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Engaging Faith: Practical lesson ideas and activities for Catholic Educators

March 1, 2019

Researching Catholic Non-Violent Resisters of the 20th Century

During his 2015 address to Congress, Pope Francis spoke of four great Americans that stood as witnesses of the dignity of the human person and advocated for social justice for all: Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Jr., Dorothy Day, and Thomas Merton (Address of the Holy Father, 2015).  In this spirt, encourage your students to follow the insights of Pope Francis and research lives of individuals from Catholic tradition that advocated for social justice and non-violence alternatives through their life and witness. Assign a presentation or short essay along with the research.  

Rubric expectations might include: personal quotations, pictures, biographical information, and/or a summary of their advocacy work. (This might be a good activity to guide students in learning about digital literacy and the need of reference citations and clear supporting evidence to accurately illustrate the advocacy of the individual.)  For more creative settings invite the students to create a poster, PechaKucha, or find a series of song lyrics that connect with the mission and ministry of one of the following Catholic advocates to present for the class. 

The following are some examples of Catholic individuals who advocated for human dignity and labored for a non-violent alternative throughout the American twentieth century (supply background information on each as needed):

  • Nicholas Black Elk (1863-1950)
  • Sr. Thea Bowman (1937-1990)
  • Fr. Solanus Casey (1870-1957)
  • Cesar Chavez (1927-1993)
  • St. Marianne Cope (1838-1918)
  • Dorothy Day, OblSB (1897-1980)
  • Ms. Eileen Egan (1912-2000)
  • Ms. Dolores Huerta (1930-)
  • Fr. Emil Kapaun (1916-1951)
  • Sr. Teresa Kearney (1875-1957)
  • The Martyrs of La Paz, El Salvador (1980)
  • Sr. Mary Angeline Teresa McCrory (1893-1984)
  • Thomas “Fr. Louis” Merton, OCSO (1915-1968)
  • Fr. Stanley Rother (1935-1981)
  • Mother Soledad Sanjurjo Santos (1892-1973)
  • Fr. Aloysius Schwartz (1930-1992)
  • Ms. Eunice Kennedy Shriver (1921-2009)
  • Ms. Mary Ann Wright (1921-2009)
  • Ms. Rhoda Greer Wise (1888-1948)
  • Fr. George B. Zabelka (1915-1992

                                                    Submitted by Thomas Malewitz, Ph.D.

                                                        St. Xavier High School Louisville, KY

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