Para la versión en español, haga clic aquí.
Earth Day is celebrated throughout the world on April 22, and the Catholic Church joins in this celebration to create awareness about the importance of the relationship between humanity and nature. In 2015, Pope Francis wrote the encyclical Laudato si’ (On Care for Our Common Home) in which he urgently appeals “for a new dialogue about how we are shaping the future of our planet” (14). He even added the care for our common home as a new work of mercy in 2016.
In 2006, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops formed the Catholic Climate Covenant to respond to the Pope’s call to care for the earth and for the poor through education programs and actionable initiatives. This year, they created a one-hour educational and prayer program called “Restore Our Common Home” that you could share with families to encourage them to participate in the Catholic Church’s efforts not only to protect, but also to restore God’s wonderful Creation.
Every week in the GROW newsletter, you will find a helpful tip for teaching your Gospel Weeklies lesson, a reflection on the Sunday Gospel, and information about our online resources and seasonal activities. Here are tips for teaching the Gospel Weeklies lessons this week:
Lesson Theme: Jesus surprises his friends.
You might bring in a preschool-friendly fishing pole to enliven the “Going Fishing” story.
This lesson also helps you teach about the Pope. Think about how you can share an image of Pope Francis with the children. If you are meeting in person and there is a portrait or picture of Pope Francis in your parish or school, take the children to see it. (Even if they have seen the image many times, it is helpful to point out who the Holy Father is.) Or simply share a photo or image, especially of Pope Francis interacting with children. You can find pictures at the Vatican website.
We suggest you separate pages 1–2 from 3–4 in the children’s copies of Seeds before class. Make a copy of the booklet in advance to model how it will look when finished.
Lesson Theme: Jesus brings us peace.
Find a coloring page to accompany “Grandpa Snowbird” here.
We suggest that you assemble supplies for the “Grandpa Snowbird” story before class. Each child will need drawing paper and one crayon of each color: brown, green, red, and yellow.
Have your copy of the Holy Week booklet from the 3/28 lesson on hand to review before sharing the Gospel.
For the Peace Banners, it’s helpful to cut lengths of yarn in advance. Each child will need one length of yarn, plus crayons, scissors, and a small dowel, straw, or pencil. You will need a hole punch. Have tape on hand to secure the banners if necessary.
Lesson Theme: Jesus lives!
As you lead the cover activity, you’ll note that the Teaching Guide offers eleven possible answers. The children may come up with even more. As you write their responses on the board, put a star next to anything that refers to the primary signs of Jesus’ presence: the Word, the assembly, Holy Communion, and the person of the priest. Note that these are ways Jesus is actually present at Mass. But remember to acknowledge that all the children’s answers show signs of Jesus’ love; they are all correct and important.
This lesson also delves into feelings surrounding the death of a pet. We suggest you read “Remembering Buddy” ahead of time to prepare. You may wish to light a candle as you read it aloud or perhaps bring a photo of a beloved pet that you have lost. Be aware of the children’s emotions as you read the story.
For the activity on page 4, have the children cut out the pictures and place them in the boxes. Caution the children to make sure all the pictures are in the correct boxes before gluing them down.
Lesson Theme: Jesus opens his disciples’ minds.
For the play-drama, cut the red hearts from construction paper ahead of your class meeting.
We also suggest you read the script in advance. By this time in the school year, you know your students well enough to match various personalities to the parts, so feel free to assign roles as you see fit. Or you may invite the students to volunteer for the various roles.
Point out the emotion-charged words and phrases in the italic type, such as “nervously pacing” and “they appear anxious and afraid.” Invite the students to think about how they can use their faces and bodies to convey these actions and encourage them to really lean into their roles.
For the questions about missionaries on page 6, be ready with the story or information about the missionaries who shared the Good News with the people of your own background. You can also invite a parish leader or longtime parishioner to tell stories about parish or school history. If that’s not possible, consider asking RCIA leaders from your parish to share stories of how they have shared the Good News with other adults in your local community.
Lesson Theme: God raised the crucified Jesus.
Have Bibles, notebook paper, and pens and pencils ready for the students to complete the cover activity. Encourage them to recall from memory as many key words and messages as they can before checking the Gospel reference.
For the “Living the Gospel” section on pages 6–7, you may wish to divide up the priest parts to give everyone a chance to speak at least some of these words. When you have completed the prayer activity, ask the students how it felt to say these words normally spoken by a priest at Mass. Ask how it felt to hear these words spoken by someone of their own age.
The story of Vivienne Harr is a good one to connect to Earth Day on April 22. Visit laudatotree.org in advance to learn more.
DON’T FORGET to check out our Unit 4 Overview Webinars. You can find them in English and in Spanish here.
Image credit: Chinnapong/Shutterstock.com