At this point, hopefully both you, your students, and others throughout your community are excited about the Holy Father’s imminent visit to the United States. This is a historic occasion for a variety of reasons: this will be Pope Francis’ first visit to the United States; this will be the first time that any pope has addressed the U.S. Congress; and Pope Francis’s visit will be closely affiliated with the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia. Regarding the latter point specifically, the World Meeting of Families will occur from Tuesday, September 22 to Friday, September 25, while the Holy Father’s presence in Philadelphia will be Saturday, September 26 and Sunday, September 27.
It is important to recall that the World Meeting of Families is not merely an event to capture the attention of parents with families –after all, it is likewise a chance for even the youth to be drawn to reflect on the importance of the family within society. As such, here are some ways that Catholic school teachers can incorporate the setting of the World Meeting of Families into curricular lessons:
- Guide your students in a reading of the first two chapters of both the Gospels of Matthew and Luke. Then, have your students reflect on the unique respective roles that Mary and Joseph filled as Jesus’ parents within the framework of the Holy Family. Ask your students worthwhile questions such as the following: How did Mary and Joseph hold indispensable roles when it came to both protecting and following the Child Jesus? What challenges would the Holy Family have faced, including during Jesus’ infancy, his childhood, and his adolescence prior to the beginning of his public ministry? In what ways did Mary and Joseph remain faithful to their divine Son as he “advanced [in] wisdom and age and favor before God and man” (Luke 2:52)?
- Look through the short videos offered by the World Meeting of Families that cover various Catholic initiatives, in order to familiarize yourself with both the topics covered and how students can learn more about matters of faith and the family long after the World Meeting of Families has concluded.
- Have your students read about, and perhaps write their own short biographical sketches of, some of the Saints for the Family included on the World Meeting of Families’ website.
- Have your students look through the profiles of the World Meeting of Families speakers for sessions on Tuesday and Wednesday, as well as Thursday and Friday. Ask your students which particular session(s) they would attend if they could. You might also ask them what hypothetical session(s) they would develop, organize, and lead if given the opportunity.
- Share and recite the “World Meeting of Families Prayer” with your students during class. The prayer is available for free as a PDF (and can even be viewed in multiple languages in order to add an international scope to your lesson plans).
- Encourage your students to follow the proceedings on the upcoming 2015 Synod on the Family that will take place at the Vatican from October 4, 2015 through October 25, 2015.
Perhaps most importantly, encourage your students to pray for holy marriages, for the spiritual wellbeing of husbands, wives, and their children, and for them to look with hope to the model of the Holy Family as their Christian inspiration.
Most Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, pray for us!