From Fr. JC’s Desk: “The Disciple’s Journal”

Last week I wrote about how we are restructuring the Religious Education program.  The goal to emphasize that we are forming disciples — which is what Jesus commands us to do.

The Disciple’s Journal (which I am creating) is meant to be a tool in following Jesus.  The New Testament is basically journals of some of the first and closest disciples of Jesus (OK, they were written through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, so they have a Divine authorship too).  They are the writings of what those first disciples learned from Jesus and from following Him.  The New Testament is what Jesus taught, how the Disciples reacted to His teaching, and then how they tried to put His teaching into practice in their lives so that they could have life more abundantly.

The Church tells us that parents are the first teachers of the Faith to their children.  Not only should parents be teaching their children their first prayers (how to make the Sign of the Cross, the Our Father, and Hail Mary), but parents should also be witnessing to their children the importance of their own relationship with Jesus.  Children should see their parents praying, talking with Jesus and listening to Him.  Through such a witness, children come have their own encounter with Jesus; learning that He loves them, and that He wants them to be happy — truly and eternally happy.

The most profound way that we encounter Christ Jesus is at the Sunday Mass.  The Eucharist is the “source and summit” of the Catholic Faith.  So all Religious Education, which is really the formation of disciples, needs to center itself on the Eucharistic Celebration.

For each week of the year, there are four pages in the journal.  The first page focuses on the Sunday Mass.  There are three prompts for the “disciple on the Way” to write.  

  • “Know” — Basically this is where you write a summary of the main teaching from the readings.  What was the main point in what Jesus said or did?
  • “Wonder” — What was your reaction to what Jesus said and did?  Did it raise some questions for you that maybe you would like to learn more about?  These would be good things to share with your family and/or in class.
  • “Act” — How can you apply what Jesus did or said to your own life this week.  Did Jesus heal someone after they showed faith in Him?  Is there a sick person you can call or visit?  How can you show greater faith in Jesus’ promise to give us a more abundant life now, and eternal life later?

The next page is the “Living As Disciples Through the Week” page.  First there is a section for the student to write how has God blessed them that week with the intention of becoming more aware of Jesus’ presence in their lives and how He is always offering us grace/gifts.  The second part of the “Living As Disciples Through the Week” page is “What am I going to pray for at Mass next Sunday?”  We are all called to bring the needs of our lives and the world to God.  

The last two pages for the week, is basically the notebook for Religious Education.  We will be using the Faith and Life series, being made available online through My Catholic Faith Delivered.  These pages are organized around the same Know – Wonder – Act format as used for the Sunday Mass readings.  As the student watches each lesson online, they write their notes in the Know section, any questions and reactions they have to what was in the lesson in the Wonder section, and finally how they think they can apply the lesson to their lives that week in the Act section.

Finally, we have published on the parish website, on the Religious Education page ( a brief survey that asks about the best days and times for religious education, and whether we should group the children in a primary and middle school format, or keep the “Angels” and “Saints” format of two sessions, each with classes for K-8.  A few of you have already completed the survey; thank you.  I ask the other parents to also go online and complete the survey.

About Fr. JC

Ordained a priest for the Diocese of Trenton, NJ, in 2004. Currently the Pastor of Resurrection Parish in Delran, NJ.
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