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Janet Schaeffler

By Mary Lou Putrow


Janet Schaeffler (b. 1944) is a Dominican Sister of Adrian, Michigan.  She has been a parochial school teacher and a parish Director of Religious Education and Adult Faith Formation.   She has also been an Associate Director of Faith Formation and Catechesis for the Archdiocese of Detroit.  She is currently a consultant in Catechetics and Adult Faith Formation.


Biography and contributions to Christian Education:

Christian Smith in his book, Soul Searching: the Religious and Spiritual Life of American

Teenagers notes that parents get what they are. In other words, the faith of adolescents is lived and practiced in the way that the parents live and practice the faith.

 This could not be truer in the case of Janet Schaeffler.  Janet was born on April 21, 1944, the second of six siblings, in Detroit and raised on the city’s east side. The family was the typical Catholic family of the era.   The strong religious orientation of both parents melded into a marriage and family life marked by a belief in God, church attendance, commitment to religious practices, Catholic schooling and involvement in parish activities. The family belonged to St. Jude parish in the city. Here her father belonged to the Holy Name Society and was a member of  the Parish Council; her mother sang in the parish choral group and both engaged  in scouting and Camp Fire girl activities. Janet attended the parish grade school and Dominican High School. As Janet and her siblings moved to high school, her parents continued their active engagement in parent-school activities.  Janet followed in her parents’ footsteps and also became very involved in parish and school activities. She recalls a question posed by Dolores Curran a number of years ago: where did your  faith come from?  Janet had the answer. It was much more than the environment and instruction of the Catholic school. Family prayer was part of the regular routine; the recitation of the family rosary was a given; the children were accustomed to being blessed by their father. Faith and faith practices were deeply embedded in the Schaeffler household.The immediate family and the religious environment were not the only Catholic influences in Janet’s life. The extended family of school and parish also played a role in her religious formation. 

Home life was happy and normal, punctuated occasionally by the common tensions and disagreements that are part of a large family. 

With such a strong religious orientation, it came as no surprise that Janet would choose at eighteen to devote her whole life to the work of the church as a Dominican sister.  In 1962 with full parental support Janet sought admittance into the community of women who had taught and influenced her for her twelve years of school, the Dominican Sisters of Adrian whose apostolate at that time primarily was teaching.  After her profession, Janet’s first assignments were to a parochial school.

She had been prepared for a teaching career at Siena Heights College and later in graduate programs at John Carroll University and Michigan State University.  She was later to complete a M.A. degree in Religious Studies from the University of Detroit.

An experience that helped Janet in her teaching was a particular relationship she had with her young nieces and nephews. Janet had left home while her own younger siblings were still growing up.  That deprivation, she conjectures, is the reason why, as an adult she has made an effort to be particularly close to her eight nieces and nephews and four grand nieces and nephews. Janet describes her deep relationship with them as “unique and keeping her grounded in real life”.  Most profoundly, this relationship has revealed to her aspects of faith and experiences of God which she would not have discovered on her own.

Elementary teaching in schools of Nevada, Ohio and Michigan was to become her full time position over the next seven years. A number of parishes in the Archdiocese of Detroit began to opt for a quality religious education program to serve all the children of the parish. The position of Director of Religious Education began to develop and Janet was among the first to be tapped for this position.  She served three parishes of the Archdiocese of Detroit in this capacity for a total of twenty-five years. 

When the Archdiocese was looking for a leader in their Central Offices of Catechetics/ Faith Formation, Janet applied and was chosen to be an Associate Director until the time when restructuring changed the configuration of services and Janet felt she could better serve the People of God in different circumstances. However, during her six years in that capacity Janet became well known for her promotion of adult catechesis and moved from the position of Associate Director to Director of Adult Faith Formation, a position she held for six and a half additional years. With her interest and expertise in adult faith development Janet has closed the circle of womb to tomb religious development. 

In addition to the work her positions demanded of her, Janet has taught as an adjunct at St. Mary College in Orchard Lake, Michigan and at Siena Heights University in Adrian, Michigan. She also serves on the faculty of the Cloverdale Outreach Education Program of the Graduate Theological Foundation in Indiana.

Certainly Janet is well known for her teaching skills but has been recognized for her writing skills as well.  It was the latter that merited an invitation to write a monthly column for the Catechist magazine, a task in which she still engages today.  For twelve years (1997-2009) she also produced first a weekly and then a monthly article for the Detroit archdiocesan paper, The Michigan Catholic.

A thread that runs through all of Janet’s work is her commitment to issues of social justice.

Whether it be formation topics for catechists or major presentations, articles or books, Janet reveals a passion for justice.  Respect for the rights of all persons, value for the lives that have been entrusted to us, the responsibility to share our God-given gifts, peace-making and reconciliation, promotion of family values are just a few issues on her social justice agenda. The manner in which she challenges readers and listeners is not the manner of a promoter of a single issue but rather in the manner of integrating justice in all life issues.

