Engaging Faith: Practical lesson ideas and activities for Catholic Educators

August 17, 2015

Opening Week Lesson

Welcome back to school!

This lesson—created by Sr. Kieran Sawyer, SSND—or an adaptation of it serves well for a first week introduction to your class. Follow the directions below.

  1. Tell the students you are going to introduce them to four sophomores (or freshman, juniors, seniors). Place on a continuum on the board the names:


Describe each character in terms of his or her attitude toward religion.

Caspar: Totally negative attitude toward religious things.

Hates religion class.

Never goes to church.

Fights with parents about religion.

Hilary: Sees religion as unimportant, a bore.

So-what attitude toward religion classes.

Misses Mass if she can get away with it without a family squabble.

Seldom prays.

Zady:Does what is expected of him religiously.

Attends Mass regularly because his parents do.

Wants to get good grades in theology class so he studies hard.

Believes what he has been taught about religion and morality.

Brutus:Has made his own decision to practice the Catholic faith.

Attends Mass because he wants to do that for God.

Prays often, in his own way, and in his own words.

Wants to be a better Christian than he is, wants to learn more about God and his religion.

Note: Change these descriptors as necessary to fit the description of your students. You may wish to add a specifically non-Catholic character.


  1. Discuss:
  • How do you explain why each of the four persons is where he or she is on the line?
  • What were the influences in their lives that have led them to these positions?
  • How should a religion teacher approach each of these kinds of people?
  • Some families have all four kinds of people in the same family. How can you explain that?
  • What would an adult Caspar be like? Hilary? Zady? Brutus?
  • What would it be like to have parents who were Caspars? Or parents like one of the others?
  1. Pass out small slips of paper. Ask each student to write on the paper the name of the person on the continuum who most closely resembles his or her own position. Collect the slips. Before tallying, have the students guess where they think the majority of the class will be. Tally the slips and discuss the results.
  1. Call on students one at a time to be interviewed in front of the class using some of the following questions. Make sure to allow students to pass on any question they don’t want to answer.  First, ask the student to explain what position he or she is on the continuum and why. Other questions can include:
  • How dos your position now compare to your position last year? Two years ago?
  • Would you say you are moving up or down the scale? Why?
  • What was the greatest influence on your present position?
  • Where do you think you’ll be ten years from now?
  • Are you satisfied with your present position?
  • Would you be friends with a Caspar?
  • Which kind of these people would you prefer to marry?
  • Do you think you would be someplace else on the scale if you were going to a public school?


  1. Written assignment: Write a brief essay explaining how these things have affected your position on the continuum: family, friends, parish, grade school, religious training, etc.



1 Denise Perrone

Sept. 19, 2015
Love it plan to use it with one of my lessons. I think with my having eight graders is perfect for this lesson plan Can't wait to share it with my cherubs Thanks Denise God Bless

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