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The first task in each session is to establish a sense of welcome and
hospitality. The second task is to begin the session with the child's human
experience, i.e. the child's "story." A Bible should be enthroned
prominently in the room. Gather around the Word for prayer.
At the start of the session, ask the young people to think about and then share answers to the following question:
How have you worked with others to try to help make a difference, to make our families, our neighborhood and the world better?
Write answers on the newsprint or dry erase board.
Let us pray.
Good and caring Father, you love all of your children. Jesus, help us see your face in others. Holy Spirit, help us to work to end poverty and promote life, justice and peace by speaking up for those in need in our community, our nation, and our world. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Students are seated.
Catechist takes Bible from enthronement and proclaims reading. Be sure reading
is marked in advance.
Proclaim the reading (Matthew 25:31-40):
A reading from the Gospel of Matthew…
After the reading a brief period of silence follows. Then, the catechist asks the children these or similar questions:
After the children's initial response, proclaim the reading again.
A reading from the Gospel of Matthew…
The bishops encourage us all to "build a world of respect for human life and dignity, where justice and peace prevail" (Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship, no. 57). They say that everyone—even young people—have a role to play.
The catechist should explain that we will now hear some stories of children being Jesus' disciples by working to make a positive difference in their own communities.
Read the elementary storybooks, Green Street Park and Drop by Drop, which offer great examples of Catholic young people making a positive change in the local and global communities. These books from the U.S. Catholic bishops' Department of Justice, Peace and Human Development, are available for order through the Loyola Press website.
An alternate option is for the catechist to read the following examples of children working to transform their communities, from the WeAreSaltAndLight.org. Depending on the students' grade level, the catechist may wish to paraphrase the examples and then share them with the young people as examples of what youth are doing in other parts of the country.
After sharing the story or stories, ask the young people:
Next, as a group, identify an issue that many of the young people care about.
Then visit the PovertyUSA or CRS Education web sites for age-appropriate activities that you can use to help the young people learn more about the issue they care about. Be sure to help the young people to understand the experiences of others who face the issue using videos or other resources that are available on the websites.
Brainstorm with the young people about what action they might take to put their own faith in action. Beforehand, the catechist may wish to review the U.S. Catholic bishops' Two Feet of Love in Action model and handout so that he or she may help to encourage ideas about both Charitable Works activities (which meet short-term, immediate needs) and Social Justice activities (which seek long-term, systemic change).
Here are some examples of Social Justice responses:
Return to the adult gathering or return to the prayer circle. Recall the table image used in the opening exercise. Bring the children together and quiet them for prayer.
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