Today, freed from the daily office work schedule, Janet ministers as a consultant/presenter in Catechesis and Adult Faith Formation.  Her venues are varied: retreats, days of reflection, workshops, consultative practices, creator and publisher of GEMS (Great Endeavors Mined and Shared). GEMS is a monthly newsletter from an ongoing study of best practices in adult faith formation. She is the facilitator of online courses for the Virtual Learning Center for Faith Formation at the University of Dayton and for C21 (Church in the 21st Century) at Boston College.

Professionally she has been and is involved in numerous organizations:

            National Conference of Catechetical Leadership (NCCL)

                        NCCL Adult Formation Committee

                        NCCL Elected Officer/Executive Committee/Board of Directors (2006-2009)

                        NCCL Chair of Annual Conference Committee (2003-2005)

            National Association of Lay Ministry (NALM)

            Detroit Society of Catechetical Leaders (DSCL)

            Advisory Board Our Sunday Visitor (1985-1989)

            U.S. National Council of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) Task Force for writing of                                          Guidelines for Doctrinally Sound Religious Education Materials (1988-1990)

            Society of St. Vincent DePaul, Spirituality and Formation Committee (2002-2004)

            Province Coordinator for NCCL Catechist Formation – Echoes of Faith Plus (1998-


            Review Committee USCCB: Lectionary of Masses for Children (Draft) (1990)

            Contributor Living Waters Teacher Manual Grade One.  Tabor Publishing, 1992.

            NACARE Committee for Leader’s Guide for Our Hearts Were Burning Within Us

                        Leader’s Guide (1999)

            Evaluator of First Communion Programs for Modern Liturgy (1997, April).

The speaking engagements listed below attest to the coast to coast opportunities for the reception of her words and expertise:

Fashion Me A People Conference, Orlando, Florida, January 2012

Advent Retreat, Weber Center, Adrian, Michigan, December 2011

Diocesan Advent Day of Reflection, Diocese of Youngstown, Ohio, December 2011

Adult Faith Formation Workshop, Archdiocese of Washington DC, November 2011

Three-day retreat for DREs, Archdiocese of Washington DC, November 2011

Ohio Catholic Educational Association Conference, October 2011

Common Conference, Diocese of Lansing, September 2011

Workshops on Being a Welcoming Parish, Archdiocese of Washington, DC, June 2011

Parish Lenten retreat for parish at the University of Georgia, Athens, GA, April 2011

Diocesan Adult Faith Formation Conference, Diocese of Baton Rouge, November 2010

New England States Adult Faith Formation Conference, Worcester, MA, August, 2010

Faculty for Theology Institute (degree program), Diocese of Little Rock, AK (2011 -

Adult Faith Formation Conference for the dioceses of Wisconsin, Green Bay, April 2010

Annual retreat for catechists, diocese of Gary, IN, September 2009

Diocesan Catechetical Conference, Diocese of Grand Rapids, 2009, 2010

“If You Build it, They Will Come:  29 Ways to do Adult Faith Formation in 2009” -                     Adult Faith Formation Conference, Archdiocese of Philadelphia, January 24, 2009

Keynote Speaker at Faith Formation:  Visioning for the Future (Indiana Conference of                                Catechetical Leadership, November 18-20, 2008)

Retreat leader for annual retreat for DREs of Southwest Cluster, Chicago (January                                     2008)

Keynote Speaker at Corpus Christi, TX diocesan catechetical conference (September 2004)

Retreat leader for St. Mary’s Retreat Center, Oxford, MI (2003- present)

Retreat leader for the diocese of Kalamazoo ministry formation program (2002-2008)

Presenter at MANS Conference  (Michigan Association of Non-Public Schools),                           October 1990, Detroit; October 1997, Detroit; October 2000, Grand Rapids;                                     October 2003, Detroit

            Round table Presenter for National Conference of Catechetical Leadership, April 1996,                             Detroit;  April 1998, Milwaukee;  April 1999, Indianapolis;  April 2010, Las                          Vegas  

            Social Ministry topics through the Institute for Ministry, Sacred Heart Major          

                   Seminary, 2000

Catechist Formation topics through the Institute for Ministry, Sacred Heart Major                                    Seminary, (1986 –2009)

Presenter at East Coast Conference on Religious Education, Washington, D.C.,                                 

      February, 1989 and various diocesan conventions throughout the US

Workshop presenter for Silver Burdett Ginn, Inc.       

