student roll is a well-established method for simultaneously counting heads and
bringing a classroom to order. This simple act of taking attendance also can be
crafted to prompt awareness of and conversation about the presence of Jesus in
our daily lives.
Who’s Here Today?
mini-lesson by reading the names on your class list and waiting for each child
to answer “Here” or “Present.” Read through your entire class list to establish
anticipation among your students for the rhythm of a name being called a
response being given.
fully locked into this cadence, call out the name “Jesus” without changing your
tone of voice. Continuing to look at your list, wait for a response. When no
response comes, call out the name “Jesus?” again, emphasizing the name as a question.
When no response is returned, look up at the students and then around the classroom
as if attempting to find the person whose name you just called.
Now That I Have Your
of the class’s full attention you now have by launching a follow-up discussion
based on the questions and answers below.
1. What did we discover by calling the roll
today? Jesus seems absent. We called his name; we looked around. We didn’t
see him and we didn’t hear him.
2. When did Jesus’ followers experience his
absence? After Jesus’ death and then after his Ascension, the Apostles experienced
the absence of Jesus who was no longer physically present (see Acts 1:1-11).
3. How did the first followers of Jesus experience
him present in their lives even when he no longer walked among them? They
experienced Jesus present to them in his Body and Blood, in their prayers
together, and in recalling and practicing his teaching to love God and neighbor
(see Acts 2:42-47).
to this third question on the board as a backdrop for the following activities.
Keeping Jesus Present
students that as Christians we pick up where the Apostles left off, by keeping
Jesus and his message present in the world. Then, according to the learning
level of your students, adapt and use one or more of the following activities
to explore how they can do just that.
l. Have students
work in pairs to describe what they can do to make Jesus present in each of
When someone… …we make Jesus present by …
makes fun of a
tells a lie
is having a bad
2. Have students
use one example from the first activity to create a skit that presents the situation
and the response they might use to make Jesus more present in the classroom.
3. Have students
work in pairs or as individuals to write on strips of paper things they can do
or say that will help keep Jesus and his message present in the classroom. Have
students share what they have written and then post the strips on a display
board. Take one strip off the display board each class period and place it in a
central location so that everyone can focus on that idea for the day.
4. In small
groups, discuss how we can help make Jesus present in our families, in groups
of friends, and in the community. Depict these ideas on a classroom mural and
add to it each week as time allows.
By using one of
these activities or one of your own creation, you provide a lasting memory for
your students. In the future, listening to any roll call may well remind students
of this lesson and the importance of responding positively to the question: “Is
Jesus here today?”
Lee Danesco holds a
Master of Arts degree in teaching from Brown University. She has served as a
DRE and a pastoral associate, and she is a published author. Her first book, Planning a Youth Service
Week, was published by Twenty-Third
Publications in 2001. The Confident Catechist was published by Saint Mary’s Press in 2007.