as a focal point for a time of prayer and meditation, for example, at the beginning of class.

At the top of each Art Notes and Learning through Art webpage you will see: To view the artwork on a smartboard click here. This will then open the artwork in a new window on your browser so you can utilize digital projection technology. The text may be reproduced in order to facilitate group studies.

Spanish Translations

Responding to the growing demand for Spanish catechetical material, we have already translated almost 90 articles into Spanish. We would appreciate hearing from more of our bi-lingual subscribers. If you see another English article that you would like translated into Spanish, please let us know and we will add it to the list to be translated.

Other Resources

Whether a subscriber or not, another useful feature is the Other Resources tab, which provides of drop-down menu of “free links” to resources such as:

  • Official Church Teaching, which includes the Catechism of the Catholic Church, General Directory for Catechesis, Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, Documents of the Second Vatican Council and more;  
  • Scripture translations with Daily Liturgical Readings with video reflections by the USCCB;
  • Family Catechesis with an interactive family catechism;
  • Youth Ministry with a listing of retreat and conference organizations;
  • RCIA with a downloadable PDF of RCIA from the Liturgy Office for England;
  • Catechist Formation with links to certificate programs;
  • Adult Faith Formation including apologetics, Scripture study & evangelization.

You may consider incorporating some of these resources into your own personal research and writing, faith formation program or to share with families or fellow parishioners. 

Getting Started

If you are already a paid subscriber, you just need to go to the website’s login box and click on >Retrieve your password and fill in the required fields. A password will be sent to you.

Some universities and diocesan institutes provide subscriptions for their students as part of their course work. These students may request online access as well, but will have to wait until their institution verifies their enrollment in the catechetical program, before receiving online access.


We welcome any feedback on the new website: questions or suggestions, troubleshooting issues, and even compliments! We are excited about the benefits this new online component adds to your Sower subscription. We hope that it assists and serves you in the indispensable work of evangelization and catechesis, which you have so generously embraced.  May God continue to bless you abundantly!

TheSowerReview.org was developed/designed and is hosted by CarsonW.com. The Sower’s management would like to give special thanks to Carson Weber for his time and dedication to the development of our new website.


[1] Liam Kelly, Catechesis Revisited: Handing on the Faith Today, Mawah, New Jersey, Paulist Press, and London by arrangement with Darton, Longman and Todd Ltd, 2000, p. 35.

[2] Catechesi Tradendae, 5.

[3] Evangelii Gaudium, 167.

This article is originally found on pages 4-5 of the printed edition.

This article is from The Sower and may be copied for catechetical purposes only. It may not be reprinted in another published work without the permission of Maryvale Institute. Contact sower@maryvale.ac.uk

Articles from the Most Recent Issue

Editor's Reflections: Leisure – God's Plan for Us
By Colleen Rainone
Free “ 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... Read more
The Spirit of Leisurely Catholicism
By James Gaston
Free When I happened to mention to my wife that I was writing an essay about leisure, the following dialogue took place: Wife: “You can’t do that.” Me: “Why not?” Wife: “You don’t know anything about it. You’re working at something all the time.” Me: “That is somewhat true, but leisure isn’t really about what one does when one is not working. It’s... Read more
El espíritu católico del descanso
By James Gaston
Introducción Cuando le comenté a mi esposa que estaba escribiendo un ensayo acerca del descanso, se suscitó el siguiente diálogo: Esposa -No lo puedes hacer.- Yo -¿Por qué no?- Esposa -No sabes nada acerca de eso. Estás siempre trabajando en algo.- Yo -Hay algo de cierto en lo que dices, pero el descanso no trata precisamente de lo que se hace... Read more


Watch Tutorial Videos

We've put together several quick and easy tutorial videos to show you how to use this website.

Watch Now