Workshop presenter at Spectrum, Archdiocese of Detroit, in 1980, 1982, 1984,     

   1987, 1988, 1989


·      RCL Benziger Symposium on the Future of Catechesis, June 2008, Baltimore

·      ACTA Symposium on Adult Faith Formation with Young Adults in Today’s        Church, July 2007, CTU, Chicago

·      US Delegate to International Forum on Adult Religious Education – 9th International                      Consultation – Sierra Madre, California (February 20-25, 2005)

·      Delegate of religious educators to visit Hungary, Poland, China, and                                    Czech Republic for the Citizen Ambassador Program of People to People                                 International, October 1996

If asked what Janet Schaeffler’s major contribution to the field of religious education would be, persons agree that she is best able to translate the content material of religious education to practical everyday usage.  Janet’s supervisor while working in the Archdiocese of Detroit Catechetical Office was Maureen O’Reilly whose testimony further explicates Janet’s gifts to the Christian community. “She honestly respects each person with their unique charism and calling, and draws from her years of experience with every age group in tailoring a formation session that meets them where they are.   She approaches such gatherings not from the viewpoint that she is about to unlock a treasure trunk of personally-gained knowledge for them, but rather to spark the insights, questions, experiences and faith already present in those gathered.  One might liken Janet’s gifts to that of an excellent weaver, who brings together in a creative way the many strands of lives with whom she meets.”

A co-worker, Carol Jadach adds further insights into Janet’s contributions to the field of religious education.  “I have had the privilege of working with Janet for over twenty years. I think that one of Janet’s major accomplishments lies in her willingness and ability to mentor colleagues in an informal way. Many people who have worked with Janet, both locally and across the country, have been shaped by her thoughts and writings, grown from her ministry to and with them. Janet has always provided help and guidance when needed. She fostered relationships that enable people to feel comfortable seeking her advice and input. She continues to this day sending cards and notes for birthdays, anniversaries, and many other occasions to all those she has come in contact with through the years. She is well-known for sharing home-baked cookies and small loaves of nut bread with her immediate colleagues, showing her support and encouragement for their ministry. Janet’s mentorship cannot be measured in the books she has written or the positions she has held, but in the hearts and minds of her colleagues.”

Although her arenas of influence have been vast there is one area that Janet’s efforts have brought to the fore and that is the area of adult catechesis. Within the Catholic tradition throughout the last century official documents and catechetical leaders have proposed that “The  catechesis of adults …  is the principal form of catechesis because it is addressed to persons who have the greatest responsibilities and capacity to live the Christian message in its fully developed form.” (Catechesi tradendae, #43; also quoted in the National Directory for Catechesis, #48A)

The National Catechetical Directory #188 also has stressed the privileged place of adult catechesis.  “Because of its importance and because all other forms of catechesis are oriented in some way to it, the catechesis of adults must have high priority at all levels of the Church.” (also quoted in The National Directory for Catechesis, #48A)  Through her presentations, workshops, seminars, classes, etc. Janet has brought the above directives into the realm of active consciousness in parishes and in the efforts of catechetical leaders.

It is interesting to note that when asked about influences in her own life, Schaeffler does not name a book or a teacher or a theologian or religious educators but a different group of persons who crossed her ministerial pathways. They are the children and young people who came alive with excitement about their religion classes.  They are also the many parents whose deep faith and strong desire to keep growing in their faith life encouraged her own and moved her to walk with all people on their faith journey.

There is no measuring rod adequate to the depth and expanse of Janet’s influence in the Catholic catechetical/religious education arena. Her coast to coast travels, her numerous articles and invitations to organizations defy quantitative expression but attest to the qualitative character of all her efforts.  Today she continues to draw from the deep well of life, study, prayer and experience to feed those whose life agenda parallels her own.



(1998). How You can Teach Your Child Generosity.  Saginaw, MI: Diocese of


(2009). Creative Connections for Catechists from A to Z: Catholic Social Teaching. Mystic, CT:

            Twenty-third Publications.

(2011). Advent – an amazing journey: everyday reflections, practices and prayers.

(2011). Prayer from A to Z for catechists and those they teach.  Mystic, CT: Twenty-third



(1975, May/June). GGG: A summer program.  Religion Teacher's Journal (9)4, 10-12.

(1975, November). Reconciliation is growth.  Catechist 9(3), 10-11.

(1976, May/June). A children's liturgy of the Word.  Religion Teacher's Journal (9)4, 31-32.

(1976, May). A summer program asks: what is a parish?  Catechist 9(6), 10-12.

(1977, February). New look at the parish mission.  Today's Parish 9(2), 13-15.

(1977, November). Preparing for Christ's second coming.  Catechist 11(3), 17.

(1977, November). Parishes can still say: the family is alive and well.  Pastoral Life

            26(10), 14-19.

(1977, November/December). An exciting way to find Christmas in the Bible. Religion

            Teacher’s Journal 11(7), 8-10.

(1978, November/December). Parish advent activities.  Today's Parish 10(8), 14-16.

(1979, February). Approaches: Families find experiences of God in everyday living.  PACE 9,


(1979, March). Student activities for holy week.  Religion Teacher's Journal 13(2), 6-7.   

(1979, October). Ministry of letter writing.  Today's Parish 11(7), 17-19.

(1980, January). First Communion: a family affair.  Religion Teacher’s Journal 13(8), 8-9. 

