Top Video Tips Catechists Can Use Today

Top Video TipsLast week, I presented an inservice to catechists on Flipped Catechesis. While they LOVED the idea of flipping lessons, family meetings, sacrament parent meetings and adult education, the most common questions were on using videos. This week I’ll share my top video tips catechists can use today!

Video Tip #1: Use Video for Different Outcomes

Catechists who currently use video typically locate a video that relates to a lesson and show it during their class session. That’s a great way to implement the use of video,  but there are others as well.

Multiple Video Uses
  • Introduction – Introduce a topic with an interview or question you compile of your parish members. People love seeing people they recognize answering questions honestly.
  • Discussion – Show a short video on a particular issue and let students talk about each side’s concerns.
  • Information/Teaching – This can be a mini-lecture you prepare or find online. You may also show “how-to” videos such as how to make a rosary, or how-to pray.
  • Student Created – I like to video student skits and show them to the class. Students may also like to direct their own films. These are great because the students are the actors, the content is being presented and digested, and re-created to come out in new form. Each time the video is viewed the message is being heard again!

Video Tip #2: Find Free Catholic Videos Online

So Many Catholic diocese and ministries have embraced social media and online presences that it is easy to find Catholic videos on almost every topic. Here are some of my most commonly used:

  • C4 Ignite Your Catholic Faith – The Archdiocese of Milwaukee produced over 50 short videos where Auxiliary Bishop Don Hying of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee discusses the Catechism of the Catholic Church and his views on God’s importance and relevance in our lives.
  • Busted Halo – Based on Catholic wisdom from the Paulist Fathers, this is an entire website devoted to helping seekers find deeper meaning in life and grow in faith. They have over a dozen video categories with many videos within each.
  • – The Diocese of Charleston-Wheeling has produced the Video Catechism with 12 videos on each pillar of the Catechism. This four-year project, which remains in progress.
  • Word on Fire – Fr. Robert Barron, widely known for his Catholicism Video set for Adult Education, was an early adopter of social media and offers over 370 videos online. They can be sorted by category or topic and vary in length. Depending on topic, these videos reach into the adult education levels.
  • Fr. Jim Martin SJ – Prolific writer and editor of America Magazine, Fr. Jim Martin is a dynamic personality. While his video list is not lengthy, his approaches to prayer and spirituality are wonderful resources.
  • Vocations Videos – This resource offers several short reflections on the priesthood and spirituality.
  • Movie Clips – No video list would be complete without the mention of using video clips from major motion pictures. The Daughters of St. Paul, or the Pauline Sisters offer great resources aligning topics with movie clips. Of special interest are connection of movie segments with the Ten Commandments and the Lectionary.

(note: many of the previous videos appear on the ministry websites and YouTube)

Video Tip #3: Find Additional Free Videos Online

It should be noted that while Catholic video resources are best for doctrinal teachings, there are many video resources that are suitable for different outcomes in Tip #1 above. These offer generic Christian, parish, catechist, or even student videos that can be excellent during your sessions.

  • – Simply search for your topic such as Lent or the Beatitudes. I have found great student produced videos such as a Lego Stations of the Cross.
  • – This site offers Christian videos from varying perspectives. Use prudence when making selections to ensure messages are consistent with Catholic teaching. Many videos are squeaky clean cute animal tricks or feel good messages. Some tackle issues and others teachings. Search function includes Sermons, Movies, Comedy, Cute, and Devotionals.
  • – I include this resource mostly for adult educators. TED Talks (originally focused on Technology, Entertainment, and Design in 1984) are short talks (18 min or less) addressing science to global issues. These have become so widely popular they could be easily included to present a worldview on an issue such as stem cell, big-bang, and the death penalty to prompt discussion.
  • – This site offers over one hundred video clips from the movies “Son of God,” “Jesus,” “Lumo,” and “The Bible.” Still not sure? These are high quality videos filmed with today’s standards (for discriminating viewers) and are all based on scripture.

Video Tip #4: Best Practices

  • Discretion -Always use discretion when selecting videos from any site and always watch the complete video prior to showing. We want to provide information that is consistent with Catholic teaching and want no surprises from a video we didn’t watch in it’s entirety!
  • Length – 3-5 minutes is best for grades 7-12. Adults may track longer depending on the topic and presentation. Longer videos can be segmented.
  • Embedded Videos – Usually it is easier to play a video directly from a website or YouTube. In the sidebar YouTube will often “suggest” videos that may be inappropriate, so use caution. Also, playing videos directly from the Internet means that Internet access will be needed and password information is not always available. For those reasons, it is generally best practice to download the video and embed in your presentation.
  • Recording Videos – Use an iPhone or more sophisticated camera. These are easy to use, make clear recordings, and are easy to edit.
  • Script – Always write a script or outline for your video and practice until it feels natural and flows. Record while practicing and if you stumble, simply pause and then continue. You can edit the stumble out of the video once recording is complete.
  • Editing – There are many editing Apps and software available. For Windows computers try Movie Maker. For Macs try iMovie. Just like anything there is a learning curve, but practice makes perfect!
  • Add Text – When editing, it is a good idea to add text of the bullet points you are making so the listener can read the points as you make them. That makes for better retention.
  • Social Media Guidelines – When practicing any form of social media it is good to become familiar with the USCCB’s Social Media Guidelines or similar guidelines from your diocese. Also, best practices would be to establish communication with your director of religious education for permission to show and/or record videos for your sessions.

These are by no means a complete list or every best practice but are my top video tips catechists can use today. These are my suggestions, feel free to share your own!

Video Challenge: The one area I have come up short on is videos in Spanish. I do not mean to neglect our Spanish speaking sisters and brothers and would love to know of any similar video resources in Espanol. There is a serious need for these! Please comment below.

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  1. Jim Devlin said:

    Thanks for the info, Steve! We’ve used for short video messages and love it. Plus you can search by topic to narrow down the hunt. Keep up the good work!

    March 17, 2015
    • What a great source, Jim! Thanks for sharing. It’s easy to use and add an additional element to the session by tapping into major motion pictures (do they still call them motion pictures?!)

      March 24, 2015
  2. A wonderful Video archive curated by catechists, diocesan resource media persons, DRE/PCLs, Youth Ministers and others can be found in the Digital Catechesis library. Membership is free. Signup at:! Only members of this online group have access to this content. You can search for videos by using tags like Lent, Advent, Reconciliation, Eucharist, RCIA, etc. A great resource for you, chosen by real catechists.

    March 15, 2015
    • Thank you, Sister Caroline. Indeed, Digital Catechesis is a wonderful resource/community and the videos there abound!

      March 16, 2015

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