Links for Learning
1. Finding Curriculum Connections for High School Teachers
This months Links for Learners will support high school
- ReligionChristian life-styles; Christian service; parish
- Social Studiessocial and economic needs of society
- Finding Links for Discussion Group Leaders and Participants
Look for connections for use in programs such as:
Parish sacramental preparation programs and CCD classes; young
adult discussion programs; seasonal discussion groups; RCIA
Parents will also find this material useful in initiating discussion
around the dinner table, in home study, at family activities
or as preparation for parent/teacher meetings.
Understanding Basic Terms in This Months Article
Look for these key words and terms 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.
Economically disadvantaged community
|Ethic of Service
Understanding the diverse needs of our communities
AmeriCorps is one of many responses
throughout American history to the needs of citizens in our cities.
Service organizations addressed whatever problems were besieging
people at the time. The
Children's Aid Society of New York, formed in 1853, cared for
orphaned children of immigrants crowding Eastern cities. Thousands
of these children were homeless on urban streets, suffering from
disease and crime. The Children's Aid Society created a program
called the orphan trains, sending children west by railroad to be
adopted by families who could give them a better life.
Other service organizations active now include the Peace
Corps and Habitat for Humanity, both with an international scope,
as well as urban programs such as the government's Head Start, the
American Red Cross and the
is just one of many groups involved with the AmeriCorps program.
Notre Dame-AmeriCorps volunteers focus on the importance of education.
Sister Katherine, the executive director of Notre Dame-AmeriCorps,
calls education the central issue of our day. Education and literacy
lead to empowerment, independence, the self-esteem that comes with
marketable life and work skills. Recently an article in a business
magazine, Fast Company, highlighted a program teaching young
people video production skills. Street-Level
Youth Media provides urban youth with an opportunity to learn
how to make and edit videos and to use computer graphics. Experience
with the technology gives its teen participants a strong sense of
self-esteem and personal security.
In discussion, compare the dedicated volunteers leading these
programs with some of the people who receive so much media attention
today: celebrities, financially successful business leaders, the
young Internet millionaires, sports stars. Discuss the characteristics
of an ethic of service as compared to an ethic of success and fame.
Do both ethics have value? What do they each contribute to society?
An ethic of service to the community
An ethic of service to the community The volunteers in Notre Dame-AmeriCorps
mirror the call to service that religious communities have
lived for centuries in the Church. Women and men came together
to live a Christian life in common, and responded to the needs
of those around them. Religious groups dedicated themselves
to feeding the poor, teaching the unlearned, caring for the
sick and the homeless, preaching the gospel message and living
lives of prayer. You're no doubt familiar with the Franciscan
order, the Jesuits,
the Sisters of Notre Dame,
the Little Sisters of the Poor, and other women's
The sisters and brothers who may teach in your high school, the
religious who visit the elderly and ill in your parish, the religious
educators who develop training and education programs on a diocesan
levelall are women and men sharing a common life of serving
Many laypeople also have a long history of service. Earlier in
this century, a woman named Dorothy Day co-founded the Catholic
Worker movement. The group's principle focus was running urban
soup kitchens for homeless men and women.
Today in our parishes, whether urban, suburban or rural, dedicated
volunteers serve those in need. Married couples conduct programs
and retreats for other married couples. The men and women who run
teen retreats and teach religious education classes for children
also serve. Deacons are ordained from among the parish communities
to minister to the sacramental and formation needs of parishioners.
Discuss in your groups where you see Christians (and non-Christians)
living in service for others in need. What programs exist in your
parish and neighborhood? Who runs the programs? What do you think
motivates them to serve? Discuss how teens may be able to develop
a ministry of service. As an example, in the 1970s, a Franciscan
priest, Richard Rohr, began a ministry of retreats for teens in
the Cincinnati area. After several years, Father Rohr and the teens
began to form small-group communities. As the teens matured into
young adults, they became leaders in the program. They invited their
parents and friends to become active with them. From this a lay
service community called New Jerusalem was created. Some lived in
dedicated service to others in need. Others in the groups prayed
with and supported their fellow members. Married couples agreed
to make financial contributions to provide a living for some members
who worked entirely for the poor or the sick. All committed to some
form of service-related Christian life together. Over 20 years later,
New Jerusalem still thrives. What drives the group is a sense of
stewardship, a commitment to caring for Christ's people. Stewardship
can take the form of direct service, or for some it is simply a
ministry of presence, just living a Christian life among others
in a neighborhood. Participants are no longer limited to youth.