(1980, March).  Reflections on team ministry.  Pastoral Life 29(3), 30-34.

(1981, October). Thousand families celebrate "We are family" week-end.  Today’s Parish

            13(7), 3.

(1981, November/December) Liturgy Captures Spirit of St. Nick.  Today’s Parish 13(8), 30-31.

(1981). Memorial day prayer service.  Service: Resources for Pastoral Ministry 2, 82-83.

(1981). The end of the school year: prayer service.  Service: Resources for Pastoral Ministry 2,                39-40.

(1981). Parish liturgy: for the opening of the school year.  Service: Resources for Pastoral            Ministry 3, 60-65.

(1981). Family workshop for advent.  Service: Resources for Pastoral Ministry 4, 61-63.

(1981). Immaculate Conception: a prayer service. Service: Resources for Pastoral Ministry 4,


(1982). Feast of the Epiphany: a Eucharistic Liturgy.  Service: Resources for Pastoral Ministry    1, 42-44.

(1982). Reconciliation prayer service for primary children.  Service: Resources for Pastoral          Ministry 3, 38.

(1982 ). Lenten celebration of Reconciliation for intermediate children.  Service: Resources for

            Pastoral Ministry 3, 48-50.

(1982, April). Gifts from the sea: reminders of our ministry.  Catechist (15(7), 39-40.

(1982, April/May). Together we gave thanks.  Religion Teacher’s Journal 16(3), 72.

1982, July/August). Affirmation: a gift to our students. Catechist 16(1), 10-11.

(1982, October). How to journey with a journal, Religion Teacher’s Journal 16(5), 18-19.

(1982, November/December). Blessing for parents of young children. Today’s Parish 14(8), 22-


(1982, November/December). A family advent game. Catechist 16(4), 24.

(1983/1984). Finding our god through wonder. PACE 14. 1-3.

(1983, January). Ways to celebrate (First Communion). Religion Teacher’s Journal, 16(8), 37.

(1983, February). Families think about Lent. Catechist 17(1), 19-20.

(1983, September). Let us pray with images. Catechist 17(2), 40-41.

(1984, March). Praying is saying thanks. Religion Teacher’s Journal 18(2), 15-17.

(1984, July/August). Helping students "own" their parishes.  Catechist  19(1),  22-23.

(1984, September). Liturgy cards.  Catechist 19(2) 5-28.

(1985, March). Invite families to celebrate Easter.  Catechist 19(7), 25-27.

 (1986, January). A Reconciliation prayer service for parents.  Catechist 19(5), 30-31.

 (1986, February). Celebrate Mardi Gras: a prelude to Lent.  Catechist 19(6), 42-43. 

(1986, March). Prayer for A to Z.  Religion Teacher’s Journal 20(2), 8-10.

(1986, April/May). Preparing children to renew the earth.  Catechist 19(8), 32-33.

(1986, October). Adult education: in the process is the growth.  Today's Parish 18 (7), 5-7.

(1986, November/December). Advent, a time to think about giving oneself.  Catechist 20(4),


(1987, December). The planning process involves everyone.  PACE 18, 96-97.

(1987, January). Family involvement in sacramental preparation: creating the best possible

            partnership.  Catechist 20(5), 22-23.

(1987, January). First Communion pointers.  Religion Teacher’s Journal 20(7), 16-17.

(1987, February 20). Parents' role is essential in teaching about Sacrament. The Michigan

            Catholic, 3.

(1987, March). Lord, teach us to pray.  Religion Teacher's Journal 20(8), 4-6.

(1987, April/May). Publish! publish! publish!  Catechist 20(8), 57-58.

(1987, April 12). How will you mark Lent's end?  The Michigan Catholic, 3.

(1987, June-August). Saying thank you to teachers.  Church Teachers, 27.

(1987, October). Getting to know our parish church.  Catechist 21(3), 32.

(1987, October). Give peace a chance.  Catechist 21(3), 20.

(1988, March). Jesus with us today: a parish program. PACE 18, 188-189.

(1988, March) Teach your students how to interview: a learning technique that reaches

            beyond the classroom.  Catechist 21(7), 22-23.

(1988, April/May). Family involvement in sacramental preparation: the six C's.  Catechist

            21(8), 28-30.

(1988, April/May). End the year at prayer.  Religion Teacher’s Journal 22(3), 32-33.

(1988, July/August). Make a covenant with parents.  Catechist 22(1), 11-12.

( 1988, October). Competition: Christian or not?  Religion Teacher’s Journal 22(5), 8-9. 

(1989, March). When you've run out of things to do: tips for using those extra moments. 

            Catechist 22(7), 37-38.          

(1989, April). Easter: not just a day, but a season.  Catechist 22(8), 30.

(1990, Fall) Revisioning the DRE, a review symposium:  The DRE as faith companion.  The

            Living Light 21(7), 63-65.

(1989, November/December). Kids say the deepest things.  Catechist 23(4), 14-15.

