Pupils at St. Perpetua School in Lafayette took what they heard in Bishop Barber's homily at the Cathedral of Christ the Light and put it to work in their classroom.
MICHELE JURICH/THE CATHOLIC VOICE
Teaching in a Year of Mercy
As a teacher of eighth-grade religion at St. Perpetua School, I was privileged to travel with my class to a Mass on Oct. 7 celebrating our eighth-grade students from all over our Oakland diocese. More than 1,200 eighth-graders attended this event and had the opportunity to pray together.
The day at Cathedral of Christ the Light was joyful for many reasons. Our class of 34 enjoyed taking the BART train together and walking excitedly to see friends from other schools. The diocese had planned a day full of fun and games, and a little bit of rainfall made the day that much more special.
Bishop Michael C. Barber, SJ, celebrated the Mass and spoke in his homily about the "Year of Mercy" declared by Pope Francis. The bishop challenged the teachers in attendance to take time in class to reflect on the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. I made a note to discuss this with my class on the next day of school.
In March, Pope Francis referred to Luke 6:36, in which Jesus tells his disciples, "Be merciful as your Father is merciful." I asked my eighth-grade students what this meant to them. Below are some of the responses to Pope Francis and Bishop Barber's invitation.
"The year of mercy means that we should strive to be kind and forgiving throughout the year. We must help others find unconditional love of people, and be set free of living in doubt." — James Jolin
"To me, it means that it is a year where we need to especially focus on the ways that we can be merciful toward others. Whenever an opportunity presents itself to be merciful, we should always take it." — Natalie Goodwin
"We need to be compassionate for each other, put ourselves in their shoes, and forgive them." — Jack Byers
"Don't judge a book by its cover, and give everyone a chance." — Nathan Bashant-Coon
"Be kind and forgiving to everyone." — Campbell Hoskins
"To me a year of mercy is a year striving to be like Jesus." — Maggie Heiskell
The inspiration of Pope Francis to capture the minds and passions of teenage students in our diocese is a wonderful thing. This year I will teach from a perspective that is mindful of mercy. In attempting to live as a model and example when preparing class materials and lessons, I am seeking out positive news, inspiration and opportunities for my students.
St. Perpetua encourages students to serve those in need in our community surrounding Lafayette. Students all complete volunteer hours, with many students exceeding the requirement each year. One of the main parts of the St. Perpetua School Mission is that "We are determined to provide our children in grades K-8 with Gospel values and the skills to meet the challenges of our changing world."
The focus on corporal and spiritual works of mercy is a chance for students to grow as Catholics. This educational lesson provides a chance to reflect, and develop spiritually as we strive toward walking in the path of Jesus.
(Danny Hauger teaches eighth grade at St. Perpetua School in Lafayette.)
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