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Engaging Faith: Practical lesson ideas and activities for Catholic Educators

September 20, 2010

Blessed John Henry Newman Lesson Plan

On Sunday September 19, 2010, Pope Benedict XVI beatified Cardinal John Henry Newman, Catholic convert and exceptional apologist. Newman was ordained an Anglican priest but after a number of years reading the writings of early Church Fathers, Newman felt called to enter into the Catholic Church. Twenty-two years after his ordination into the Anglican Church, he was welcomed into the Roman Catholic Church in 1846.

• SWBAT describe the life of Bl. John Henry Cardinal Newman.
• SWBAT describe why he converted to Catholicism.

• SWBAT describe his key contributions to Catholic theological thought.
• SWBAT defend a Catholic doctrine using his writings.

• Paragraph Report
• Argument Outline

Reading Material Needed:
• Pope Benedict XVI’s homily at Cardinal Newman's beatification.
• John Paul II’s letter to Archbiship of Birmingham to open his cause for beatification.
• Writings of Blessed John Henry Newman:

Teaching Methods
Day 1
1. Prayer from John Henry Newman (from Pope Benedict XVI’s homily on the day of his beatification)

Praise to the Holiest in the height
And in the depth be praise;
In all his words most wonderful,
Most sure in all his ways!
(The Dream of Gerontius).

2. Explain the day’s objectives:
  • Describe the life of Cardinal John Henry Newman
  • Describe why JHN converted to Catholicism
  • Defend a Catholic doctrine using JHN’s writings
3. Present images of John Henry Newman to familiarize students with his appearance. (Google image search John Henry Newman)

4. Have students do online searches on computers to create a mind map, outline, timeline, or other form of note-taking on the life of John Henry Newman. Some specific websites might include:
5. Have them use these notes to write a short paragraph report on his life. Assign for homework if necessary.

Day 2
1. Prayer (from Bl. John Henry Cardinal Newman):

God created me
to do him some definite service;
he has committed some work to me
which he has not committed to another.

I have my mission -
I may never know it in this life,
but I shall be told it in the next...
Therefore, I will trust him...
If I am in sickness,
my sickness may serve him;
in perplexity,
my perplexity may serve him;
if I am in sorrow,
my sorrow may serve him...
He does nothing in vain;
he may prolong my life,
he may shorten it,
he knows what he is about.

2. Create a class mind-map based on the reports. Have students silently come to the board to add to the mind map or write their suggestions as they share them out loud.

3. Think-Pair-Share Class Discussion: Why did John Henry Newman convert to Catholicism? Have students think or write individually about why they JHN converted, then have them discuss their thoughts with a partner. Have students share their thoughts and discussion with the class.

4. Have students revisit their paragraph reports. Below their reports, have them write what additional information they would add to the report to help readers understand why Bl. John Henry Newman joined the Roman Catholic Church.

5. Provide students with a list of topics they could spend some time researching related to the writings of Bl. John Henry Cardinal Newman. As a convert, Newman was a wrote prolifically to defend the faith for which he dedicated his life. Topics could include: the Real Presence in the Eucharist, sola scriptura, apostolic tradition, purgatory, indulgences, the divinity of Christ, intercession/praying to the saints, the priesthood, devotion to Mary, the perpetual virginity of Mary, and the immaculate conception of Mary. Have students use the website to find Newman’s writings related to these topics. Use the search feature to find the write work.

6. (If necessary, choose a specific topic and direct students to certain readings. For example, if you choose a topic on Mary, use excerpts from Newman’s Letter to Dr. Pusey.)

Video about Newman’s Beatification:


1 David

Sept. 21, 2010
Thanks the lesson plan is interesting. I am a Cathecist at Church of Our Saviour in NYC where on 9/23 we willd edicated the first USA shrine to Blessed Newman. For our CCD program it presents a real life teaching tool. Our Pastor Fr. Rutler also wrote a piece in the Magbnificat about cardinal Newman.

2 Jared Dees

Sept. 21, 2010
Thanks David, congratulations on the new shrine. You're right, what a great teaching tool!

3 Allison Welch

Sept. 23, 2010
love it. we just got a grant for i-touches and this will be a perfect assignment for it. I&#39;m going to save it for our chapter on the communion of saints. i think there&#39;s such a tendency to think that saints are characters in a novel instead of ordinary people. learning about their lives makes them more real to us and encourages us to remember that we are all called to be saints. i&#39;m going to add &quot;researching the steps to becoming a saint&quot; to the lesson plan. thanks so much again! <br />allison welch

4 Jared Dees

Sept. 24, 2010
Thanks Allison, I think you&#39;re exactly right. Congrats on the iTouches. I have spoken with a few teachers who have really loved using them for in class research. There are some good apps out there to research Catholic info.

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