As the original members have grown, many have stayed with the program.
Service is not limited to age
Where can you serve? As a teen, you may consider ministering
at the weekly youth liturgy in your parish, serving as a lector,
greeter, altar server or choir member. Do you have a musical talent
you can use to help others pray and celebrate in song? You may dream
about playing in your own rock band, but playing for a parish liturgy
or activity can be just as rewarding. Do adults need babysitters
while they attend liturgy or parish meetings? Can you volunteer
for a peer-group counseling program at your school to help teens
who have problems and are reluctant to talk to adults?
What are the needs of the elderly in your community? Although you
yourself might feel awkward, a regular visit to an older person
who lives nearby could mean all the world to that senior citizen.
You may feel you have nothing in common with someone your grandparents'
age, but a gentle conversation may reveal you both have fears and
insecurities, joys and heartaches, a need for someone who cares.
Loneliness is emotional starvation. Feed the spirit of a lonely
person by sharing a bit of your own spirit. Or try reading the newspaper
to someone who is losing her eyesight. Bring a nature video to someone
who doesn't hear so well any more.
For adults, opportunities for service abound. For inspiration,
see St. Anthony Messenger's online article on the Jesuit
Greg Boyle, who ministers to the youth gangs in East Los Angeles,
California. Father Boyle believes it is not enough to tell our kids,
"Say no to gangs. We adults need to "Say yes to kids." We need
to affirm their lives, their value, their worth to our community.
Where can you say yes to young people? Discuss this informally with
your parish group. Perhaps you can find a suggestion to bring before
your parish council for implementation.
For example, every August and September thousands of our young
people go off to college, some for the first time, some with one
year left before graduation and the adult world of work. Does your
parish ever acknowledge these college students? What are their needs,
fears, concerns? Could you celebrate an annual send-off liturgy
for them, praying over them and even offering a social hour after
the liturgy? Do you ever pray for them in the prayers of intercession
during the liturgy? Can you exchange an e-mail message occasionally
with a college student, making her feel like someone in her home
How about all our teens who start or return to high school classes
every fall? What does your parish do to let them know that we care
about them, that we support their academic and extracurricular efforts?
What about volunteering even a few hours to assist with a Confirmation
program? Our Confirmation programs often require its participants
to act as ministers at the parish youth liturgy. But do we train
the teens to do this? An adult who works as a flight attendant or
a restaurant host could train the teens to handle themselves with
confidence and poise as they minister in hospitality, for example.
Adults with experience in business may also offer a parish session
every spring for young people looking for summer jobs. Train them
in completing an application and writing a resume, in how to dress
and what to expect in the culture of the business world.
Programs such as these not only service the needs of our community.
They also offer opportunities for different generations to share
their unique gifts and strengths with one another.
Further Print and Media Resources
The Long Loneliness, by Dorothy Day. The autobiography of
the woman who co-founded the Catholic Worker movement.
Entertaining Angels: the Dorothy Day Story. A movie starring
actress Moira Kelly as Dorothy Day.
and Grace: Insights into Christian Ministry, an audiotape
by Richard Rohr, O.F.M. In this talk, Rohr invites us to touch others
who are at the edge of our society.
the Parish Needs Your Time, Treasure and Talent, a Catholic
Update by John Bookser Feister.
and Freedom, a Millennium
Monthly by Brennan Hill. Discussion of Jesus' freedom from
attachments so he could give himself entirely to others and take
risks for truth and justice.
Creating Small Church Communities, by Arthur R. Baranowski.
The book discusses a plan for restructuring the parish and renewing
The Orphan Trains: Placing Out in America, by Marilyn Holt.
Available from online booksellers, or through an ancestry organization.
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
- Access site to a number of online news publications
The Associated Press
The Miami Herald
The Close Up Foundation
– Washington, D.C.-based organization