St. Cecilia, Patron Saint of Musicians, Pray for Us

Tomorrow, November 22, we celebrate the feast day of St. Cecilia, the patron saint of musicians. I’ve made no secret on this blog about my insistence that music and singing must be a part of our catechetical ministry. I also believe that we have a largely untapped embarrassment of riches right under our noses in the form of young people who are adept at playing various instruments such as cello, flute, classical guitar, or piano. These […]

Patron Saints Election Results

At the time I write this, my group of seventh graders has narrowed down the pool of saintly candidates to three as we move toward electing a patron saint for our classroom. The finalists are St. Mary, St. Francis Xavier, and Blessed Miguel Pro. Mary is polling as the current leader, but who knows what the final tally will say. You may recall that when I originally shared this activity of electing a patron saint, […]

St. Charles Borromeo, Patron Saint of Catechists

In her book, My Best Teachers Were Saints, author Susan H. Swetnam writes about St. Charles Borromeo, the patron saint of catechists, whose feast day we celebrate today. She explains that he supervised the writing of an accurate catechism, rewrote liturgical texts and music, and began enforcing clerical reform in Rome after the Council of Trent. She writes that he was, “an energetic reformer who took ‘always the most austere and stringent interpretation’ of the […]

Halloween, All Souls, Purgatory, and the Communion of Saints

“I see dead people!” Remember that famous line from the 1999 movie The Sixth Sense, in which a boy, played by Haley Joel Osment, reveals to the character played by Bruce Willis that he sees dead people? For many years now, I’ve been facetiously telling people that, if you see or talk to dead people, you’re not crazy, you’re Catholic! An important part of our belief system—our Catholic vision of reality or our cosmology—is our belief in […]

There’s a Saint for That

Remember when the iPhone started appearing all over TV with its catch phrase, “There’s an app for that?” No matter the question, the iPhone had an app to answer it. In a similar vein, we Catholics are lucky because, no matter what our need or failure, worry or struggle, there’s a saint for that. And we don’t need an expensive device to get in touch with a heavenly mentor and friend; we can visit a […]

A Litany of Saints for All Saints Day

As you know, All Saints Day—November 1—is just a couple of weeks away! With that in mind, here is a Litany of Saints that you can use for any age group. What I like about this particular version (by John Becker) is that the people’s responses are so easy to sing. This video also provides some nice images of the saints. Check out All Saints Day resources from Loyola Press, including lesson plans, videos, and activities.

Friends, Not Statues: Three Ways to Teach About the Saints

There are many ways we can teach about the saints. We can ask young people to write a report about their favorite saints. We can have the class choose a patron saint. We can include facts about saints in our weekly lessons. But when I think about the way I talk about my friends, I don’t talk about them as if they were a collection of facts from a Wikipedia page. I don’t say what […]

Electing a Patron Saint for the Classroom

In this election year, I’ve decided to use a general outline of the political process as a multi-week activity for my seventh-grade class to learn about the saints. I’ll frame this lesson as selecting a patron saint for our year together. This will be an opportunity to look to the saints as role models who exhibit heroic virtues worthy of examples of the Christian life. First, we’ll meet the pool of candidates. I’ll help the […]

“Smiles Generate Smiles”: Sharing Mother Teresa in the Classroom

Mother Teresa of Calcutta was one of the most beloved people in the world during her life. Her life, words, and works are admired by Christians and non-Christians alike. Since her canonization occurs during the school year, catechists have a special opportunity to teach about her life to their students. My third graders will be learning about Mother Teresa by listening to her story, hearing from a parent who has a personal connection to her, and […]

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