Tag: church (page 1 of 2)

Teaching Easter in Classrooms

Easter is the culmination of the most important week in the Christian calendar, and marks the grand, triumphant culmination of the season of Lent.

 

Although Easter is commonly associated with bunnies and eggs, chicks and flowers, the true meaning of Easter centers on the glorious resurrection of Jesus Christ. When teaching Easter in the classroom, it is a good idea to strike a clean balance between these two contrasting themes.

 

The colorful pastels and baby animals of Easter are playful and friendly for young students, but teachers should not neglect to tell the story of Jesus and his amazing gift to humanity.

 

In the days leading up to Easter, it is common to read from the Bible the appropriate events pertaining to Christ’s triumphant entry into Jerusalem, his subsequent betrayal, and his crucifixion on the Cross.

 

Reading directly from the Bible is appropriate for older students, but younger ones may have a difficult time responding to the formal language of the Scriptures. Find a careful translation of the relevant Bible accounts in a language easy for young students to understand.

 

Another thing you can do is engage your students in a discussion. Ask them questions about what Jesus death and resurrection mean to them. In the days leading up to Easter (possibly on the Friday before), arrange a slideshow of the Stations of the Cross and ask them to explain what is happening, if they can.

 

Of course, Easter should be a fun and exciting day as well. Perhaps you could stage an Easter egg hunt in the classroom, or simply bring in some candy to share. If you have kids, especially younger ones, you could print off a collection of images and allow them to pick their favorite ones to color.

 

Many of these examples primarily pertain to younger students. What can you do to engage high schoolers in a holiday that is often geared towards children? Encourage your students to write. Perhaps they could write about what Jesus’ sacrifice means to them personally. Another idea would be to have them reflect on how they have changed and grown from children to young adults. Perhaps incorporate some reflective music and some meditation.

 

These are just a few ideas. The links below will refer you to all the resources cited above and a few more.

 

Resources:

LEADERSHIP and VISION CRITICAL TO SCHOOL SUCCESS

Proverbs 29:18 clearly states, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.”  All memorable achievements are brought about by leaders with a vision.

Each year as Catholic school leaders prepare for the new year, the successful ones recognizes that flying is not enough.  These leaders know that it is God’s work they do and to just fly is not enough, as they need to soar. To soar requires school leaders to establish and articulate an inspirational vision for their school. God uses visions to excite school leaders because excited leaders motivate teachers and staff to exceed their comfort zones. I’ve seen it with my own eyes – with vision, teachers feel empowered and vibrant. And when teachers are empowered and vibrant, student achievement increases exponentially.

Last week I had the opportunity to speak with newly hired  teachers in the Archdiocese of New York – many of them are first time teachers. I spoke to them about the Trinitarian aspects of a Catholic School and how successful Catholic schools are about relationships – relationships – relationships.  By the time the day was done, some the cohort of new teachers adopted a mantra of “Not Under my Watch.” Imagine nearly several dozen new Catholic school teachers being asked:

  • Will it be said that in your classroom children were denied an opportunity to encounter the Risen Christ?

 

  • Will it be said that the test scores of your children declined during the 2016-2017 school year?

 

  • Will students in your classroom withdraw from school because parents are dissatisfied with your willingness to partner with them on behalf of their child’s education?

 

And all responding with an unequivocal – “Not Under My Watch.”

 

Teaching is a noble profession! Nobility includes in its meaning the very notion of beautiful. Therefore, noble work is beautiful work. But what is beautiful can be sullied. While working at the University of Notre Dame’s Alliance for Catholic Education Program I was often presented with opportunities to speak with new Catholic school teachers. Below are some of the thoughts I would share with them in an attempt to help each new teacher maintain the beauty and luster of his/her own vocation as a Catholic school teacher. I provide you with them today so that Catholic school leaders everywhere can use as appropriate in sharing with new teachers.  Some of the thoughts might be good for veteran teachers to hear again as well.

 

14 TIPS FOR CATHOLIC SCHOOL TEACHERS

  1. Put your own oxygen mask on first and stay close to the Lord. Throughout your career, you will experience crises of confidence, exasperation, frustration, unreasonable parents, troubled students, bad classes, poor liturgies. You will be misquoted, misrepresented and for some periods of time, mistrusted. But you will also get the unparalleled gift to see the world with wonder again, through the eyes of young people. You will be made a confidante by a young person seeking advice, feel the joy of a weak student who does well on an assignment, cheer for your students in athletic contests, beam with a near parents’ pride as your students graduate. To keep yourself rooted, to keep your ideas fresh, to be the kind of faithful person our young people need to see firsthand, stay close to the Lord, both in your daily prayer and in the reception of the sacraments. If you do, the Lord will bless you in your work and you will go to bed each night exhausted, but with a smile on your face.