(1989, November/December). A thankful advent season.  Catechist 23(4), 20-21.

(1991). Reconcile and rejoice: an evening of reconciliation for married couples.  PACE 20,


(1991, January). Questions and answers for first Communion parents.  Catechist 24(5), 19-21.

(1991, March). Called to care for our home.  Catechist 24(7), 26-28.

(1991, March). Read one gospel ... from the beginning to the end.  Catechist 24(7), 34-36.

(1991, April/May). Shared responsibility in action.  Today’s Parish,

(1991, April/May). Celebrate wonder.  Catechist 24(8), 28-29.

(1991, April/May). Give summer "care kits."  Religion Teacher's Journal 25(3), 31.

(1992, January). Eucharist: a comfort and a challenge. Religion Teacher’s Journal 25(7),


(1992, February). Adding in and giving up: a Pre-Lenten workshop for families. Catechist

            25(5), 24.

(1992, February). A family contest for lent.  Catechist 25(5), 22-23.

(1992, March). We honor God's Word.  Religion Teacher’s Journal, 26(2), 7-8.

(1992, October). Questions are good: an adult education model.  PACE 22, 34-36.

(1992, November/December). Gather your families around the Jesse tree.  Catechist 26(3), 12-


(1993, February). Make the world brighter: a family Lenten workshop.  Catechist 26(5), 23-


(1994, April/May). How did we do?  Catechist 27, 24-27.

(1994, September), Teaching the whole child (Part 1).  Religion Teacher’s Journal, 28(4), 29-       30.

(1994, October). Teaching the whole child (Part 2).  Religion Teacher’s Journal 28(5), 16-17.

(1994 November/December). A Jesse Tree Advent chain.  Catechist, 38.

(1994, November/December). A family workshop: planning for Christmas. Catechist, 32-34.

(1995, February). A workshop for exploring family prayer. Catechist 28(5), 26, 30.

(1996, February). Family ideas at their fingertips. Catechist 29(5), 38-39.

(1996, March).We are partners with parents  (Part 1). Religion Teacher's Journal 30(2), 32-33.

(1996, March). Family ideas for the 50 days of Easter. Catechist 29(6), 40-42.

(1996, April). We are partners with parents (Part 2). Religion Teacher's Journal 30(3), 12-13.

(1996, April/May). Celebrate Mary with a pilgrimage. Catechist 27(9), 42-43.

(1996, October). What questions should we ask? Religion Teacher’s Journal 30(5), 8-9.   

(1996, November/December). Questions that trigger thought. Religion Teacher’s Journal

            30(6), 12-13.

(1996, November/December). Family Ideas for Advent/Christmas. Catechist, 29-30.

(1997, January). One step toward changing the prayer life of your parish. Today's Parish

            29(1), 7-8.

(1997, January). Understanding sacraments: helping parents continue to grow. Catechist 30(4),


(1997, February). Calendar of Lenten and Easter practices 1997. Catechist 30(5), 28-30.

(1997, April/May).  Are you forgetting anyone in your evaluations? Catechist 30(7), 29-30.

(1997, September). Getting to know you. Catechist 31(1), 72-74.

(1998, January). The case for First Communion with the parish family at Sunday Masses. 

            Catechist, 31(4), 51-52.

(1998, February). With our eyes on Jesus.  Religion Teacher’s Journal, 8-9

(1998, April/May). Reflecting on the Holy Spirit. Catechist 31(7), 38-39.

(1998, September).  We come to share our Story. Catechist 32(1), 63-64.

(1998, October).  Experiencing our rituals. Catechist 32(2), 35-37.

(1998, Autumn).  Questions are good:  an adult education model. Caravan I 12(48), 5, 14.

(1998, September). Starting all over again. Religion Teacher’s Journal, 16.

(1998 November/December), Is your class too busy?  (Contemplation) Religion Teacher’s

            Journal 32(6), 8-9.

(1998 November/December).  Leading children to a life of generosity. Catechist 32(3), 35-37.

(1998, December). The planning process involves everyone. PACE 18, 188-189.

(1999, January).  Called to discipleship:  Sacraments are about sending us forth. Catechist

            32(4), 32-34.

(1999, January).  Let’s develop better evaluation tools. Today’s Parish 31(1), 20-21.

(1999, February).  Spirit-filled activities. Religion Teacher’s Journal 33(1), 29-30.

(1999, February). Lenten family activity. Catechist 32(5), 37-40.

(1999, March).  Easter:  a precious fifty days. Religion Teacher’s Journal 33(2), 37-38.

(1999 April/May).  Watch your language! Catechist 37(2), 41-43.

(1999, October).  Living the Our Father. Religion Teacher’s Journal 33(5), 4-6.

(1999, November/December). Really living the Our Father. Religion Teacher’s Journal 33(6),


(2000, January).  Brainstorming ideas for adult religious education. Today’s Parish 32(1), 4-5. 

