Too often we think the only time to teach about the saints is during November or the end of October as we lead up to All Saints Day. While that is indeed a great time to talk about all the saints, opportunities to learn about the saints exist all year long. As we settle into the new year, let’s look at some of those opportunities.
In January, many people like the tradition of picking a patron saint for the year, as Barb Gilman explains here. Your class can select individual holy friends or a patron for the entire class.
February and March bring Lent and its call for renewed prayer lives, fasting, and almsgiving. The saints provide many examples of how to live these Lenten pillars. Bob Burnham considers just three in Lent with the Saints.
Since April falls within the Easter Season, activities related to the earliest disciples are particularly relevant this month. Learning about the Apostles as well as other early followers, such as St. Mary Magdalene, St. Stephen, and St. Paul, can show how these early saints took Christ’s mission to the world.
May finds many parishes celebrating First Holy Communions. This might be a time to introduce children to St. Pius X, who believed children as young as age seven should receive this sacrament. Or talk about younger saints of the Church, such as Dominic Savio or Blessed Imelda Lambertini.
In the summer months of June, July, and August, most religious education programs are not in session. Continue to introduce children to saints during this time, though. If you gather your families for a summer event, include an activity about a saint as part of the event. (Saints from warmer climates might be a good theme for such an event.) You can also send home packets with children to encourage them to learn about saints celebrated during the summer, such as St. Ignatius of Loyola.
September brings children back to the classroom, so any saint devoted to education would be good inspiration as classes resume. Look up the patron saint of your school or parish, and be sure kids can tell that saint’s story.
October finds many popular saints on the calendar, including St. Thérèse of Lisieux, St. Francis of Assisi, and St. Teresa of Ávila. We also celebrate two pope-saints in October: John Paul II and John XXIII.
November starts with the Feast of All Saints, which is a wonderful time to remember many different saints, famous and not-so-famous. The Which American Saint Are You? online quiz is one fun way to spur discussion about our holy companions, and there are other articles to help you in celebrating the saints here.
As we enter into December, personal calendars fill up with many Christmas-themed activities. But the saints of Advent can inspire us to enjoy the quiet of the season and celebrate in different ways before we reach the Feast of the Nativity. Consider St. Nicholas, St. Lucy, and Our Lady of Guadalupe and the traditions associated with their feast days.
Looking at the lives and examples of the saints throughout the year helps children encounter the communion of saints in ways fun and meaningful. Let’s resolve this year to incorporate saints’ stories in our classes and inspire young people to learn from those who have gone before us in faith.
How do you incorporate the saints into your classroom? What are some of your favorite saints activities to do with children?
In the Loyola Press Christ Our Life program, a saint’s story is featured in every chapter.