About this Blog

This project arises from religious education courses at the Institute of Pastoral Studies at Loyola University Chicago but can be opened to other programs as well. Interested professors of religious education or faith formation should e-mail edaily@luc.edu if they want their students to be included.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Help for Haiti...from one.org

Like millions of people around the world I've been shocked by the terrible events in Haiti.
Only now is the true scale of the disaster emerging. Reports now suggest as many as 50,000 people may have died, with hundreds of thousands made homeless.
The work ahead to recover from this tragedy is immense. So here's our goal: $890 million for Haiti. That’s how much Haiti owes to the International Monetary Fund, the Inter-American Development Bank, and a handful of others.

Sign the petition below to ask Haiti's creditors to act quickly and cancel Haiti's debts:

As Haiti begins to rebuild we can help by lifting this debt.
Together as ONE we can make a difference!


Tuesday, April 28, 2009

A Review of the Website www.catecheticalresources.com

This website from Ignatius Press is very helpful to the catechist. Under the resources tab, activities, lesson plans, or just games are divided into Preschool-Kindergarten, grades 1-3, 4-6, 7-8, and high school. There are 34 different topics to choose from scanning the whole range of catechesis. It is so user friendly. I find their materials to be doctrinally sound and the student reception enthusiastic.

I especially like their 29 page book on Baptism. This downloadable book covers all aspects of the sacrament and has many interactive pages of differing activities that are designed to educate the children on the sacrament in the 1st through 3rd grade levels.

I have used this site so many times as a stimulus for lesson planning as well as a springboard for creative focusing activities.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Christian Rap...Does it really work?

Within the last month, I attended a Youth Open Mic Night at my church, Vernon Park Church of God. This event featured a not only the talents of the youth that wanted to perform that evening but a Christian DeeJay, a rap group, and rock guitarist. What a combination huh?. At this event, I analyzed the reactions of the young people there and what I noticed is that they were not as drawn and enthused as the leaders might have thought.

This made me think of how some attempt to evangelize to young people with the use of popular culture. I believe it was Heft who displayed how young people believe that the Divine is not confined to the church setting. So, if that is the case, it is not necessary to use things in pop culture, such as rap, to draw young people. The concept of Christian rap has not been very successful throughout the years and I believe that it is partially a result of this. At the Open Mic event, it seemed that the young people were more concerned with the skill level of the rapper, in comparison with secular artists, as opposed to the message.

I dont want to be misunderstood. I am not saying that Christian rap is useless, but I am questioning it effectiveness in evangelization. Grant it, there are many young people that enjoy Christian rap, but it's growth in popularity hasn't been significant. Since rap is a very popular form of music in popular and secular culture, it would seem that Christian rap would have a similar success but, it hasnt.

Our Lady of La Vang

In writing a lesson plan for use with Vietnamese-American Catholics, I utilized this prayer to Our Lady of La Vang. The website from which I pulled the prayer tells the story of Our Lady of La Vang, who dates back to 1798 and her first appearance during a great persecution of Vietnamese Catholics.

Peter Phan, in a lecture at Seton Hall on Asian-American Catholics spoke to their "different way of being Christian." Phan mentioned Pope John Paul II's "snapshot of what he calls the 'Asian soul...." which draws a distinctive portrait of the Asian-American Catholic. However, I chose this website and this prayer for two other of their "different ways of being Christian." These are :
1. the Asian people's cultivation of popular devotions, of which commitment to Our Lady of La Vang is one
2. the " faith of Asian Churches having been tested in the crucible of suffering and even persecution." On June 19, 1988. Pope John Paul II in the canonizing ceremony of the 117 Vietnamese martyrs, publicly and repeatedly recognized the importance and significance of the Lady of La Vang and expressed a desire for the rebuilding of the La Vang Basilica to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the first apparition of the Lady of La Vang in August of 1998.

This website contains the history of Our Lady of La Vang as well as photos, paintings and drawings of her, in addition to the prayer. I found it to be a resource appropriate for use with Vietnamese-American Catholics.

The Latino Holiday Book

The Latino Holiday Book by Valerie Menard is a secular book of celebrations and traditions of Hispanic-Americans written by Valerie Menard and published in 2004 by Marlowe & Company. The book is patterned on the seasons of the year, which are titled in the table of contents using both their Spanish and English names. I resourced the chapter on the Feast of the Virgin of Guadalupe, "the Revered Mother for a Native People" for an intergenerational lesson for Hispanic-Americans.