(2000, January).  The jubilee calls us to forgiveness. Catechist 33(4), 50-51.

(2000, February).  Our jubilee theme of Eucharist calls us to study, prayer, and action.

            Catechist 33(5), 36-37.          

(2000, March). We’re all in this together. Religion Teacher’s Journal  34(2), 4-6.

(2000, March).  Praying the Psalms. Catechist 33(5), 36-39. 

(2000, April). 115 Prayer-ways to take us through 2000 and beyond. The Catechist’s

            Connection,  1-2.        

 (2000, April/May). God is more than we think. Religion Teacher’s Journal 34(3), 4-6.

(2000, April/May). Empowering people to share Faith. Catechist 33(7), 42. 

(2000, Summer). Moving into the future as a parish.  ­Caravan 14(55), 14-16.

(2000, September). There is more than one way to pray! Catechist 34(1), 69-72.

(2000, October).  Learning about saints from the internet. Catechist  34(2), 30-31.

(2000, November/December). Advent Jesse tree: the women and men who prepared for the

            coming of Jesus. Catechist  24(3), 69-72.

(2001, Winter). A child’s faith is rooted in the present. Today’s Liturgy with Children,  3-4.

(2001, February). What to do?  Planning for your parish’s faith formation process. Ministry

            and Liturgy  28(1), 10-12.     

(2001, February). February:  A time for reviewing your teaching methods:  techniques from

            A to Z. Catechist 34(5), 32-34.

(2001, March).  Today’s pray-ers, tomorrow’s prophets:  the spirituality of our children. 

            Religion Teacher’s Journal 35(2), 22-23.

(2001, Spring). In the process is the growth. Caravan 16(44), 7-9.

(2001, September). Children’s liturgies: reflecting on the Eucharist. Religion Teacher’s Journal

            35(4), 18.

(2001, October). Renewing the mind of the media. Religion Teacher’s Journal 35(5), 32.

(2002, March). The spirituality of our children. Religion Teacher’s Journal 36(2), 8-9.

(2002,  September). Here’s a hatful of activity ideas for you to try. Catechist 36(1), 76-77.

(2002, Autumn). Children and the rites of Reconciliation. Today’s Liturgy with Children, 5-6.

(2002, October/November). Catechizing parents through their children’s sacraments.  Liturgical

            Catechesis 5(5), 13-15.

(2002, October), Helping children “hear” the Scriptures. Catechist 36(2), 54.

(2002, November/December). Advent:  a time of giving. Religion Teacher’s Journal 36(6), 8-


(2002, November/December). Helping children prepare for thanksgiving.  Catechist 36(3), 42.

(2002,  November/December). A family Christmas gathering.  Catechist 36(3), 42-43. 

(2003, February).  The ABCs of Catholic social teaching  (Part I). Religion Teacher’s Journal,


(2003, February). Random acts of kindness:  a gospel imperative. Catechist 36(5), 46.

(2003 February/March).  Communication 101 for parish leaders. Liturgical Catechesis 6(1), 9-


(2003, March).The ABCs of Catholic social teaching (Part II). Religion Teacher’s Journal

            73(2), 36-37. 

(2003, March). Leading children in the prayer of the church. Religion Teacher’s Journal 37(2),


(2003, March). A family Easter celebration:  making it last 50 days. Catechist 36(6), 35.

(2003, April/May).  Celebrate the fifty days of Easter. Religion Teacher’s Journal 37(3), 12-


(2003, June).  12 quick tips for catechists. The Catechist’s Connection, 5.

(2003, November/December). Ways to make Christmas last. Religion Teacher’s Journal 37(6),


(2004, February). Service:  it’s who we are. Religion Teacher’s Journal 38(1), 24-25.

(2004, April). 11 Tips for parents as First Communion catechists. The Catechist’s Connection,    6. 

(2004, April/May). Pentecost:  celebration ideas for families. Catechist 37(7), 45.

(2004, April/May). Summer family faith suggestions to celebrate creation. Catechist 37(7), 46.

(2004, April/May). Summertime reflection:  the sabbath spirit for all year. Catechist 37(7),


(2004, July). Ministry:  privilege or duty?  Eucharistic Ministries 244, 1.

(2004, July). Ministry:  saying yes, saying no.  Eucharistic Ministries 244, 2.

(2005, February). Lenten thoughts for catechists. Catechist 38(5), 30-31.

(2005, February). Advertising and gospel values.  Religion Teacher’s Journal 39(1), 36-37.

(2005, March). We are Easter people:  10 steps to easter joy. Religion Teacher’s Journal  39(2),


(2005, March). Prayer starters for students’ in-between times.  Catechist 38(6), 46-47.

(2005, November/December). Seven ways to stimulate thought and imagination. Religion

            Teacher’s Journal  39(6), 10-11.

(2005, December). Mary as Model of catechesis. The Catechist’s Connection, 3.

2005, December). Catechizing with Marian titles. The Catechist’s Connection, 3.

