An Extraordinary Evening with Jesus of Nazareth

Last night, we had an extraordinary evening viewing a segment of Jesus of Nazareth. All of the 8th graders (5 classes) met in one of the parish “halls” – about 65 kids, 4 or 5 aides, and 5 catechists. Here are the details:

  • the DRE had arranged the seating to form 5 “pods” so that each class was slightly separated from the others. This proved very helpful in keeping the kids focused and preventing them from developing a “movie theater” mentality.
  • we provided a viewing guide for the kids: 15 questions that would be addressed throughout the video
  • I began by asking them what the phrase “showing your true colors” means. One young person explained that it means that, in a particular situation, your true identity is revealed. I explained that we come to know Jesus’ full identity in the crucifixion, when he showed the greatest love any human can have – selfless love. I then told them to watch the video actively since this was not a passive entertainment event but a learning experience.
  • We then proceeded to show the segment of Jesus of Nazareth beginning with Jesus carrying his cross. We paused at 15 different scenes and asked the questions that I posted just the other day.
  • The viewing, interspersed with discussion, lasted about 50 minutes. The kids were very quiet and the experience was in many ways prayerful. We even paused in silence at the moment when Jesus bowed his head and died, telling the kids that we pause and kneel in silence at this moment of the Passion on Palm Sunday and Good Friday.
  • I thoroughly enjoyed watching and listening to my fellow catechists as they took their turns leading discussion during and after the video. In particular, Mary Kay challenged the kids at the end of the video to pay extra special attention to the cross in church when they go to Mass on Sunday…it was a very fitting end to the evening.
  • Hats off to the kids who were extremely well-behaved. It was clearly a setting where adults were imparting their wisdom, knowledge, and faith in an adult manner to young adults. The kids responded by acting like young adults (for the most part…when I say things like that, it also goes without saying that there are always moments of kids being kids and needing to be corrected and last night was no different…but it’s nice when those moments are the exception)

This will be a good reference point for the rest of the year…it’s important that kids know the narrative of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection and this was just one way of accomplishing that.

About Joe Paprocki 2702 Articles
Joe Paprocki, DMin, is National Consultant for Faith Formation at Loyola Press, where, in addition to his traveling/speaking responsibilities, he works on the development team for faith formation curriculum resources including Finding God: Our Response to God’s Gifts and God’s Gift: Reconciliation and Eucharist. Joe has more than 35 years of experience in ministry and has presented keynotes, presentations, and workshops in more than 100 dioceses in North America. Joe is a frequent presenter at national conferences including the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress, the Mid-Atlantic Congress, and the National Conference for Catechetical Leadership. He is the author of numerous books, including the best seller The Catechist’s Toolbox, A Church on the Move, Under the Influence of Jesus, and Called to Be Catholic—a bilingual, foundational supplemental program that helps young people know their faith and grow in their relationship with God. Joe is also the series editor for the Effective Catechetical Leader and blogs about his experiences in faith formation at www.catechistsjourney.com.

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