 

  1. Be yourself.  If you’re young, you’ve probably never been called Mr. Jones or Ms. Smith, and that will take some getting used to.  But you can be yourself within this role. I have never agreed with the maxim “Don’t let them see you smile until Thanksgiving.”  The fact is, students respond better to authenticity. It’s OK to laugh at something the students say which is amusing—in fact, it’s quite disarming to them. It’s OK to let the students see you having fun. 

 

  1. Admit your mistakes and learn from them. Zero in on your strengths, not your weaknesses. (Remember — nobody’s perfect!) Principals also suffer from human frailty and need time to learn. School leaders need to be supported not weakened by behavior which is destructive to the Catholic School community.
  2. Remember, it’s not about you; it’s about the students. So learn how to spell the word “concupiscence”. Concupiscence is a tendency to put yourself first. Only divine grace enables us to rise above it. But unless you declare war on it, you are bound to succumb to the illusion that teaching is all about you.
  3. Be professional. Model desired attitudes and behavior. Make sure you dress in professional attire. Remember that you teach students first, and then you teach whatever academic discipline you learned. You are a role model for the children and partner with the parents in the formation of each child.  
  4. Empower your students and engage them in the teaching/learning process.  Listen — both to what the kids are saying and to what they’re not saying. Make sure  that assessments are frequent and fair, that work is graded in a timely fashion, and that classes are well prepared and taught from beginning to end  – every minute matters!
  5. Don’t “go it alone.” Get to know all the teachers in your school and make friends with the cooks, custodians, aides, and secretaries. We are all formators of children, just each with a different role to play. Volunteer to share projects and ideas, and don’t be afraid to ask others to share their ideas with you. Understand that the learning process involves everyone — teachers, students, colleagues, and parents — and get everyone involved. Seek the advice of your colleagues, share your frustrations with them, and ask questions. Remember we are promised that whenever two or more are gathered in His name that he will be with us to enlighten and guide us.
  6. Dive in! Don’t be a person who clocks in at 7:30 and clocks out at 4 each day. Come to afterschool activities. Nothing connects you with your students faster than to be able to say “Nice hit,” or “great singing,” or “I was impressed with your artwork at the show.” You can’t be at everything; but make a point some days to just stop in at after school care to say hello.  You’ll see kids in a whole new light, and I think you’ll enjoy it, too.
  1. Pray for your students and their families. Your most important work is to bring a piece of heaven into the classroom with you. Think of your roll book as your prayer group. Never open it without praying for your young scholars and their families.
  2. Think before you speak; if you do, you won’t speak very often, for there is a great deal to think about in education. Have the courage to try something else if what you’re doing isn’t working.
  1. Thirty plus years from now, your students will not remember all that you taught them, but they will remember who you were and how you treated them You have a choice to become a minister of justice or an angel of peace. Be an angel of peace.
  2. All the knowledge we give our students is in vain if they receive it without knowing they are good and loved by God. Each day is an opportunity to channel the divine love. Don’t waste an opportunity to do so. Every minute counts!
  3. Keep a journal and take pictures. Some highly regarded Catholic school teachers share excerpts from their journal and images from the week with parents in a weekly email blast.
  4. Remember that a good day is not necessarily smooth, painless and hassle free.

May God bless you during these last days of summer especially as you formulate a vision for your school and work with teachers to prepare for the return of our young scholars and saints in formation.

Sacramentals

Sacramentals

Note: This post is from srmarymichael.wordpress.com

Sacramentals – Things that draw our minds and hearts to the Lord.  To help us observe Lent well, we here at school wear crucifixes daily.  The children typically leave them on their desks when they head home at the end of the day, lest they be forgotten the next morning at home.  They are little simple crucifixes, but they remind us of Jesus, and they get us used to wearing such sacramentals.  Have you considered wearing something similar during Lent?  A friend of mine teaches in the public school system but always wears a crucifix or Marian symbol.

Sisters of Our Lady Immaculate

Sisters of Our Lady Immaculate

Note: This post is from msgrfoy.com

Sister St. Henry Moloney was the sister of Fr. Oliver Moloney.  She spent many years in Missionary work and spoke perfect Spanish. She helped found of the Sisters of Our Lady Immaculate.  My friend Fr. Oliver Moloney and I visited her at their Marian Residence Retirement Home in Cambridge Ontario when we were driving to the first Call to Holiness Conference in the USA in 1990s.