(2006, January). Living the Eucharist. Catechist 34(9), 52-53.

(2006, March). Accompanying children on the journey of prayer. Religion Teacher’s Journal

            40(3), 24-25.

(2006, April/May).  5 simple steps:  summertime faith formation.  Religion Teacher’s

            Journal 40(4), 24-25.

(2006, September 3). Tools for catechists: guide youngsters into forming greater consciences.        Our Sunday Visitor 95(19), 9-10.

(2006, October). Experiencing Christ:  the goal of catechesis. Religion Teacher’s Journal,


(2007, September). Starting the year with success in mind. Religion Teacher’s Journal  41(4),


(2007, Fall). Ideas for praying with children in the liturgies of fall. Today’s Liturgy with


(2008, September). The secret to effective lesson planning: how to plan for your best year

            ever.  Religion Teacher’s Journal 42(4), 14-15.

(2008, September). 12 ways to partner with parents. Catechist 42(1), 38-41.

(2008, September/October). Pay attention to the wisdom figures. Catechetical Leader, U4-U5. 

(2009, May) Breathtaking responsibility, exhilarating challenge. The Priest 65(5), 10-12.

(2009, November/December).  Rediscover the Word made flesh in the Christmas Gospels. 

            Religion Teacher’s Journal 43(6), 12-13. 

(2010, January). 14 ideas for adult faith formation:  send the faithful out on mission to the

            world. Today’s Parish  42(1), 14-16.

(2010, March). Teach us to pray. Catechist 43(6), 44-45.   

(2010, November/December). Celebrating Thanksgiving all year long. RTJ’s Creative


(2011, April/May). Celebrating the Holy Spirit (make Pentecost cards). RTJ’s Creative

            Catechist, 14-15.

(2011, September). Your ministry made easy: let your lessons travel home to the families. 

            RTJ’s Creative Catechist, 12-13.

(2011, October). The six building blocks of catechesis.  RTJ’s Creative Catechist, 23-24.

(2012, January). Called to discipleship. Catechetical Leader 23(1), 10-13.  

Co-authored Articles

(1981, August/September). With Sue Kelly.  TGIF: A Family Idea.  Catechist 15(1), 64-66.

 (1996, March). With Carol Jadach. A Learning-Sharing Gathering for Families. Catechist 29(6),


(1998, February). With Carol Jadach. Exploring Scripture during a family gathering.  Catechist,     38-39.

(1998, September).  With Carol Jadach. Starting all over again.  Religion Teacher’s Journal

            32(4), 16.

(2002, February).  With Alison Berger. Violence and the Media. Religion Teacher’s Journal,

            36(1), 32.


(2001). Activities for Celebrating 300 Years of Catholic Faith in Detroit.  Detroit, MI:

            Archdiocese of Detroit.

(2004). Catholic parent know-how:  Confirmation (rev.).  Ft. Wayne, IN: Our Sunday Visitor.

(2004). Catholic parent know-how:  Baptism (rev.). Ft. Wayne, IN: Our Sunday Visitor.

 (2006- present).  Take Out:  Family Faith on the Go (Monthly publication). Ft. Wayne, IN. Our

            Sunday Visitor.

(2007). Catechist’s companion:  the liturgical year. Ft. Wayne, IN: Our Sunday Visitor.

(2009). First Eucharist poster and prayer card. Ft. Wayne, IN: Our Sunday Visitor.

(2009). First Reconciliation family poster and prayer card.  Ft. Wayne, IN: Our Sunday Visitor.

(2009). Confirmation family poster and prayer card. Ft. Wayne, IN: Our Sunday Visitor. 

(2009). Catholic know-how:  how to be a Confirmation sponsor. Ft. Wayne, IN: Our Sunday


(2010). Easter:  Celebrating the season as Catholics. Ft. Wayne, IN: Our Sunday Visitor.

Columns (weekly/monthly)

(1987-present).  Catechist Magazine.  Dayton, OH: Peter Li Education Groups.


(1997-2009).  Michigan Catholic. Detroit, MI: Archdiocese of Detroit.


(2003-2006). Series on The Creed, and Scripture questions. Faith Magazine,  

             Dioceses of Lansing, MI, Las Vegas, NV and Laredo, TX.,


Catechist Formation In-Service. Ft. Wayne, IN: Our Sunday Visitor.

(2008) Adult faith formation matters. Detroit, MI: Archdiocese of Detroit.

Internet Materials

Presenter: Coaching Parents

Member of Project Team for Faith Formation Learning Exchange


(2011). Adult Faith Formation webinar: Motivating adults to grow in their faith

(2011). What we believe: Praying and living the apostles creed

 (2012). 40 tips: Getting started in adult faith formation

(2010) Nuts and bolts: ideas and practices for adult faith formation


(2010 – present). GEMS a monthly newsletter of best practices in adult faith formation


(2006-2009). SPARKS  a monthly newsletter of best practices in adult faith formation in the

            Archdiocese of Detroit.


