Engaging Faith: Practical lesson ideas and activities for Catholic Educators

May 5, 2015

Lessons on Pastoral Leadership from the Pastoral Letters

Prepare a lesson or part of a lesson that focuses on the theme of pastoral leadership and priesthood today, especially as it connects between teachings from the Pastoral Letters of the New Testament. Some qualities which make up a good priest are drawn from the Letter to Titus.

Overview

First Timothy, Second Timothy, and Titus are called “Pastoral Letters” because they were written by one pastor (shepherd) to two other pastors, Timothy and Titus. The differ from other New Testament letters—both those written by St. Paul and those attributed to him—in that they were addressed to individuals and give great advice on Church leadership. The Pastoral Letters assert that in order for one to be a priest or bishop, he must be a moral exemplar, other-centered, and be willing to undergo any kind of trial for the sake of the Gospel. First Timothy gives guidelines for those chosen to be bishops. Second Timothy describes the end of St. Paul’s ministry and is a reflection on his impending death. The Letter to Titus, the focus here, discusses the qualities necessary for being a good presbyter (priest).

Lesson

1. Define pastor as “shepherd.” Ask the students to identify images from the Gospels of Christ acting as a shepherd. Ask: Why would “shepherd” be an appropriate name for a leader of the early Church? (Jesus used the metaphor of a shepherd and the flock to describe the relationship to the Apostles and the Apostles’ relationship to the faithful.)

2. Ask the students to write a brief reflection on a priest in their life who has had a positive influence on them. What qualities did that person possess that made him a good religious leader? Allow about five to seven minutes for writing. Then call on volunteers to share their reflections with the class.

3. Refer the students to Titus 1:5-9. Relate this description of presbyters to the student’s reflections and to an understanding of a priest’s mission and ministry today.

Assignment

There are nine references from the Letter of Titus in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.  Write them on the board. Ask the students to work individually or with a partner to look up the references from Titus and from the Catechism and explain how each supports a particular teaching about priesthood.

Teaching

Reference from Titus

Reference from the Catechism

Eligibility for Holy Orders

Titus 1:5-9

CCC, 1577

Instructions for the appointment of presbyters

Titus 1:5

CCC, 1590

Self-mastery and renewal

Titus 2:1-6

CCC, 2342

Temperance

Titus 2:12

CCC, 1809

The return of Christ

Titus 2:13

CCC, 449, 1041, 1130, 1404, 2276, 2818

Christ’s work of Redemption

Titus 2:14

CCC, 802

Baptism as a requirement for God’s kingdom

Titus 3:5

CCC, 1215

Hope

Titus 3:6-7

CCC, 1817

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