Our Saint Anne's Helper Audio Catechism Story...
...why and how we have created and why we sell CDs and digital downloads:
The answer? Our story rests on the grace of the duty of state and listening to good advice.
We listened to the advice of good priests and religious to teach the First Communion and Confirmation basic Catholic beliefs to our own children, and we wanted to teach them well.
We lived in a remote area and had to provide catechism class for ourselves.
Our story began years ago when our oldest child was preparing to receive her First Communion. We were told that the date would be in August, so we prepared so that she was ready for the test.
Then our pastor moved.
The next pastor said that First Holy Communion day would take place in September or October. So we continued to review the Baltimore Catechism questions and answers.
Then November, December....
Yes, you might have guessed it, the date was finally Mother's Day the next year!
We didn't guess it at the time; yet by November we had told our daughter that once she could pronounce and remember each catechism answer well enough, we would add both the question and answer on a cassette.
Then she could keep and review it at will, even while she played with her sister and brother, colored pictures, or worked on crafts.
Voila. Our first audio catechism! It is a family heirloom now.
That same season our pastor asked me to teach the First Communion catechism for our very small mission chapel. It seemed like it would be easy enough.
Wasn't it for very small children?
Yes, the children were small, but the responsibility of teaching other people's children was huge!
Just as we wanted to be sure that our own children could answer well, we wanted to help other children do the same.
We taught what Father had assigned on Sundays, and the children learned well with their own parents' help during the week.
Note the parents. The parents are the main teachers whether your child is in class or not. Pray the whole time, especially focus on your family Rosary. The Rosary has most of the prayers a young First Communicant will learn.
Sr. Mary Catechism and Mrs. Catechist present what they can, yet the best reinforcement and encouragement starts and continues at home: prayer, devotion, attitude, review.
Then we moved.
The Sisters who taught at the new location were using a much better set of questions and answers from an excellent First Communion book called Jesus Comes from the series Our Holy Faith.
A good many of these answers were the same as what we'd already studied as they are all based on the Baltimore Catechism, yet there were some excellent additions, too.
After we taught the children to pronounce the answers and had reviewed with them nearly every night, sometimes several times a day, they could remember the answers for Sister's class and more importantly... for life.
At this time we had had even less time available for review because
Time to do another cassette for child number two.
Simply: Two different catechisms were being used in the same school. We had no time to look into it as the children's quizzes were twice weekly. Mom and Dad needed the review help of the audio cassette even more in the here and now!
Put all of the questions on the same cassette!
Later, we moved to a new home and I lost that second cassette.
Getting all of the answers recorded became a new priority since we soon had eight children, another child in school, and they all needed more review while I had less time.
I wish I had had some kind of Catholic tutor, someone who would help me review with the children; yet with them in school we wouldn't have had the time or the money to have a tutor come to our house.
We needed to get the answers recorded again.
We had our task cut out for us, especially to record the answers in a six-year-old user friendly format. Rewinding a homemade cassette was not the easiest task for some of our little ones, and led to the next step in our audio catechism story.
The question was, "How?"
Audio Baltimore Catechism CDs were the answer.
Our local computer expert showed us how to produce professional audio CDs. There are so many benefits!
In the next chapter in our audio catechism story we began giving the Catechism CDs to our Godchildren, nieces and nephews, friends and acquaintances. Even if all the gift did was lessen the grief of squeezing review time into their busy days, it was our way of helping our family and friends. It was so easy to help the Moms help the children.
Soon, as word spread, other parents began asking for a copy. as they they could see that the CDs were a huge help.
At one point a lady came to the door wanting to buy a copy. Cash in hand! Dad looked at Mom and said we need to do something different.
We could not afford to continue handing out the audio CDs for free, especially every year, so we consulted with several sisters and priests as to our next step.
We saw that this was the beginning of a true apostolate, as confirmed by the testimony of many good priests, religious, and catechists.
We hunted to find a professional production service to produce thousands of our CDs.
We paid a professional singer, Anthony Delallo, to record the Confirmation CD.
And took a scary step forward to start a website. This one. :-)
We needed a name, so one of the children came up with Saint Anne's Helper.
St. Anne is the patroness of those who teach their children. Being mother of Our Lady and grandmother to Jesus gave us great confidence in Saint Anne's protection.
We worked hard to develop and publish the CDs in a professional format.
They sold us on the idea of an enhanced CD. This means that there is an audio and text file on each CD. Too cool!
Professionally designed labels for cover and CD.
White DVD box for durability and easy recognition. "Go get the white one."
We started building our tiny business in 2007 after perfecting our CDs.
We presented them to many major Catholic book publishing companies and Catholic book sellers. Several book sellers were our largest customers.
Priests, catechists, parents, students and converts have written to thank us for our apostolate; but guess what? We had no venue to reach the larger market for Catholic audio book CDs.
So, long story short, after nearly two years working the usual venues, we found that it was hard to convince bookstores to sell our CDs.
They already had their own products and their own established supply lines; and few people had heard of an audio catechism - of course.
In those days this was a brand new idea. (Later we learned that another family was busy creating a CD of the old Baltimore Catechism. It has all of the Baltimore Catechism No. 1, so each track has several questions and answers. The First Communion Baltimore Catechism is a subset of the No. 1.)
Then my sister said, "You need a website."
She and her husband had already set up their successful website. They knew that a website was what we needed to sell our CDs directly to Catholic families and to build the base for a larger Catholic business.
Gasp! We could barely use email. Aren't websites expensive?....
Shor answer: No.
We saw their success and decided to use their good advice.
We began to build this website in December of 2008. At the beginning we had not known much more than how to use email and we have learned to do so much more since that time.
Now, after using a step by step tutorial of how to do all that we have done; we have organic traffic and many Catholic companies, parishes, missions, schools, and families use our products.
As an aside building this website has been a great education for our high school graduates.
Which means that there are now several of us in our family who know how to build their own successful websites, navigate the internet, and produce beautiful graphics and printables.
Except for tweaking and for adding new material, the site pretty much takes care of itself now.
A real benefit is that traffic has grown even when we do not "work" on the site.
Visitors now had none of the hassle and expense of shipping and handling; and our visitors could receive their products immediately. Win. Win. We also have international friends as a result.
Let's just say that it's so great to be able to help you to find good catechism resources in easy to buy and use formats.
It is a highlight in our of our day when you write to tell us how you've benefited from using our downloads.
As our littlest ones were growing older, we produced other First Communion and Confirmation products:
If you already have a Catholic business you might be interested in being our affiliate. You promote and we deliver. :-)
Through the years these companies have carried Saint Anne's Helper products:
May God grant the increase.
Thank you for visiting! If you like what you see, we appreciate your sharing our audio catechism story.
With confidence in Saint Anne,
Kevin and Mary Fifer
Proprietors, Saint Anne's Helper
Catholic catechism resources for your Roman Catholic catechism class, Faith formation, Catholic homeschool, religious education, or Sunday school lessons. Save on bundles!
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