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 […]

Celebrating the Canonization of Mother Teresa

In just a few short weeks (September 4, 2016), we will be celebrating the canonization of Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta—a saint who personifies and embodies the humble mercy we are focusing on during this Year of Mercy. This celebration is so timely and fitting as we find ourselves in the midst of a long and frustrating presidential campaign characterized by bluster, braggadocio, and bombast (How’s that for alliteration?!). Mother Teresa—all four feet and eleven inches […]

Hearts to Love and Hands to Serve: Celebrating the Life of Mother Teresa

Mother Teresa was officially recognized as a saint on September 4, 2016. Her life’s work with the poorest of the poor in Calcutta and throughout the world inspires those of us who hear Christ’s call to spread the love of God to each person we meet. Mother Teresa’s canonization is a great time to celebrate her life with students in our faith-formation classes, especially in our continued celebration of the Year of Mercy. Mother Teresa embraced […]

Saint Anthony of Padua

I was sitting in a meeting at my parish, and in the corner of the room sat a life-size statue of Saint Anthony of Padua. Several years ago, the statue was moved up from a basement storage room, and there he now sits, with the baby Jesus in his arms. Our image of St. Anthony is a bit chipped and the paint has faded, but it’s always nice to know that he’s around. Maybe some […]

Mary, Mother of Catechists

The Blessed Virgin Mary is so many things to us: she is our mother, our help, our comfort, and our joy. She is our model disciple; she is the “untier of knots.” She is also our model catechist. Here are three ways we can be more like Mary as catechists. 1. Say “Yes.” When I invite parishioners to prayerfully consider becoming a catechist, their first response is often “Who, me?” followed by expressions of doubt, […]

Four Ways to Teach About the Saints

I once had a student ask why we spent so much time talking about the saints; did he not attend faith formation classes to learn about Jesus? I told him that this is precisely why we learned about the saints: “our communion with the saints joins us to Christ” (Catechism of the Catholic Church 957). The saints reveal much to us about God, and they give us an example of how to live as followers […]

Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day the Catholic Way

Having grown up in Ireland for the first 23 years of my life, I have a simple request: Stop the St. Patrick’s Day madness! For the love of St. Patrick, it is not Paddy’s Day (or Patty’s Day, which is even worse), but Saint Patrick’s Day. Some of the traditions that I see today associated with St. Patrick’s Day are so devoid of meaning to be almost comical. In Ireland, we do not celebrate St. […]

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