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Engaging Faith: Practical lesson ideas and activities for Catholic Educators

January 11, 2007

The Christophers

Happy and a blessed New Year to all the readers of this blog. I want to tell you about a great book I just finished reading—the anniversary edition of Father James Keller’s You Can Change the World. The revised version of Father Keller’s classic was edited and abridged by Gerald M. Costello (New York: The Christophers/Alba House, 2006) to help commemorate the founding of the Christopher Movement in 1945. This timeless book contains much wisdom on the power of the individual to be a “Christ-bearer” in the world.

The Christophers are still going strong today. I’ve been receiving their free News Notes for years (they do appreciate contributions). Their most recent ones deal with serving God’s people, a guide to teen dating (excellent advice for your students), practical tips on how to make a difference, and the power of prayer. Many times over the years I used various of these News Notes in my teaching—with good success. The Christophers also sponsor an art contest for high school students. (I’ve encouraged students to participate as an alternative to one of my other projects. Unfortunately, none of my students won, but they did produce some wonderful posters!)

Fr. Keller makes a strong case for Christophers to get involved in careers and professions that make a real impact on society: the fields of education, government service, labor-management relations, and writing and other forms of media. Students would benefit from reading this book simply to consider some vocations that are truly ones of service.

He also includes chapters on how to write letters and how to give a speech. I especially take to heart Fr. Keller’s observation that a clearly written letter to a person of influence can make a difference. This is one practical and effective way for students to get involved in various social justice issues.

The second last chapter of the book gives reminders for Christophers. Many of these apply to us religious educators as well. Here are some of my favorites, good thought-provokers for a new year:

  • Depend more on God, less on self.
  • Be world-minded, not local-minded.
  • Aim to serve, not be served.
  • Be gentle, don’t hurt.
  • Submit ideas, don’t impose them.
  • Be optimistic, rather than pessimistic.
  • Admit your mistakes, don’t deny them.
  • Be humble, not proud.
  • Be a doer, not just a talker.
Hope you get the book and enjoy it as much as I did. God bless.

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