Educators Need to Be Reminded: The Truth Will Set You Free

Educators Need to Be Reminded: The Truth Will Set You Free

Note: This post is from aleteia.org.

“Father, ‘truth’ is divisive!”

They spoke to me slowly, gently, yet firmly—as if I were a child being warned about the dangers of a hot stove.

I was a young priest then, on a committee to rewrite a school’s mission statement. I was admonished after pointing out that the proposed mission statement included the word “diversity” three times, but not the word “truth.” (Back then, “Diversity is our strength!” was not yet a slogan. Instead we had: “UNITY + DIVERSITY = UNIVERSITY!”)

– See more at: http://aleteia.org/2016/06/15/educators-need-to-be-reminded-the-truth-will-set-you-free/#sthash.PGUNiODm.dpuf

Bullying in Catholic Schools

Bullying in schools is as much a problem today as it has ever been. Perhaps even moreso than it used to be. But how do Catholic schools handle the problem? How do you teach and reprimand in the Catholic way? In the last few years, there has been an increase in a technique called Virtue-Based Restorative Discipline. “This faith-filled approach to addressing bullying and other disruptive behaviors stands as an exemplary model for our parishes, homes and schools.” says Reverend Robert J. Carlson, Archbishop of St. Louis

 

Designed to minimize the anti-social behaviors that can so often cause problems in schools, while simultaneously increase faith practices. Developed in the Archdiocese of St. Louis, it focuses on the root cause of bullying and other harmful behaviors, rather than punitive repercussions after the fact. It focuses on inspiring children to perform acts of kindness, lay a foundation of spirituality in children and parents alike, helping teachers to recognize and understand warning signs, and create accountability and responsibility for preventing and solving conflicts with the children themselves.

 

And rather than just focusing on addressing the issues of bullying, it focuses instead on leading a life in the way of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, a better, kinder way of living. By asking children “How do you see the God in others?” you take them out of their own mindset and immediate circumstances and lead them towards a more forgiving and generous way of thinking.

 

The Catholic Education Office offers training in this program now, and over 200 educators from the Archdiocese of St. Louis and seven other surrounding states can attend comprehensive training in VBRD, School teams will be trained to prevent and reduce antisocial behaviors through virtue education and restorative practices, resulting in a consistent message that upholds the dignity of the human person. “This is our fourth year for this unique training,” said Lynne Lang, director of School Climate at the Catholic Education Office. “Our returning schools are a testimony to the success of this work and reflective of the archdiocesan beONE initiative goals.”

 

For a full list of resources on this program, visit VirtueBase.org for books and press that can help you bring this into your own classrooms and schools. You can also look there for information on keynote presentations for diocesan retreats, workshops, training services, or presentations for faculty, parents, or students at that same website.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0DdUTXFU4sg

Pope To Youth: Find Jesus In Ecumenism

Pope To Youth: Find Jesus In Ecumenism

Note: This post is from catholictruthblog.com

Click here to read Zenit report

Comment:

All the blether about youthful “restlessness” reminds me of the assumption, commonly heard in conversation, that all teenagers are rebellious. I questioned it when I was a teenager myself and I question it now. It seems designed to ignite rebellion in young people. And sadly, only a minority, seem to be mature enough to not want to be “restless” or “rebellious”.

Well Begun, Half Done: 10 Benefits of Catholic Education

Well Begun, Half Done: 10 Benefits of Catholic Education

Kids Design and Build Backyard Chapel

Note: This post is from the National Catholic Register. Please check out the link for photos and more work from them!

by Susan Klemond 06/09/2016

Standing outside a cottage in a St. Paul, Minn., backyard with three small altar servers on the feast of the Visitation, Father Lenny Andrie prepared to process in for the inaugural Mass in a chapel that the servers and other children had built themselves.

 

As the procession entered, about 20 kids and adults rose from diminutive handcrafted wooden benches, singing Immaculate Mary in the pale-yellow chapel that Father Andrie, parochial vicar at St. Joseph in West St. Paul, had just blessed.
Inside, white sheets covered the walls and ceiling, and 14 squares of wood, some bearing faint images of the Stations of the Cross, were promises of a more permanent chapel interior. But everything was in place for Mass: a wooden altar covered by a white cloth, crucifix, candles, pictures and cruets.
During the Mass, children in Sunday clothes read, sang and brought up the gifts in the chapel that they had conceived, built, decorated and named “Visitation Catholic Church,” with the goal of pleasing God.
The story of the chapel is one of children’s faith, love of the Eucharist and eagerness to learn new skills. It’s also about a family learning to trust more in God’s provision.
Four summers ago, Andrew Lehnen and his next-door neighbor, Mary Marsolais, looked at the dilapidated shed —formerly a pigeon coop — that Andrew’s parents planned to remove from their backyard, and the two young friends thought, “Why not turn it into a chapel?
Using the driveway as a table, Andrew, then 8, and Mary, then 9, drew up the first plans on a sheet of paper. They wanted a real chapel, not a clubhouse or fort, because Andrew was inspired after making his first Communion, and the children, with their siblings, had grown up “playing Mass.”
“It just sounded amazing,” Mary said.

