Effective Teaching: Following the Disciples’ Model

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by Lee Danesco

The resurrection and ascension of Jesus set off an immediate and unsettling chain reaction of shock, excitement, joy, and confusion among his disciples.

Over time, guided by the Holy Spirit, the disciples learned to cope with their challenging circumstances and lingering uncertainties by employing a simple but reliable technique.

They thought about the message Jesus taught. They reflected on the life he lived. They considered how they might best follow his words and actions. They reviewed!

As catechists preparing end-of-the-year (or lesson) reviews, we can creatively borrow and implement elements from this successful approach used by those who knew Jesus best.

How did the disciples review?

Explain to children that while Jesus was alive his disciples did their best to listen to the lessons he taught and live by the message they heard. Jesus’ death, resurrection, and ascension surprised them all and made their own futures seem far less predictable.

When Jesus was no longer living among them, the disciples, led by the Spirit, learned to find comfort and direction by returning to their memories of his words and actions.

Distribute pencils and paper as needed and instruct children to move into pairs or small groups to complete this brief exercise.

* In your own words, list any three of Jesus’ teachings which you think his disciples were likely to remember.
(Example: Love one another.)

* Describe three actions Jesus took that you believe disciples could quickly bring to mind.
(Example: Saving them from drowning by calming the stormy sea)

* Discuss how these words or actions might have helped the disciples when they were arrested and afraid, tried to teach others, or argued among themselves.
(Example: Remembering that Jesus had taught them about loving one another might help the disciples to put aside their petty squabbles.) Be ready to present your ideas to the class.

* Discuss responses together.

Following the disciples’ example

With children still sitting in pairs or small groups, compliment them on how they have tried throughout the year to listen to the teachings of Jesus and his Church and follow the message they heard. Share the idea that they can continue to hold on to what they have learned by following the disciples and using their easy, three-step review.

Direct children to use paper and pencils to complete their review.

* List three important words or phrases that played a major part in this year’s lessons.

* Describe three activities that you shared during the year and the lessons you learned from them.

* Explain (or for older children: be ready to act out) how you think any of the words or actions you have listed above might help you when you have disagreements with your friends, arguments with family members, or difficulty serving the needs of others.

Share their results in ways that reinforce the central teaching points for this year and encourage positive actions for the summer months ahead.

While offering students this easy-to-manage review, don’t forget to share and savor the truth that by using this centuries-old review strategy, you have effectively linked some of today’s young disciples with those who actually walked with Jesus.

Lee Danesco is a former DRE and pastoral associate in Foxboro, MA. Email her at rejoue@aol.com.

Divine Mercy Invitation

In his homily on Divine Mercy Sunday 2015, Pope Francis extended an invitation to the Jubilee Year of Mercy. This is the time to extend the invitation to families and parishioners from all walks of life to re-connect with their faith. It all starts with an invitation.

Practical pointer: Issue invitations to Mass on Divine Mercy Sunday for parishioners to pass along to their loved ones who may have fallen away. Issue e-vites to your families through your parish catechetical program.

Easter and Pentecost

During the Easter season host a family movie night with an appropriate movie for discussion. Look for movies that promote mercy. Promote your event using social media.

Pentecost is the birthday of the Church. Spiritually is a rebirth. And spiritual awakening is essentially what the invitation to the Year of Mercy promises. Our parish is planning a special celebration for Pentecost to welcome our confirmation candidates as new parishioners. Formal invitations are being sent out, and candidates will process in to the Mass carrying special banners. This is a new and exciting addition to our regular routine for confirmation candidates. Using the Year of Mercy as a springboard, we have been able to incorporate new ideas and changes to our existing program.

—Donna Ryan, M.Ed, LAC is the parish catechetical leader at Church of the Assumption of Our Blessed Lady in Wood Ridge, N.J.



Copyright 2016, Bayard, Inc. All rights reserved. This article is protected by United States copyright and other intellectual property laws and may not be reproduced, rewritten, distributed, redisseminated, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast, directly or indirectly, in any medium without the prior written permission of Bayard, Inc.

This article was written by the Catechist Staff and appeared in Catechist magazine, July 2016. 

Image Credit: Jesus Cervantes/Shutter Stock 614211611

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