My "Last Lecture" (No, I'm Not Dying)

This coming Monday evening is the last session that I will be teaching this current 8th grade class (the following week is a closing Mass and awards ceremony). As part of my plan for this Monday, I’ve put together my own “last lecture.”

By now, I’m sure you’re familiar with the YouTube phenomenon, Randy Pausch’s “Last Lecture” that he gave to his class as the Carnegie Mellon University after he had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and knew that he had a very short time to live. He knew this was his last chance to speak to his students and he wanted to say a “few” things.

Inspired by that, I have prepared my own “last lecture” – thankfully, I am in very good health and will, God-willing, teach for many years to come. However, this is the last time I will be able to speak to this particular group of kids, and I’ve got a few things I want to say.

Now, normally, I do not lecture. And this particular “lecture” is probably only about 20 minutes long…I don’t plan to do all the work that evening. My lecture is about making sure that the young people live their lives in the context of the Paschal Mystery – making Jesus their “horizon.”

Theologian Karl Rahner spoke of God as the “infinite horizon” meaning that God is not simply one of many realities that we pack into our lives but rather is the context in which our lives are lived. God can be found in all things.

I put together a PowerPoint presentation, consisting mainly of visual images to capture their imagination. I begin by introducing them to John F. Kennedy Jr. who died in a plane crash in 1999. It is believed that he lost control of his plane because it was a hazy evening and he was flying over the waters of Chesapeake Bay – with no clear horizon, he became disoriented. I go on to talk about how we can and need to make Jesus our horizon so that we do not get disoriented in life by the many things that can cloud our vision.

JFK Jr's fatal plan crash was most likely caused by disorientation - he flew at dusk, over water, on a hazy night: NO HORIZON

The PowerPoint includes notes for each slide and I am happy to share it with you if you think you could use it. It is most appropriate for older children (junior high or high school) and adults and, with some minor editing, can be used in a variety of settings, not just as a “last lecture.”

If you would like a copy of this PowerPoint, send me an email: joe@catechistsjourney.com

About Joe Paprocki 2344 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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