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By Lynn and Bob Gillen

Links for Learners | October 2001

God's Photo Album


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Links for Learning

Finding Curriculum Connections for High School Teachers and Students

This month’s Links for Learners will support high school curriculum in:
Christian lifestyles—prayer; the gospels; God's presence
Speech—presentation skills
Computer—PowerPoint presentations; digital cameras

Finding Links for Discussion Group Leaders and Participants

Look for connections for use in programs outside the classroom, such as:

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 Month’s 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



Media attention



Nonprofit corporation

God's presence

Project funding




Models of Faith

This month's article presents a wonderful example of how faith can lead a person to accomplish God's work. Shelly Mecum, a grade-school teacher in Hawaii, wanted to save her parish school from financial ruin. Using her imagination, driven by her belief in the importance of education and rooted in her deep faith in God, she created goals and saw them through to fulfillment. Her method? Capture glimpses of God's presence in the world as seen through the eyes of school-age children, and create a photo album to share with others.

Do you know of anyone like Shelly Mecum who can serve as a faith model for you to emulate? How about Mother Teresa, who worked tirelessly all her life for the poor of India? Under consideration for sainthood in the Catholic Church, Mother Teresa founded a religious order to care for the abandoned and sick. CNN reports that Mother Teresa's recently revealed letters show she had felt abandoned by God at times. "I am told God lives in me—and yet the reality of darkness and coldness and emptiness is so great that nothing touches my soul," she wrote in a letter. The obstacles to caring for the sick must have been overwhelming to her, yet Mother Teresa persisted to accomplish a lifetime of generous service to the poor.

Consider Coretta Scott King, widow of Martin Luther King, Jr. In the wake of his assassination over 30 years ago, Mrs. King has steadfastly continued to be a Christian leader, a civil-rights activist and a peace crusader.

Can you identify someone in your school or parish who stands out as a model of faith? It may be a teacher who continues to give her best in spite of resistance, a lack of resources, illness. Look for a fellow student who overcame obstacles to become a strong athlete or gain admission to college. The world is full of Shelly Mecums. No one singles out most of them for recognition, but they are no less a faith model than she is.

In Matthew's Gospel, Jesus tells us that even a glimmer of faith, faith the size of a tiny mustard seed, wields enough strength to move mountains. The Gospels offer many stories of people approaching Jesus in faith and walking away rewarded with healing, acceptance and forgiveness.

The next time you approach Jesus in prayer, ask for the grace to see the moments when others perceive you as a model of faith. When you stand up for someone less popular, when you refuse to cheat, when you work hard to overcome learning difficulties, when you volunteer for parish ministries, you stand as a person of faith.

Where Do You See God?

Where do you, a teenager, see God? Consider doing your own photo album or journal to share in religion class or on a parish retreat.

Check out these sites for ideas: the Digital Exploration Society supports and equips Internet-enabled outdoor learning adventures for students and teachers; the Wildwoods Foundation uses digital imaging to promote experiences of civic awareness for young people.

Look to established photographers and writers for inspiration as you think about how to start your photo journal. Margaret Bourke-White, the first woman accredited by the U. S. Army as a war correspondent, captured on film the human suffering inflicted by international conflict. Edward Steichen's striking 1955 Family of Man photo exhibit at New York's Museum of Modern Art was later published as a book. His photos document birth to death themes common to cultures around the world. Ansel Adams captured images of nature's grandeur in the American West. Sports Illustrated For Kids publishes dramatic pictures of athletes at their inspirational best. Photos in other current online magazines may likewise suggest a place for you to start.

At Magis Productions, Jesuit photographer Father Don Doll shows where he has found God, particularly among Native Americans and victims of land mines in Angola and Bosnia. Brazilian photographer Sebastiao Salgado has captured the struggles of the landless people and farmworkers of his country through his photos.

For an example of journal writing and written observations, see Anne Morrow Lindbergh's Gifts From the Sea, published the same year Steichen's exhibit opened. This famous book discusses women's place in society. Lindbergh's wide-ranging overland and transoceanic flights inspired numerous volumes of essays and diaries in which she urged her readers to "feed the soul" through contemplation and quiet time.

Writing does not come easily to everyone (not even many writers!). To help you get your thoughts on paper, try Gabriele Rico's Writing the Natural Way. Rico, a professor of English and creative arts at San Jose State University in California, developed "clustering" as a technique to spark the writing process.


Research Resources

Try accessing some of these Internet sources for further reference. Be aware, however, that some of these sites may charge for downloading articles contained within the site’s archives.

The New York Times
The Los Angeles Times
Time magazine
The Associated Press
The Chicago Tribune
People magazine
The History Channel
The Miami Herald
The Close Up Foundation Washington, D.C.-based organization
ABC News
Channel One’s online resource
The Vatican
U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops
The New American Bible
Documents of Vatican II

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