Years and years of being in the "Cult of Franklin," as my husband jokingly calls it, has conditioned me to a few core time management principles.  Of the strongest of these principles is the use of only one calendar.  Period.  End of story.  No questions asked.

I am, however, knowingly breaking with that principle, and I can hear my former trainers groaning in dismay.  I just can’t help myself!  I have literally waited years for a reason to need the Catechist Magazine Handbook & Planning Guide (Guide), and my wish has been granted.  I am so spoiled-I mean blessed.  The good folks over at Pflaum provided me with two complimentary copies BEFORE they knew I was going to shamelessly plug them via this blog; so, my thanks to Terry Cotting-Mogan, West Coast Regional Manager.  Once you read what this little treasure has inside its pages, you may understand why I am throwing that "one calendar" principle to the wind.

Deacon Bob always told me to start off with the good; so I’ll keep to that tradition although there really are only two minor problems I have with this tool- the first one being there’s no place to put my name!  Ooops. I think I just started with one of the "bad."  Ignore that.  Sorry, Deacon Bob.

At first glance, it is glossy and bright filled with multicultural pictures and nice-sized blocks in the calendar.  The Guide begins with Catholic Essentials-Apostle’s Creed, Precepts, etc.  It then moves into planning ("Maximize, Strategize") and includes a reproducible Lesson Plan worksheet that allows you to track your time (An absolute must for those of us with self-diagnosed OCPD!) and has two materials’ lists!  Quite nifty.

After that, there are two pages devoted to the "Students"-I do not like that word as we are catechists not teachers, but it’s easier.  You get an "Information Chart" and an "Attendance Log" that both span two pages.  Now I really like this because it’s much easier to keep this information in one place rather than making copies of class rosters.  Yes, it is extra work for you, but it is also a good way to review and learn the children’s names.  So get over it and just write them in!

Also, if any of your little angels has special needs or allergies, these items can be noted, privately, in your Guide as opposed to listing that information on rosters.  Yes, I have seen this in practice at some parishes.

After the "Student" (that word again!!) pages, there are twelve monthly calendars from September to August.  These are not just planning calendars.  These are PLANNING CALENDARS!  Each month features weekly Gospel Readings and questions for reflection, Feast Days, Holy Day of Obligation, and ideas for the classroom from environment to activities.  The ideas and such focus on the Liturgical Calendar and are peppered with a little bit of Catholic Social Teaching.

My only complaint:  can we have some lines, please?  I know.  I know. My OCPD is showing again.

Wanna know what had me grinning broadly in the calendar section?  They pay extra attention to the often overlooked Ordinary Time.  Thanks, guys!  I once did a workshop called "Ordinary Time is Not so Ordinary."  GMTA, huh?  That’s Great Minds Think Alike for you non-geeks out there.  If you only follow the ideas for decorating your Prayer Space, consider it $5.95 well spent!  I won’t even mention the incredibly creative idea they have for summer pre-planning.  I started something similar but for a different reason.

Guess I just mentioned it, huh?

We finish off the inside of the book with a one-page "Liturgical Year Banner" complete with a smattering of important dates.  It’s a great overview, but I’m not feeling the love.  I need my wheel, baby!

Then you flip it over to the back cover and experience one of those ahhhh moments as you read the Prayer Before Class.  Here is an excerpt:

Almighty God and Father,

students will begin to arrive soon.

Open wide my spiritual arms

as I welcome and embrace them.

Amen!  So…will I use it?  I don’t know.  Between working part-time, running my own home-based software business, homeschooling the kids, and LIVING, I just don’t know.  There are people busier than I for sure, but they are probably more organized.  J

I am going to pray about it and really try because it will add a needed dimension to my ministry.  You can’t remember everything and with this tool you don’t have to!  Let’s see what happens.

Happy planning and have a great year!

Copyright 2010 Dione Grillo