Help Wanted: Need ideas on God for teens


#1

Lots of generalizations, please bear with me:

I have been teaching 8th grade Catechism and preparation for Confirmation since September and it has been a wonderful experience. However, as I get to know my 12 students better each week, I have found that they are absolutely lacking in their understanding of God in their lives. I think they live such secular, materialistic, pop culture laden American lives that they don’t have a sense of God in a micro/personal way. And I am not sure that they have such a good sense in a macro/big picture way either.

These are 13 and 14 year olds that are middle class. They attend good urban public schools and each one of them will continue in public high schools. They are well behaved in class and for the most part attentive. They seem to be learning but I suspect that they are not applying this at home, school, or in their daily lives. It seems like each Sunday morning, we have to take some time to “start over” and just when we get going…time’s up.

I’m NOT a crusader type, but on the other hand I see that after Confirmation, these kids may start drifting from the Church, and I pray that won’t happen. It’s up to their parents to be Catholic parents.

I’ll stop rambling and just hope that there are some great CAF ideas out there that I can offer that will be well received and valued. Thanks and God bless you all.


#2

[quote="fastenatingguy, post:1, topic:310738"]
Lots of generalizations, please bear with me:

I have been teaching 8th grade Catechism and preparation for Confirmation since September and it has been a wonderful experience. However, as I get to know my 12 students better each week, I have found that they are absolutely lacking in their understanding of God in their lives. I think they live such secular, materialistic, pop culture laden American lives that they don't have a sense of God in a micro/personal way. And I am not sure that they have such a good sense in a macro/big picture way either.

These are 13 and 14 year olds that are middle class. They attend good urban public schools and each one of them will continue in public high schools. They are well behaved in class and for the most part attentive. They seem to be learning but I suspect that they are not applying this at home, school, or in their daily lives. It seems like each Sunday morning, we have to take some time to "start over" and just when we get going....time's up.

I'm NOT a crusader type, but on the other hand I see that after Confirmation, these kids may start drifting from the Church, and I pray that won't happen. It's up to their parents to be Catholic parents.

I'll stop rambling and just hope that there are some great CAF ideas out there that I can offer that will be well received and valued. Thanks and God bless you all.

[/quote]

Do you have a certain curriculum that you must follow or do you have some leeway in what types of things you can do? In my experience growing up in the Catholic faith it was very difficult to really internalize anything and/or apply what I learned in any class to my home life, because my parents were not exactly well versed in helping me understand anything and/or didn't really care anyway (the whole cultural Catholic thing). So nothing really seemed "real" to me and therefore it was irrelevant to my life. The thing that's needed imho, is for what they're learning to be real to them. Anyone can stand in front of a room and say that the Eucharist is "the body, blood, soul, and divinity" or Jesus Christ and whatnot. I think JPII has provided us with so many real, contemporary examples of modern saints to emulate, that it might be a way to make things learned in class come alive for students. If students were to be assigned (or given a choice) of certain 20th Century saints and do a brief report on them connecting what is being learned in class to the Saint's life and how they put it into action, it might help. Also, it would force them to work on it outside of the classroom, to take it home, read a little bit about these Saint's and hopefully some of the things they wrote and/or said themselves, and just be immersed in their lives for a little bit of time. Sitting in class listening to someone is frankly boring, but when kids are unleashed to use their imagination and come up with something on their own they don't feel as limited and thus may not resent being there as much. It doesn't even have to be a written "essay" per se about the Saint, let them be creative, film a brief movie, act it out in a play, write/perform a song (if any are musically inclined), have THEM come up with a lesson plan, just set them free to explore the wonderful world of Catholicism without feeling imprisoned by "having to be" at a CCD class. Things like that get them involved and to take accountability for what they're learning.

Just some ideas and thoughts that I hope are helpful.

Let us know what you come up with and how it turns out!

God bless!

