“What Would Jesus Do?? … Social Justice Themes for January”
The month of January challenges Catholics and all who seek to “do as Jesus would do” to renew our prayers and efforts concerning various social justice issues. The observance of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday calls us to work against racism and toward non-violence and peace. The 31st anniversary this year of the Roe v. Wade decision on January 22nd involves us in the ongoing struggles again legalized abortion. And, for the election year and start of the “primary season” this month, the U.S. Bishops have already issued their 2004 Faithful Citizenship statement urging those who would follow Jesus to exercise our political responsibility, bringing to bear the values and convictions of our faith.
Catholic Social Teaching (CST) speaks to all of these issues. Following are several resources and suggestions for incorporating the “7 Themes” of CST into your classroom teaching. Click to discover the 7 themes.
For issues such as prejudice and racism, excellent teaching materials are available, for all ages and free of charge, from the “Teaching Tolerance” program of the Southern Poverty Law Center. For those not already familiar with their magazine, videos and kits including lesson plans covering various forms of discrimination and injustice, call 1-334-956-8200 or visit the website at www.tolerance.org/teach. A free copy of any resource can be obtained via a written request on official school or church letterhead.
A set of activity-based lesson plans about CST for older students (ages 14-22), titled “A Catholic Call to Justice,” is available from the Catholic Campaign for Human Development. These can be accessed from the U.S. Bishops’ website at www.usccb.org/cchd/5-239.pdf or ordered by calling their Publishing Office at 1-800-235-8722. Also available from this Office are a new video and materials on Catholic Social Teaching, In the Footsteps of Jesus.
Reading It Right is a Teacher In-Service program developed by the Peace and Social Justice Office with teacher educator Dr. Madonna Wojtaszek-Healy. It aims to help Catholic teachers meet the challenge of sharing CST and the Gospel message. The program models ways to incorporate peace and justice awareness into children’s literature instruction. For more info or to schedule an In-Service, click here, or call Joyce Ruhaak at the Office, 815-834-4036.
For those Catholic teachers whose subject areas include civics, social studies or adult education, the U.S. Bishops’ statement, Faithful Citizenship: A Catholic Call to Political Responsibility (www.usccb.org/faithfulcitizenship or order from the toll-free # above), may be helpful in showing that “What would Jesus do?” carries over into our government and political arenas: “Jesus called us to ‘love one another.’ Our Lord’s example and words demand care for the ‘least of these’ from each of us. Yet they also require action on a broader scale. Faithful citizenship is about more than elections. It requires ongoing participation in the continuing political and legislative process.” (pp. 7-8)
We wish all teachers special grace and blessings in 2004, and may all of us begin the New Year striving to “do what Jesus would do” in all things!
Mary Jeanne Lindinger-Olsen
Associate for Parish Outreach