Who Pope Francis really is and how he seems to be changing the culture of the Church in positive, compassionate and humble ways, are questions that every Catholic student should investigate and understand. The future of the Church and of the world depends on it.
Please find REmail classroom activities and a Lesson Plan to help you introduce and familiarise your students with Pope Francis and his messages. Use REmail material in total or in part to support other activities you might be planning.
‘The Cross of Christ invites us…to look upon others with mercy and tenderness, especially those who suffer.’ — Pope Francis, World Youth Day 2013
Lord, you are tender and merciful to me. May others discover your mercy and tender love through me every day this week. Give me the courage to bring mercy and tenderness to another’s suffering whenever I encounter it this week.
Prayer from: Bring Forth Hope: Pope Francis Speaks to the Youth of the World
You are with Me
Jesus said, “I am with you always”:
Help me to keep my heart open today, Lord, so I can feel your love at work in me.
You are always present to me, Lord.
Today let me be present to you. Amen.
Prayer from: The Catholic Youth Prayer Book (pg 29)
Suggestions on how to use these prayers:
1. Read these two prayers for your daily class prayer or write down for individual reflection in your school diary.
2. Choose a theme for the week: e.g. Hope.
Respond by writing your own prayer with this affirmation as part of your prayer:
‘Never let go of HOPE; for one day you will see it has finally come together what you’ve always wished for…’
3. Use the Internet and search for quotes by Pope Francis that contain themes that are meaningful to you, such as this pinterest site:
4. Present Pope Francis’ quote in a visual presentation that contains evocative images of his message to the world.
Matthew 25: 34-40
1. This part of Matthew’s Gospel is called “The Judgment of the Nations.”
What do you think these verses are about?
2. What examples did Jesus use to make his point about what we should all try to be?
3. Pope Francis uses part of this scripture (Matthew 25:35) in his reflections to the Catholic community in Walking in Joy with Pope Francis (Where Joy Abides, pg 6):
“I can say that the most beautiful and natural expressions of joy I have ever seen in my life were in poor people who had little to hold on to in their lives.” Do you think Pope Francis’ observation is true in our society? Give reasons for your answer.
4. Think about what you can do for the poor – will you be aware of the poor in our world? Will you pray for them? Will you try to help them in some way?
Aust Catholic Youth Prayer Journal, pg 116
“Ask, and it will be given to you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you.”
When we pray, we talk to God. We talk and he listens and, if we pray often enough, sometimes we find the answer we are seeking and sometimes we find another answer altogether. The most important thing about personal prayer is right intention: our hearts must be ready, even if our words are faltering.
Lord, hear the prayers of your people.
Suggested Classroom Activities
What we Know about Pope Francis
1. Using the internet, write the top 10 quotes from Pope Francis, such as
PINTREST POPE FRANCIS QUOTES
2. How does the media portray Pope Francis. Use recent media coverage, print and electronic media, including you tube and twitter to make up a personal profile on Pope Francis.
3. What are the most common qualities of Pope Francis that make people all over the world respect him as a leader? Give examples.
4. What does Pope Francis want you to know about the following issues:
- Social justice
- St Francis of Assisi
a. In groups, give examples of how the pope’s actions show him living his words. For example, his simple clothes (refusing to wear the red cape) and his living arrangements at the Vatican (a small apartment), placing his own phone calls and using a bus instead of the papal chauffeured limo. How does it make him different to previous popes in the eyes of the world?
b. How do you show any of these qualities above? In other words, in what ways do you show mercy, humility, leadership or faith.
5. In Evangelii Gadium (no. 53), Pope Francis states that our economic system excludes certain people, keeping them poor. “How can it be that it is not a news item when an elderly homeless person dies of exposure, but it is news when the stock market loses two points. This is a case of exclusion.”
– Why do you think Pope Francis feels so strongly about the poor and marginalised?
– In pairs, compile a personal history of Pope Francis’ life (a biography) – where he was born, grew up and lived and how that shaped his views. You may present this as:
a. A PowerPoint presentation and use references to support your information.
b. A visual exhibition – a collage, a graffiti style arrangement or electronic poster which could include podcasts, etc.
6. Pope Francis is regarded one of the most popular and powerful figures in the world. He was Person of the Year, 2013 in many international top publications such as Vanity Fair, Time, Esquire and he even made it on the front cover of The Rolling Stone magazine (from Against the Tide, pg 38-39).
– Why do you think Pope Francis has made the world’s headlines and is known as a reformist pope?
– What is he reforming? Give examples from media coverage.
7. Write 10 facts about Pope Francis, such as, where he was born, his name, what number pope he is etc.
a. Make up a crossword with the clues and answers.
8. Joy is very important to Pope Francis. He says, “There are Christians whose lives seem like Lent without Easter.” Positive thinking and optimism makes us feel physically, emotionally and psychologically better.
How does Pope Francis advise us to invite joy despite suffering in the world? (Evangelii Gaudium no. 6)
Write a list of all those things that bring you joy and you are grateful for in a poetic form with the title: Joy is….
Joy is the sound of raindrops thundering on our roof as we sit warm and dry by the open fire.
9. When Jorge Mario Bergoglio was elected pope, he took the name Francis – after St Francis of Assisi. Why do you think it’s an appropriate name for the pope to take, given his views on the church?
a. What are the similarities and differences between the pope and St Francis? Research the life of St Francis and compare and contrast to Pope Francis and his views on the poor, the environment, the Catholic faith and other important issues.
b. “St Francis and Pope Francis do share a common vision: You can find meaning, purpose, and passion in life, and the way to do this is through friendship with God.” (Saint Francis, Pope Francis: A Common Vision). Do you agree with this statement? Can you give an example of the common vision they share? Which example is the most important to you personally and why?
10. In a group, find the procedures involved when electing a new pope. Based on Pope Francis’ election, write a script, a media report or a re-enactment of the event. Use historical evidence, current journalism, interfaith viewpoints from other religious world leaders, and the meaning of rituals (such as the smoke from the chimney in the Vatican and the papal emblems, clothing colours, etc).
The lesson plan for Pope Francis is available from the button below.
Classroom Activity Sheets