-Paul


#3

The greatest people are those that come to appreciate children, and Children in turn are the greatest teachers themselves.
Many have to admit in your role, they themselves havent been educated to what the Faith of the Church really is…and Catechism of the Catholic Church in many and assorted forms is a big answer…the Bible is sorted out in a way by, the Cathechim of the Catholic faith,which compile the knowledge of faith, and is indexed by hand books that break the facts down…

a Meditation book that gets into the heart of the Catholic faith, once second to the Bible but now forgotten is that of Thomas a Kepis, Imitation of Christ, or following of Christ, which should be pursuade in the appreciation to find an old one, that has the reflections and meditations in them…

another “old” book to seek is, catechims by examples, in different forms. they are old books that also reflect what the saints and holy people said, and they, will get to the heart of what it means to live as Jesus did.

we would encourage people to seek the old books that are forgotten, for they held a truth, that today is forgotten, devoid of the agendas of todays writings…


#4

Make use of the homilies etc from Pope Benedict XVI from the various world youth days…


#5

vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/speeches/2011/august/documents/hf_ben-xvi_spe_20110818_accoglienza-giovani2-madrid_en.html

vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/speeches/2011/august/documents/hf_ben-xvi_spe_20110820_veglia-madrid_en.html

vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/homilies/2011/documents/hf_ben-xvi_hom_20110821_xxvi-gmg-madrid_en.html

vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/travels/2011/index_madrid_en.htm

vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/travels/2008/index_australia_en.htm

vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/messages/youth/index_en.htm

vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/travels/index_outside-italy_en.htm

et al


#6

I really like that as well! Maybe even show some footage of WYD’s, and get them talking about why millions of kids around their age (maybe a little older) would travel across the world to see the Holy Father. Get them to realize its not “uncool” to be Catholic and follow your faith…to do some thinking about their place in the Catholic faith and show them they’re not alone.

God bless.

-Paul


#7

This seems to me to describe the vast majority of adults - and probably the vast majority of adults who ever lived. Honestly, if you are trying to convince anyone of the macro or micro sense of God in their lives, I think you are trying to do too much. God can do that; you can’t. I don’t think any one else really can. I think your job is to teach doctrine and the whys and wherefores of it. The kids will spend a lifetime finding God in their lives and the world - in a micro and macro sense. All you can really do is start them on an adult understanding of what the Church teaches as well as why She teaches it.

These are 13 and 14 year olds that are middle class. They attend good urban public schools and each one of them will continue in public high schools. They are well behaved in class and for the most part attentive. They seem to be learning but I suspect that they are not applying this at home, school, or in their daily lives.

And this is different from the rest of humanity exactly how?

It seems like each Sunday morning, we have to take some time to “start over” and just when we get going…time’s up.

Yep…that’s teaching…let alone learning a life lesson.

I’m NOT a crusader type, but on the other hand I see that after Confirmation, these kids may start drifting from the Church, and I pray that won’t happen.

Of course many of them will start drifting away. They are only now starting to question. You cannot prevent it. It’s the Holy Spirit who will lead them…not you, not the local priest and not their parents. You can certainly cooperate with the Holy Spirit, but each kid is different and each will need something different; and will be reached in a different way. Your job as catechist is to teach them the faith. Learning the why and what of doctrine - and where to look for answers is the best you can do…and, it is a great thing to teach. Do that well, and trust in God.

It’s up to their parents to be Catholic parents.

yep…but, even parents can’t be God. Nor, can you.


#8

Yeah, I agree with this for the most part. The kids haven’t lived long enough yet, and they are too immature. I think it will come in time for them, and if they have the info to refer back to then I think you’ve done a good job.

That being said you can use various methods to see that the info sticks with them. I do like the idea of working on Saints lives. It helps if they realize there were real people that lived in such holy ways. I also like the idea of using WYD homilies. I have one othe suggestion - the T3 Teen Timeline by Mark Hart. I used it with my kids at that age and they listened intently. The student books also had a lot of “extras” in them that was very valuable. Good luck!


#9

This is an excellent post.

