It was just about one year ago in our semi-regular Engaging, Minds, Hearts & Hands newsletter that we asked Catholic theology teachers to share some of the challenges they face. We received several responses, including the following:
The greatest challenge we have is in helping the students understand that the work and activities that take place in theology class are probably some of the most important work they will ever do in forming their future.
—Barb Stanley, Notre Dame Preparatory School, Scottsdale, AZ
Every year my students come to school with the idea that their faith doesn’t really matter or is somehow unrealted to peace, love, and justice. My challenge is to overcome indifference and lead them to see that without Christ and his Church, peace, love, and justice are doomed to fail.
—Jeff Lauer, Bishop Dwenger High School, Fort Wayne, IN
Teaching religion in an all-girls Catholic school does not guarantee that all the students will be Catholic. In fact, there are classes where less than half the class is Catholic, let alone an active Catholic. My challenge is this: how do you teach religion to someone who doesn’t believe in the practice of your faith! I struggle every day.
—Sarach Glaser, Immaculate Conception Cathedral High School, Memphis,TN
In the same issue, Daniel S. Mulhall, current Assistant Secretary for Catechesis and Inculturation for the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, and former high school theology teacher, wrote a lead article in which he asked the question: “When the students you teach finish four years of high school, would you rather they know what they Church teaches or believe what the Church teaches. He mentions that the most common answer he receives from teachers is “both.” Dan then goes on to explore why both approaches are equally valid and important.
Our intention with this Engaging Faith blog is to provide a forum for Catholic high school theology to do as the banner says: Both share practical lesson ideas and comment on current events with other theology teachers. As we share information, read your comments, and provide a forum to exchange lesson plans and resources, we appreciate the chance to engage with you a discussion of the Catholic faith as you head off to the classroom each day to do the same with your teenage students.
To read Dan’s entire article, “Which Way Do You Learn?” and more teacher responses to the the challenges they face teaching theology, please view the Fall, 2006 issue of Engaing Minds, Hearts & Hands at the same link above.