Understanding that simply teaching about the Works of Mercy, the Beatitudes, and Catholic social doctrine does not automatically translate into action and that requiring individual service hours does not spontaneously bring the community together, Saint John School in Encinitas, CA, has introduced a “Faith in Action” program to supplement the middle-school religion curriculum.
This one-trimester-a-year course forms and empowers students over a three-year cycle to guide the school in service to people in need. Because it takes place mostly during school hours, the program overcomes the logistical problems that overbooked students and their families face despite their desire to help. Students begin the course by reflecting upon the Gospel call to serve. They examine Scripture and Church Tradition, watch consciousness-raising videos, and hear speakers from parish and diocesan ministries discuss subjects ranging from how a food pantry works to the universal destination of earthly goods.
Students also regularly offer prayers for people’s needs and receive training in how to discern God’s will as well as in leadership skills.