May I ask if these kids have had an community service projects during their preparations? Many times, they can be the thing that catches a kid and makes them want to keep connected to their church, as well as to The Church. Too many churches have nothing for their young parishiners to “do” after confirmation, and that is why they lose them. They come to mass, but at their age, they need and want more.


#10

My class is one hour long once a week and the kids are much younger. I don’t know that much can be expected in such a short time. Let’s compare this to attending parochial school with morning Mass, prayers at the begining of each class, Euchristic adoration, daily religion classes plus the discussion of Catholicism in history etc.

I’ve sent home a list of movies e.g. CATHOLICISM, and others on miracles plus recommended books the kids should read. I’ve had the kids each present the saint representing their name.

The lesson plan goes out the window when the conversation takes off and I realize they need to know some things which they obviously don’t.


#11

Its a tough time to try to raise “Catholic” kids. I lost 5 of my 7 kids to the secular world. But then again they have never heard of St. Monica or St. Augustine. So they will be coming back someday if I pray hard enough.

We tried almost everything including WYD. JP II didn’t help. Our priest wouldn’t help.
Sorry to sound so negative but I do not put a lot of trust in CCD unless the FSSP is involved.


#12

There is a series of books by Amy Welborn, Prove it series(for teens), or another book series one is called Did Adam and Eve Have Belly Buttons? and I believe there is another one. Maybe you could discuss one of those questions each week–even announcing the one for the next week for them to think about. My daughter read them when she was young and enjoyed them.


#13

First of all, I have read that some Catholic teens are overwhelmed by the world once they get away from Catholic influences. Yes, it’s up to their parents but there’s evidence that some of their parents are not showing them a good example by accepting bad media in their homes or living lives that are Catholic on Sunday but not so much the rest of the week.

At one time, we lived in Christian communities. Not everyone was Catholic, but most had a shared sense of values and the few who were neutral or the bad apples were on the sidelines, knowing the culture was not moving in their direction. Today, we have too many Catholics who pick and choose what to believe and who allow the media world to paint over what they’ve been taught, and in some cases, getting us to be neutral or not living out our faith daily.

Catholic teens, like all teens, need a connection to something in their daily lives. It should be living out their faith with the support of their family and peers. Teens have barely experienced life and the secular media won’t feed them.

May I suggest:

lifeteen.com/about/youth-ministry/

What Catholics of all ages are missing today, depending on where you live, are middle-class Catholic communities where everyone shares and lives their Christian identity. We need strong Catholic communities. We need teens to feel connected to other teens who want to grow into full-time Catholic adults.

Hope this helps,
Ed


#14

Thank you all for your replies. I’ll respond here as I wait to get on a plane for a business trip.

There are thirty hours of community service which are divided:
10 hours to catholic charities
10 hours to our parish (church or school)
10 hours in the community

I have contacted life teen and asked for some Mark Hart book recs.

I ordered a copy of Belly Button from Amazon.

Each child has briefly presented their namesake saint and the namesake of their anticipated confirmation name.

We do follow a specific catechism text, but I augment that with each Sunday’s readings and different prayers each week. I also encourage questions and my responses are quite orthodox.

I printed out the WYD info and will make some sense out of it for presentation.

Thank you all for your valued input.


#15

These are 13 and 14 year olds that are middle class. They attend good urban public schools and each one of them will continue in public high schools. They are well behaved in class and for the most part attentive. They seem to be learning but I suspect that they are not applying this at home, school, or in their daily lives.

And this is different from the rest of humanity exactly how?

I was just trying to provide a little context. When I attended training, there seemed to be a lot of emphasis on learning disabilities, differences in socio-economic make up, behavior issues, etc. Fortunately, none of those is of any relevance to this class. But I expected (perhaps wishful thinking) that if I didn’t have any of those issues, I would be more effective in teaching this class. Not sure that is the case. I don’t have any answers and appreciate yours.


#16

If you have access to a witty, engaging, intelligent young priest, that can be a very good tool. Often, until they are sufficiently mature in their faith and social development, young people will inconsiderately dismiss older people.


#17

Unfortunately, our youngest priest is in his 50's, just like me. :o


#18

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