The chapter explains the context in which the Virgin appeared, discusses her "trendiness among mainstream consumers and non-Catholics"(TLHB p.158,) and shares a detailed story of Juan Diego's meeting with her. An analysis of the self-portrait of the Virgin on the tilma is described, followed by similar appearances of virgins or goddesses in Spanish and indigenous Aztec culture. The chapter concludes with a Prayer to the Virgin in Spanish, also saying that "the fact that she appeared to a recently converted Indian, that she spoke to him in his native language, and that her image reflects the mestizaje (mixing of the races) is culturally important. To people of all faiths and all economic conditions, the Virgin of Guadalupe offers hope."(TLHB p. 168.)

Charles Dahm, in his book, Parish Ministry in a Hispanic Community, speaks of a community of teaching ministries. One element he discusses in teaching religion
is language, especially in teaching those whose first language is Spanish. "Pope Paul VI noted: "Evanglization loses much of its force and effectiveness if it does not take into condiseration the actual people whom it addresses, if it does not use their language...." (PMinHC p. 213-214) While TLHB is not a religion book, it does discuss Hispanic religious holidays, and it does incorporate some Spanish language making it appealing to those of an Hispanic background.

Dahm also discusses the importance of conserving and celebrating popular religiosity. Hispanics celebrate religious holidays as times of "social events and public demonstrations of faith." (PMinHC p.216) The lives of the saints are dramatized, the stories of the Bible are brought to life, the posadas are celebrated. The chapter on the Virgin of Guadalupe from The Latino Holiday Book does bring Our Lady of Guadalupe to life and gives enough resource material for others to use for celebrating her.

The Latino Holiday Book is an interesting, informative, culturally appropriate resource book to use in working with the Hispanic-American community. However, because it is a secular book, it should not be used as a primary resource for religious education needs. It is marvelous to use as supplementary material, but not as primary material for this purpose.

Catechetical Programs in the Spanish Language


After taking a course on faith formation, religious education and cultures, I would question those large religious educational publishing houses that simply translate the same course of catechesis into the Spanish language for Hispanic Catholic Communities. Since it is predicted that the Hispanic community will compromise 1/3 of the Catholic population in the U.S., I know that religious education programs have to do much more than merely translate what works for Euro-Americans into the Spanish language.


Charles Dahm (Parish Ministry in a Hispanic Community, Paulist Press) points out the various contexts of Hispanic culture and what has worked in a predominantly Hispanic parish. Taking the directives of Gaudium et Spes that each human community, with its specific history and geography, has its own inheritance of wisdom and its own way of fostering basic human values (paragraph 53). As religious education instructors, one has to take all aspects of a community’s culture and ways of fostering basic human values into the plans for catechesis. 

Renewing the Vision

A framework for Catholic Youth Ministry 


In James Heft’s Passing on the Faith (2006; Fordham University Press), Christian Smith states that modernity’s differentiation of institutional spheres, rationalization of social life, materialism and naturalism embedded in capitalism and science, liberal disestablishment of religion in politics, and other disenchanting and secularizing modern social forces are often said to corrode religious sensibilities and undermine religious authority, making the religious socialization of the next generation all the more difficult. (p.55) Sociologist Nancy Ammerman raises the question, “Will our children have a faith to guide them?” (p.37)  Will they?

Even though “Renewing the Vision” is aimed at adolescents, I like to give this book to all the catechists that I work with from K-8th grades. 

This work, condensed from the bishops’ 1976 document, “A Vision of Youth Ministry”, is a concise treatise on what is needed in youth ministry. It defines 8 components can be used across the board in all ages of catechesis. In each of the 8 ministries: Advocacy, Catechesis, Community Life, Evangelization, Justice and Service, Leadership Development, Pastoral Care, and Prayer and Worship; goals are established that contribute to the YM’s vision and enhance the possibilities of lesson plans that include these well defined components. 

The last part of the book gives a guiding image for ministry with adolescents using the story of the walk to Emmaus Lk 24:13-35 with its emphasis on the relationship between young disciples and their Lord. A relationship that is characterized by presence, listening, faith sharing, and celebration. (p.49).  The Emmaus story will continue to guide the Church’s ministry with adolescents, but a new image is emerging, the image of young people with a mission.