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Arrange for students to perform service activities involving specific populations impacted by the issues identified in Faithful Citizenship (e.g. homeless shelter, pregnancy center, Habitat for Humanity, etc.) in the weeks before the election.In your reflection and discussion time after each activity, read with the youth excerpts from Faithful Citizenship that relate to the issue. Help the youth to learn about the Catholic social teaching theme(s) that guide our faith perspective on the issues.Encourage youth to ask questions about the causes of the injustices and to think of ideas of how to respond through advocacy.
Sponsor an "open mic" night based on themes from Faithful Citizenship, such as the calling of all Catholics to protect the life and dignity of all people, or teen participation in building a better world. The event should be announced weeks in advance to give teens ample time to prepare poetry, music, or other creative expressions. Offering refreshments and prizes are always good for attendance.
Write a Prayer
Have students write a prayer about an issue mentioned in Faithful Citizenship. You can ask students to volunteer to share their prayers as part of a group prayer time. If authors are willing, the prayers can be featured on a bulletin board in a public area of the church or parish center for the rest of the parish community to see, or one prayer could be featured each week in the parish bulletin in the months leading up to the elections.
Divide youth into seven small groups and assign each group one of the Catholic social teaching themes in Faithful Citizenship. Each small group will be responsible for developing part of a prayer service for Faithful Citizenship. You may want to provide a standard format so that each section looks similar. (For example, you could ask them to select a quote from Faithful Citizenship about their theme and to write a short response that all will say together to pray for the realization of the theme, etc.) However, do leave enough room for youth creativity.For example, they could be asked to come up with a symbol of that theme to use in their section of the service.
Rosary for Respect for Life and Human Dignity
Invite teens to pray the Scriptural Rosary for Peace and Justice together as a response to Faithful Citizenship's call for Catholics to be active, faithful citizens. Teen leaders can take turns leading each decade.
Faithful Citizenship and Adoration
Students can be asked to spiritually "bring" different themes and issues from Faithful Citizenship to Eucharistic adoration, so that each student is responsible for praying for resolution of different issues, the people who are affected by them, and policymakers.Student prayer can be scheduled during 15 minute segments throughout a retreat in an ongoing "prayer chain" format.
Prophets for Human Life and Dignity
Small groups of students should be given information on a biblical prophet or a modern-day Catholic leader who is a role model of faith-inspired work to promote human life and dignity. Students should then put together a skit illustrating the prophet's life and work. (Optional "charades" variation: groups could prepare in secrecy, with other groups having to guess which prophet the performing group is illustrating.)
Issues and CST
1)Divide the document into sections and have students circle or highlight all the issues that are mentioned in each section.
2)Use a flip-chart or dry erase board to make a list of all the issues.
3)Assign one or two issues to small groups of students.
4)Have the students:
a.Create small presentations to answer the question, "How does this issue relate to the Catholic social teaching themes? Why does our faith require that we be concerned about this issue?" OR
b.Develop short skits to illustrate why the issues are important in the light of our faith.
Relating to Real People Activity
In partners, have students look through newspapers and periodicals, or search on the web, to find stories of real people impacted by the issues addressed in Faithful Citizenship (e.g. poverty, abortion, environment, war, immigration, etc.) If the student knows someone personally who is impacted by the issue (e.g. a relative, friend, their own family, etc.) it is fine to use this as an example instead. Then have students present the person and story they chose within their small group, answering key questions:
1)Introduce the person or family you chose to focus on. Who are they? Where are they from? What is their situation?
2)How were/are they impacted by the issue of focus?
3)What changes in public policy could help in this person's situation?
4)How does your faith call you to respond to (and with) this person and their situation?
Faithful Citizenship Café
Host a "coffee hour" where teens can come together over their favorite hot drinks and discuss Faithful Citizenship. Use the "Conversations Over Coffee" Faithful Citizenship discussion guide resource (found in the "Parish and School Leaders" section of the website) along with the two-sided bulletin insert of the Faithful Citizenship document (The Challenge of Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship) to spark conversation at each table. Students from your peer ministry team or student volunteers can make creative coffee drinks and snacks and serve as waiters/waitresses before the event begins.
Card ContestOnce the teens that you work with have learned about Faithful Citizenship and recognized their responsibility to apply their faith in the public realm, make available to them the business-card-size Faithful Citizenship cards (which can be downloaded and printed from the "Parish and School Leaders" section of the Faithful Citizenship website). Explain why it is important for all Catholics to be aware of the statement. Sponsor a contest in which teens compete to pass the cards out to their friends and family, keeping a log of the people to whom they distribute the cards. Having conversations about Faithful Citizenship in addition to passing out the cards could be worth extra points. (Possible variation: Instead of passing out paper cards, teens could compete to email to others the Faithful Citizenship e-postcards found on the Youth section of the Faithful Citizenship website.
Debate on Religion and Politics
Teens should form two teams to debate the Church's call to responsible citizenship and the moral obligation to participate in the political process. One team argues in favor of civic engagement viewed through the lens of faith and the other team presents reasons why religion and politics shouldn't mix. The debate should be followed by a discussion utilizing quotes from the Faithful Citizenship document, particularly paragraphs five to sixteen.
Make sure that youth are aware of the interactive Youth section of the Faithful Citizenship website. Videos, interactive quizzes, podcasts, e-postcards, personal prayer activities, and other activities to facilitate youth interaction with the Faithful Citizenship statement are available at this special Youth section.
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