Engaging Faith: Practical lesson ideas and activities for Catholic Educators

March 5, 2015

Teacher-led Discussions on Two March Saints: St. Patrick (March 17) and St. Joseph (March 19)

By Justin McClain

The liturgical calendar for March features the feast days of two inspirational heroes: St. Patrick (March 17) and St. Joseph (March 19). These two holy men essentially lived for Christ and, pursuant to their respective spiritual gifts, had an especially heroic devotion to the Lord. There are various opportunities to bring knowledge of these saints into your classroom, particularly in terms of using what we know about their lives as a means of facilitating student discussions on their commitment to Christ.

Some objective and subjective questions that you could pose to your students in order to guide their reflection on St. Patrick and St. Joseph follow. Also listed below are some web resources that feature opportunities for students to gain even more introductory information on these two unique saints.

Reflection Questions for St. Patrick

  • In what ways did St. Patrick show courage throughout his life? Be specific.
  • How did St. Patrick persevere, even in the midst of his enslavement and leading up to his evangelization of Ireland? In what ways do you think St. Patrick faced discouragement, and how did he endure in his dedication to Christ?
  • How did St. Patrick explain the Holy Trinity using the example of a shamrock?
  • What role did St. Patrick play in invigorating the Catholic faith beyond the shores of Ireland, i.e., in mainland Europe?
  • What are other ways in which a devotion to St. Patrick can lead us to a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ and his Gospel?

Reflection Questions for St. Joseph

  • St. Joseph is often referred to as the “Silent St.,” due to the reality that we have no words of his within the Gospels, let alone elsewhere in scripture. How did St. Joseph’s silence underscore his humility as he served as Jesus’ foster-father?
  • How was Joseph a devoted husband to Mary and a devoted foster-father to Jesus?
  • Read about St. André Bessette, C.S.C., and his own devotion to St. Joseph, such as on the website for the aptly-named St. Joseph's Oratory of Mount Royal (in Québec). Why do you think that such humble saints as St. André promoted St. Joseph as a figure who can likewise draw us closer to Jesus?
  • What are other ways in which a devotion to St. Joseph can lead us to a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ and his Gospel?

In addition, have students read the references to St. Joseph within the Gospels of Matthew, Luke and John. They can use a free and reliable online Catholic concordance, such as the Cross Reference, to look up Joseph’s appearances in the Gospels. Then, have them write a topical reflection on such considerations as Joseph’s ultimate faith in the child Jesus and his deep devotion to protecting Jesus and Mary.

More Web Resources Regarding St. Patrick

New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia – “St. Patrick”

Catholic Online – “St. Patrick”

Catholic News Agency – “St. Patrick of Ireland”

EWTN – “St. Patrick, Bishop, Confessor, Apostle of Ireland, A.D. 464”

St. Patrick Centre (Northern Ireland) – “St. Patrick’s Legacy / St. Patrick’s World (Historical and Cultural Backdrop)”

More Web Resources Regarding St. Joseph:

New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia – “St. Joseph”

Catholic Education Resource Center – “St. Joseph” by Fr. William Saunders

Catholic Education Resource Center – “The Man Mary Loved” (an interview with Fr. Roland Gauthier, C.S.C., courtesy of the National Catholic Register, March 18-24, 2001):

Congregation of Holy Cross – Spirituality – St. Joseph

EWTN – Novena to St. Joseph

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