Links for Learning
Curriculum Connections for High School Teachers and Students
This months Links for Learners will support high
school curriculum in:
Christian lifestyleslives of service;
vocation and career
Finding Links for Discussion Group Leaders and Participants
Look for connections for use in programs outside the classroom,
Parish sacramental preparation programs and
CCD classes; young adult discussion programs; seasonal discussion
groups; RCIA programs.
Parents will also find this material useful
in initiating discussion around the dinner table, in home
study, at family activities.
Understanding Basic Terms in This Months Article
Look for the key words and terms below as you read the article.
Definitions or explanations can be researched from the article
itself or from the resource materials cited throughout the
Links for Learners. You can also find a list of terms on the
glossary page of AmericanCatholicYouth.org.
Chaplain's Life of Service
We are most familiar with the work done by our parish priests,
our local rabbis and ministers. These religious leaders serve
residential neighborhoods, ministering to people where they
Other religious leaders serve specific groups not associated
with a neighborhood, groups with a common mission or purpose,
people in unique circumstances. We call these ministers chaplains.
- The U.S.
Senate has had a chaplain since 1789, elected by the
Senate to serve as a spiritual advisor and counselor. Dr.
Lloyd John Ogilvie, the present chaplain, serves some 6,000
senators, aides and their families. The U.S. House also
has a chaplain. The current chaplain, Father Daniel P. Coughlin,
is the first Catholic priest to serve as House chaplain.
- The domestic
chaplain served nobility and gentry for centuries, often
working apart from the normal supervision of the ecclesiastical
- Chaplains serve in the military, ministering to soldiers
and their families on their bases or in wartime battlefields.
The U.S. Army, for example,
has a chaplain's school at Fort Jackson in South Carolina.
- The Boy Scouts of America use chaplains
to Scouts of all faiths.
- Chaplains serve students away from home at colleges such
in Rhode Island.
- Many hospitals
who care for the sick and dying and their families.
- Numerous city police
departments rely on chaplains to support their members,
especially in time of crisis.
- Chaplains minister to prisoners
- Even the nation's truckers have a chaplain's
network to support them while they're on the road. "Chaplain
Bob" is one, serving truckers and travelers at a truck
stop in western Pennsylvania.
- And, of course, firefighters
across the country have chaplains to minister to their spiritual
Chaplains do for their groups just what a local priest does
for his parishioners: celebrate liturgy; offer reconciliation
and healing in the sacraments; counsel about family problems;
help with substance abuse; offer support in time of grief;
pray with their people.
Chaplains dedicate their lives to service. Most live lives
of "ordinary" heroism, being there day in and day out for
their people. Some, like Father Mychal Judge, are thrust into
dramatic or life-threatening circumstances where extraordinary
heroism is called for. During the Korean War, for example,
a military chaplain named Emil
Kapaun was captured along with many American soldiers.
He served the soldiers heroically in prison camp, feeding
them, making them warm, praying with them, until he himself
died of pneumonia in 1951.
What motivated Father Mychal to run into a burning office
tower in New York? Do you wonder where people like him find
the courage, the spiritual strength, for heroic service?
The accompanying article suggests that what made Father Mychal
so sensitive to the needs of others was his awareness of his
own vulnerabilities. Perhaps this is precisely what made him
capable of heroic service. As a boy, he lost his father and
struggled to help support his family. He later dedicated his
life to ministry, often caring for families who had lost a
loved one. When TWA Flight 800 crashed in the ocean off Long
Island, New York, Father Mychal became a counselor to the
families of the victims.
The accompanying article was written only days after Mychal
Judge's September 11 death. Some weeks later, other aspects
of Mychal Judge's private life became public. A November 12,
2001, article in New
York magazine describes the friar as a gay priest and
a recovering alchoholic. There is no indication of scandal,
only the fact that he was a celibate man of gay orientation
who had been sober for 18 years when he died.
Father Mychal found the courage to minister to people afflicted
with AIDS. He supported the gay and lesbian community of New
York City, opening the doors of St.
Francis of Assisi church to an AIDS support organization
when it could find no home.
Are You Capable of Heroic Service?
Try this exercise to gain perspective on the different forms
a life of service can take. Set up three columns on a piece
of paper. Using the links bulleted in the section above, create
a list of five or six job duties common to various chaplaincy
roles. Make this list Column A.
Write a brief list or "job description" that captures some
of your own responsibilities as a teen. You might include
family duties such as caring for younger siblings and school
responsibilities such as class leadership or even getting
passing grades. Make this list Column B on your paper. Do
the duties and the characteristics of a chaplain have any
parallels to your own teen life?
For Column C, read two selections from St. Matthew's Gospel
and create a list of Christian duties from Jesus' directives
in his Sermon
on the Mount and from his reply to the righteous:
When did we see you hungry and thirsty, a stranger, naked
or in prison?
Do you find any parallels, any common Christian obligations,
among the three columns? While you're listing the responsibilities
in the three columns, be aware also of your personal vulnerabilities.
What could keep you from living up to your duties? Recall
what the tribute to Father Mychal said about the source of
his sensitivity to others. When you can acknowledge to yourself,
for example, that you sometimes feel lonely, that you crave
a hug or a warm word from an often-indifferent parent, then
you can find the strength to console a classmate in need.
Then you can participate in a school service project and bring
a few moments of joy to an elderly person or a handicapped
child. Then you can be a hero in the service of others.
In spite of their anxiety and fear, teenagers across the
country are responding in the wake of the September 11th attacks
with an increased sense of direction and purpose, according
Some are signing up for military service, some are participating
in peace rallies and others are writing letters to local newspapers
and government leaders. CNN quotes several teens now considering
careers in politics.
Certainly there is no lack of inspiration. The men and women
among the police and firefighters, the volunteer doctors,
broadcast journalists, Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Father Mychalall
stand as symbols of dedication and service.
You too may find inspiration from your fellow teens, or from
the heroic women and men of September 11th. For career direction
and information, you may find these links helpful:
Prayer attributed to Father Judge
Take me where you want me to go;
Let me meet who you want me to meet;
Tell me what you want me to say,
And keep me out of your way.