The Year of Faith is the celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of the Second Vatican Council and the twentieth anniversary of the publication of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. While many students have never seen or heard of the Catechism, others can become so intimidated by the size, small print, paragraphs, notes, and numbers that even reading the Catechism can be daunting. As adult catechists and teachers, even we can be intimidated by the Catechism!
Use the following lesson plan to provide a brief overview and introduction to the Catechism of the Catholic Church. The four parts of the Catechism should help students see the big picture of the book. Once they understand the four parts, they can begin to use the book in a deeper way. Slowly introduce them to the Catechism and in time the book can become a good reference during class lessons. Or, if you teach younger children, at least make your students aware of the Catechism so that when they get older they will use the book as a part of their study of the Catholic faith.
Catechism Lesson Plan Objectives
- SWBAT list the four parts of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
- SWBAT describe how the Catechism is organized (parts, chapters, numbers).
- SWBAT find the page number that certain paragraph numbers of the Catechism are on.
- SWBAT use the index to find topics in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
Catechism Lesson Activities
1. What is the Catechism?
Have your students ever seen the Catechism? Have they ever heard of it? Hold up a copy of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. First, ask the students if anyone can tell you and the rest of the class about the Catechism. Take some of the answers. If students are unsure about the book, ask them to guess what they think the book contains. Accept all possible responses.
2. Catechism Video
Have the students watch the Four Parts of the Catechism video or show it in front of the class. In preparation for the video, have them fold a piece of paper twice to make four boxes. Have them label each box: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4. Play the video. While the students watch the video, have them copy on their sheets the titles and content of each part of the Catechism.
3. Using Pictures to Understand the Parts of the Catechism
After students watch the video, review it as a class. On the back of each box, have students draw a picture to represent the focus of each part of the Catechism. So for part 3, for example, students could draw a picture of the two stone tablets with the Ten Commandments. For part 4, they could draw a picture of two praying hands.
While they draw their pictures, draw a few pictures of your own on the board to represent each part but put them out of order. Draw as many as you can think of. When the students complete their drawings, give them some time to share them with a partner. Then, have them look to the board. Quiz them on the images. Ask them to identify which part of the Catechism each of your pictures represents.
4. Catechism Scavenger Hunt
I shared a fun Catechism scavenger hunt activity at the Ave Maria Press Engaging Faith blog not long ago. Use or adapt that activity to help students get used to navigating the inside of the Catechism.
5. Online Versions of the Catechism
There are a few great online versions of the Catechism that are great for reference. The USCCB has their own searchable Catechism online. St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church has the classic, searchable Catechism that teachers have been using for years. Also, Matthew Warner’s Flocknote has a great program in honor of the Year of Faith in which you get daily updates with excerpts from the Catechism so you can read the Catechism in a year. These are all great tools that older students should be aware of.
6. Assessment: Catechism Exit Card
Check student understanding with a quick formative assessment. On a notecard or blank sheet of paper (this is the exit card), have students list in four separate boxes the four parts of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Ask them to describe the content of each part, not just the title. So, Part 3: Life in Christ would be described as the part about morality or making good choices. Quickly check their answers for understanding.