Back by popular demand, Dr. Ann David and her team gathered in June to lead a workshop about their acclaimed curriculum on women religious.
The second annual workshop was titled “Teaching the Lives of Sisters: Engaging Tweens & Teens in Their Catholic Faith” and hosted by the National Catholic Sisters Project and the University of the Incarnate Word. It was held at the Mexican American Catholic College in San Antonio.
About 30 participants from across the country – including leaders of Spanish-speaking programs and others from Chinese-speaking parishes – made up the diverse group gathered to learn about the curriculum. They were parish catechists, directors of religious education, middle- and high-school religion teachers and diocesan employees.
This year’s group included more teachers, catechists and religious-education directors than last year’s workshop – more people who are directly interacting with young people, the curriculum’s audience.
“I was struck by the ways that the participants really dug into the curriculum,” said Curriculum Coordinator Dr. David. “They carefully read sections and had detailed discussions about how they could use pieces of it and whole sections in their parish religious-ed programs. So many were so open about their own learning and growing understanding throughout the conference.”
Rose Radkowski, who authored the curriculum’s forthcoming history unit, delighted the group with an overview of the history of women religious, Dr. David said. “It was quite a feat: 2,000 years of history in about 40 minutes.”
Radkowski, an Ohio mom who has a master’s degree in theology, described the workshop as a welcome opportunity to network and share insights.
“It was fun to talk about catechetical situations around the country,” she said. “Students who use the curriculum are learning new things about religious life, about their faith and about the Church. Students are interested in the stories of the lives of sisters and nuns. They can make connections between these new stories and their own lives.”
Another popular presentation came from Rosi Cortez, the Director of Mission and Ministry for Incarnate Word High School, who offered a thoughtful reflection based on the Pre-Synodal Document for the Synod on Young People, Faith and Discernment. It explored what tweens and teens want from their faith: belonging, purpose, knowledge of Jesus and answers to hard questions.
Participants noted that the workshop was enhanced by the beautiful setting at MACC: garden paths, quiet rooms and a lively mix of students. They said they appreciated the opportunity to eat lunch in the cafeteria with seminarians, archdiocesan staff and MACC students.
The workshop was rooted in the history of the Latino church in the U.S. Participants toured Mission Concepcion and Mission San Jose, some of the nation’s oldest Catholic churches.
As a new school year begins, participants are staying in touch as they implement tips from the workshop. It built on the momentum that continues since the 2017 launch of the curriculum, Called & Consecrated: Exploring the Lives of Women Religious. Launched in 2017, it is the first curriculum of its kind – online, bilingual and free, designed for students in sixth through 12th grade to illuminate the lives and legacies of Catholic sisters.