It was so amazing that no one believed the children could make it happen. But their parents consented, neighborhood families helped, and, after four years, they were ready at the end of May to welcome Father Andrie.
Andrew’s parents, Randy and Jennifer Lehnen, helped with the work and materials, but in the early stages, they kept their backup plan in mind: to turn the old shed into a greenhouse — or a better shed.
Andrew “has always had this engineering brain, and [is] full of ideas, so I’m not surprised that he came up with the idea; but he was 8 years old, and we were like, ‘Okay, when is this actually going to happen?’” Jennifer said.
But the kids were serious. Andrew and Mary, along with their siblings and friends, gutted the 10-by-16-foot shed —which was “the funnest part,” according to Andrew. In a scene reminiscent of an old barn raising, neighborhood kids and their parents moved the wooden frame to a spot behind the family’s garage.
“The hardest part of the project was probably just keeping positive thoughts that, ‘It’s still going to happen, and it’s not something that’s going to melt away,’” Mary said. “Just totally believing it’s going to happen.”
In the years that followed, the kids helped install the walls, siding, roof and floor. It was more work than they anticipated, Andrew said.
During this time, Randy was frequently job-hunting and could give the children more help in finding materials, teaching them and providing other support. It was a time when the family grew in their dependence on God and his provision — not only for building materials for the chapel, but for their basic needs, Jennifer said.
Nearly every material for the chapel, except the siding, was donated or found. Family and friends donated windows, rugs, a keyboard and skylights.
Local parishes offered U.S. and Vatican flags and a kneeler. Wooden pallets found on a curb became the foundation for sanctuary flooring. An electric chandelier from a nearby house that had been sold was converted for use with candles, and plywood was gathered after a winter sports event.
A garage sale brought in funds the kids hope to use for future additions, such as statues. Also on their wish list: heating and electricity, materials for the interior, and a bell tower. In the meantime, the kids talk about the chapel as their own place to pray, a place for which they still have a lot of plans.

 

Disability, Education, and Faith

“Each of us, sooner or later, is called to face — at times painfully — frailty and illness, both our own and those of others,” said Pope Francis on June 12th, when he gave a homily celebrating Mass for the Year of Mercy jubilee of the sick and persons with disabilities.

 

Celebrating love and solidarity over focus on physical perfection and hiding away those who do not fit a standard or idea as a way to make the world a better place, His Holiness also said “The world does not become better because only apparently ‘perfect’ — not to mention fake — people live there, but when human solidarity, mutual acceptance and respect increase.”

 

Assisted at the altar by several alter servers with Down Syndrome, the Mass took place in St. Peter’s Square, and showcased several other people with disabilities including a reading of Scripture written in Braille, and Pope Francis made clear that while limitations are part of being human, we don’t always understand that. We have this idea that “sick or disabled persons cannot be happy, since they cannot live the lifestyle held up by the culture of pleasure and entertainment.”

 

“In an age when care for one’s body has become an obsession and a big business, anything imperfect has to be hidden away, since it threatens the happiness and serenity of the privileged few and endangers the dominant model,” the pope said. “In some cases, we are even told that it is better to eliminate them as soon as possible, because they become an unacceptable economic burden in time of crisis.”

 

He goes on to talk about that those attitudes hindering the real meaning of life, which “has to do with accepting suffering and limitations,” and that those, the sick and weak, cast aside by society, are exactly the ones that Jesus loved most. Love is the only real path to being happy. “How many disabled and suffering persons open their hearts to life again as soon as they realize they are loved! How much love can well up in a heart simply with a smile!”

 

“Each one of us has a different way of understanding things. One understands one way and another in a different manner, but we can all know God.”

 

This is something I believe we must focus on in education as well. There are any number of issues facing children in health, access, and ability. But to truly teach a great and faith-based education, one must put accessibility and diversity at the forefront.
“Differences are a richness because I have something and you have something else and by putting the two together we have something more beautiful, something greater,” the pope said. Diversity is not something to fear, but is “the path to improvement, to be more beautiful and richer.”