The Catholic Tool that All Teachers Need
Did you know that Bishop Barron's CATHOLICISM series has been adapted for the classroom? It's called CATHOLICISM: School Enrichment, and whether you're a teacher, catechist, or parent, this collection of high-quality video clips will illuminate everything you teach and explain.
Timothy Sennett, a theology teacher at St. Joseph by-the-Sea High School in Staten Island, NY, recently shared his experiences using CATHOLICISM: School Enrichment.
When I began my career as a high school Religion teacher in 2012, I felt lucky that I was coming into the business at right around the same time that Fr. Robert Barron (now Bishop Barron) and his Word on Fire team put out their acclaimed CATHOLICISM series. Fr. Barron was, for me and many others, already regarded as one of the most effective teachers of the Catholic faith in the American Catholic Church. With the introduction of the CATHOLICISM series, viewers were given all of the best characteristics of Fr. Barron’s previous work—the love for Sacred Scripture and Apostolic Tradition, the blend of faith and reason, the strong sense of the modern world and culture—packaged in what is surely the most comprehensive and professionally executed film presentation of the Catholic faith in existence. Of course I was eager to share it with my students.
In that first year, I purchased a copy of the CATHOLICISM series DVD boxed set, and, while sitting at home and watching all ten of its episodes—covering subjects from the Liturgy to Our Lady—I filtered through them and chose select portions of footage for use in my classroom. For example, when watching Episode 2, entitled “Happy Are We: The Teachings of Jesus,” I felt in no way inclined to show all 52 minutes to my 16-year-old students, but I did see an opportunity to pull from it a beautifully crafted (and much more reasonably-lengthed) presentation on the Parable of the Prodigal Son. I knew it would fit perfectly in my lessons on the Sacrament of Reconciliation; and I’ve been using that clip ever since.
To do this was no doubt very time-consuming. I painstakingly committed myself to watching over eight hours of content, hoping to find bits and pieces that were at once relevant to the courses I taught and condensed enough that they would be palatable to my young students. And while it proved to be a fruitful exercise, I wished someone could have done it for me.
Well, now they have.
The CATHOLICISM: School Enrichment program includes everything that makes the original CATHOLICISM series so great, but organizes it with the middle and high school teacher (and curricula) in mind. Now, when I want my juniors to hear what Bishop Barron has to say about the Eucharist, I no longer need to fish through all 48 minutes of Episode 7 of the CATHOLICISM series for useful material. I can simply pull up the CATHOLICISM: School Enrichment program and go straight to the Grade 11 portion, where I will find exactly the content I want and nothing more. Simple.
But to anyone who might suggest that this product is just a restructured version of the original CATHOLICISM series, I would have something to say about the “For Teachers, By Teachers” touch that is so evident in this program. Each of the 46 video vignettes is accompanied by a fully formed lesson plan created by a team of real teachers from the Archdiocese of New York (full disclosure: of those twelve teachers, I was one), including supplementary materials designed with clear respect for the autonomy of the teacher. In fact, one of the great traits of the CATHOLICISM: School Enrichment program, in my experience, is that it allows teachers to lead the way, giving them room to exercise their personal strengths and make the adaptations necessary to their unique circumstances and teaching styles.
Like the CATHOLICISM series before it, the CATHOLICISM: School Enrichment program is a top-of-the-line resource for Catholic educators. With the teacher in the driver’s seat, Bishop Barron comes in for the “assist,” as it were, presenting the Catholic faith, as always, with clarity and conviction. Only this time, the format is designed to uniquely serve classroom Religion teachers in their sacred mission of promoting the Catholic faith and putting their students into touch with Jesus Christ.
I only wish it came along sooner.
Click below to learn more about CATHOLICISM: School Enrichment: