Do you ever wonder what it might have been like to be one of the early followers of Christ? How awesome the responsibility must have been to tell of the miracles and healings those early believers witnessed. How challenging it must have been to continue to preach the Word of God, when others would not listen. Even 2000 years later, each of us is called to participate in the life of Christ—as followers and disciples. The task can be both joyful and difficult. Nevertheless, as baptized believers we are obligated to continue to spread the love of Christ to others.
This issue of To Teach provides ideas and strategies for living out the true call of discipleship in our world.
Schedule time during your next staff meeting for any of your teachers and staff who attended the National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA) convention to share ideas and resources from their workshops and sessions. Encourage them to look for specific ideas on how to promote the Catholic identity of the school.
Distribute copies of Teaching the Spirit of Mission Ad Gentes: Continuing Pentecost Today to teachers and school board members as a sign of gratitude for their continual good work. In this pastoral letter, the bishops thank educators for their important work and remind them that they have a primary duty of handing on the mission of Jesus to the Church of tomorrow.
Schedule a faculty evening (or morning) of prayer focusing on the four calls of the laity found in Called and Gifted for the Third Millennium. Focus on examining the four calls—to holiness, community, mission and ministry, and Christian maturity—in light of Church teaching, pastoral practice, and the changing conditions in the world. Included are questions for individual and group reflection.
Begin evaluating the current year and planning for the next school year with your school board by reading and discussing To Teach as Jesus Did. In this document the bishops outline the themes of message, community, and service. Take time to discuss how these themes are (or could be) integrated into your school programming and ministry.
Provide students and teachers with information regarding potential summer volunteer or internship programs. Internships with the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) are available for Catholic young adults, ages 18-30, who are interested in gaining experience working with and on behalf of those living in poverty.
To commemorate National Child Abuse Prevention month, send home a copy of the Prayer for Healing: Victims of Abuse and invite families to pray daily for those affected by sexual abuse.
Provide all faculty and volunteers with a copy of Walk in the Light: A Pastoral Response to Child Sexual Abuse as a reminder of the importance of keeping all young people safe. The statement offers basic information about child sexual abuse, including its prevalence, signs of sexual abuse, profile of an abuser, effects of abuse, and the healing process. It also suggests practical actions that can be taken to raise awareness and respond to the needs of abused persons.
Prepare your students for the visit of Pope Benedict XVI by using one of the lesson plans specially developed for the visit for each grade, K-12.
Watch or listen to parts of Pope Benedict's visit to the United States using the streaming video and audio available online. Use segments of the Holy Father's visit as an opportunity to teach about the papacy, the teachings of the Church, and the role that the Pope plays in the world.
Celebrate the anniversary of death of Pope John Paul II (April 2) by reminding your students about his life, ministry, and works. Ask several students to research different parts of his life (e.g., his childhood, his seminary days, years as a priest and bishop, his pontificate), then present the information to the rest of the class or school in creative ways like skits, posters, or exhibits.
As part of the parish confirmation program invite candidates to view Come to the Water: The Adult Journey to Baptism as an introductory session on the RCIA process. Discuss the ways the RCIA process and how it parallels the study and reflection of many confirmation candidates.
Plan a Discipleship Day for youth and young adults in the parish. Set up various stations that encourage the participants to reflect on their call to live out their faith. Consider using some or all of the following media resources as part of the event:
You Could Make a Difference: Viewers can examine what is needed for public ministry and see if they or others they know might be encouraged to pursue life as a priest or religious.
Garage Grandma: Some grandparents open up their hearts to family members in need. Others help out at the soup kitchen serving the homeless. Still others open up their arms to give a loving hug in troubled times. Grandma Marge Larsen does all of the above when she opens up her garage.
Introduce your children to or expand their knowledge of the papacy, St. Peter, and Pope Benedict XVI during the papal visit to the United States, April 15-20. Walk through an age-appropriate lesson plan with your children, read them stories about the Pope and his visit online or in your local paper, and watch streaming video of various events during the Holy Father's visit.
Include a prayer to Pope John Paul II (see the ending paragraphs of his many papal writings or the Prayer for Peace) before bedtime on April 2, the anniversary of his death.
Use an old jelly jar, or container to start collecting coins for the annual Catholic Home Missions Appeal. This Appeal helps strengthen the Catholic Church in the parishes and dioceses where resources are limited and priests are few. Present the collection to your pastor the weekend of April 26-27.
Discuss the concept of stewardship as a family. Use the reflections and questions in Stewardship: A Disciple's Response to improve your knowledge of and education in stewardship. Consider ways that you and your family can be better stewards of God’s creation and gifts.
Review the questions and answers in preparation for your class.
Consider how to use appropriate questions and answers as part of your lesson plan.
Develop learning activities that help youths and young adults learn this information by heart (memorization).
123. Why does Jesus call upon his disciples to take up their cross?
172. Why must the Church proclaim the Gospel to the whole world?
173. In what sense is the Church missionary?
188. What is the vocation of the lay faithful?
544. How does Jesus teach us to pray?
Catholic News Service (CNS), the oldest and largest religious news service in the world, is a leading source of news for Catholic print and electronic media across the globe. With bureaus in Washington and Rome, as well as a global correspondent network, CNS since 1920 has set the standard in Catholic journalism.