 (2001, Spring). Roles in Catechesis  (Article 10 of the Evangelizing Catechesis series by


(2006, Fall). Treasured Tools for Successfully Reaching Parents.  Our Sunday Visitor

            Catechetical Catalog. 

Book Reviews

(2005, March). Facing the deep cutting truth of grief and loss. [Review of the book, Praying our

            Goodbyes by Joyce Rupp].  Catechetical Leader 16(2), 15-16.

(2008,  March/April). It’s What We Do.  [Review of the book, SpiritLinking Leadership:             Working through Resistance to Organizational Change, by D. Markham].  Catechetical

            Leader  19(5), 13-14. 

(2010, November/December). Not for seekers only. [ Review of the book, Why not consider

            becoming Catholic by Frank DeSiano]. Catechetical Leader. 

Excerpts from Publications

(2012, January). Called to discipleship. Catechetical Leader 23(1), 11.           

Children and families belong to the parish, not just to a religious education program or a school or only to “this year’s First Communion class.” All that we do in faith formation programs and schools should incorporate children (and their families) into the life of the parish, helping them to experience that their faith is about much more than just “going to class”, more than just learning in an academic setting, more than only getting a sacrament. This participation in the life of the parish – in all its aspects, activities, and ministries – will hopefully remind them that the Christian lifestyle is about being disciples everyday of their lives.

(2010, January). 14 ideas for adult faith formation: send the faithful out on mission to the world. Today’s Parish  42(1), 16.

            Adult faith formation is about much more than imparting knowledge.  It’s about transformation.  One of the ways to do that is to enable the person to develop skills for ministry, for service, for outreach.  Incorporate those practical sessions and opportunities into your programs.  Don’t presume that everyone has the skills.

Don’t ever let your programs end.

(2009, May) Breathtaking responsibility, exhilarating challenge. The Priest 65(5), 10.

            The crucial question isn’t really if it’s from September 21 through May 28 or in a Catholic school for five days a week September through June.  Information alone isn’t enough.  What happens in a structured school or religious education setting alone doesn’t do it anymore.

            A long time ago that worked.  It worked then because the formation – the living of it, the discipleship part – was happening (for many people) much more vividly in families, in neighborhoods and parishes, and in a society built more strongly on Judeo-Christian values.  In that kind of milieu, children (and youth and adults) came to the catechetical setting and reflected on what was already being lived out in their lives and all around them.  The catechetical setting gave words to the lived reality.

(2002, March). The spirituality of our children. Religion Teacher’s Journal 36(2), 8-9.

Our catechetical methods need to include right-brained techniques;  we need to tap into the imagination, pay attention to our feelings and utilize the arts. Can we help our young people imagine alternative futures among which to choose their preferred option and to set out on a course to achieve it. Can we introduce creative and unexpected responses to the same old problems?

            The arts, our feelings, our imaginations can make real our experience of wonder, mystery and awe.  They put us in touch with the holy, the sacred, the God who created us and calls us to be co-creators.

(2000, April/May). God is always more than we think. Religion Teacher’s Journal 34(3), 4. 

            Our ideas and images of God are formed by many factors: our family, our prayer, our worship experiences, our participation in parish community life, the way we’re taught and the things we hear others say about God.

            As catechists we are keenly aware that everything teaches.  And we have a wonderful and challenging responsibility to help children and youth shape their imagoes God into one that is wholesome, healthy, and whole, one that calls forth and solidifies an intimate love relationship with God.


Schaeffler’s writing cuts across various aspects of faith development cuts across various aspects of faith formation and development as well as various populations. This reading list is representative of the same.

(2000, April/May). God is always more than we think. Religion Teacher’s Journal 34(3), 4-6.

(2004, February). Service:  it’s who we are. Religion Teacher’s Journal 38(1), 24-25.

2006, March). Accompanying children on the journey of prayer. Religion Teacher’s Journal

            40(3), 24-25.

(2009, May) Breathtaking responsibility, exhilarating challenge. The Priest 65(5), 10-12.

(2009). Creative Connections for Catechists from A to Z: Catholic Social Teaching. Mystic, CT:

            Twenty-third Publications.

(2010). Nuts and bolts: ideas and practices for adult faith formation

(2010, January). 14 ideas for adult faith formation:  send the faithful out on mission to the

            world. Today’s Parish  42(1), 14-16.

(2011). Prayer from A to Z for catechists and those they teach.  Mystic, CT: Twenty-third


(2011). What we believe: Praying and living the apostles creed

(2012, January). Called to discipleship. Catechetical Leader 23(1), 10-13.

Author Information

Mary Lou Putrow

Mary Lou Putrow, Ph.D. is Assistant Professor of Catechetics at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit, Michigan where she teaches courses on catechesis, the RCIA and mission and ministry. Her particular research interest is in women's contributions to catechesis in the Roman Catholic tradition.