Last night, we introduced the 8th graders to the topic of Church history, by way of a Powerpoint presentation. All 5 classes came together once again and all 5 catechists divided up the presentation, each of us taking a time period and highlighting some of the major events that took place during that time. Throughout the presentation, the young people were filling in a worksheet with key names and dates.
For me, the highlight of the evening was listening to fellow catechist, Chris, who, in describing the role of the Church in the Dark Ages explained that all of us go through difficult times in our lives when everything is thrown into chaos: we suffer the death of a loved one; we move to a new home; we start a new school, and so on. During those chaotic times, someone usually steps forward and brings calm and stability: a parent, a teacher, a friend. In the same way, during the chaotic times of the early middle ages, many Christian heroes (such as St. Benedict and Pope Gregory the Great) stepped forward to provide much-needed stability.
I thought that this was such an excellent way of linking Church history with our personal lives. Well done, Chris!
It was satisfying to see the kids behave well for the most part over the 75 minute presentation. They grew more interested as we touched on more recent history. For example, they were pretty impressed of the slide showing Pope John Paul II, during his 1979 visit, standing atop the roof of a Catholic high school in Chicago, only a few miles from where we ourselves were meeting.
Likewise, they were intrigued by the fact that John Kennedy is the only Catholic president in our nation’s history and it led to a brief discussion about the place of Catholics in our predominantly Protestant country and the need for us to know our faith well.
This presentation will give the kids a nice foundation (and a sense of chronology) for the upcoming chapters of the textbook which covers Church history in more depth.
I made the church history Powerpoint available last year…if you missed that, send me an email and I’ll be glad to send it to you. This was the first year that all 5 of us did it together and I thought it made for a very good experience.