Back to School: Saintly Guest Speaker

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Who would your students want to have speak to them?

Saintly Guest Speaker?

This activity is designed to have your students move around a little, look at the lives of a few saints, assess where they are in their spiritual lives, and help you assess how they are feeling about their faith journey at the beginning of the school year.

Select 6 or 7 saints who represent a wide variety of life journeys and relationships with God. We have provided 7 below that you can use. However, feel free to find ones that would fit your students better.

Ask each student to get out a piece of paper (scrap paper is fine, they will not be turning this in) or you can provide each student with a note card.

Read a brief summary of the saints that you have selected and ask your students to write on the note card or scrap paper the name of the one they would want to bring in to speak to the class.

Ask them to do this personally without sharing what they write down with others in the class. You may want to write the names of the saints on the board or an overhead with key words describing the saint. This will help the students identify the details of that person.

Instruct your students to find others in the class who selected the same saint. You might have a disproportionate number of students in groups. That's fine.

The direct each group to come up with 4 reasons why they selected that saint. When this is completed have on person from each group present their reasons.

Brigid of Ireland

Saint Brigid was a slave who constantly gave away her owners possessions to the poor. She refused to accept an arranged marriage and entered to convent. One legend is that when she said her final vows Saint Patrick mistakenly used the form for ordaining priests. She started many convents all over Ireland and was an extensive traveler.

Anthony of the Desert

Anthony was a wealthy Egyptian man who gave away everything he had to the poor. He went and lived in the desert to pursue his relationship with God. Because of his radical life, many people came to join him. He is recognized as the first monk. People used to come and seek wisdom from him. But rather than offer wisdom to them he would say that one does not need wisdom. One needs faith.

Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton

Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton is the first native-born American to be canonized. She grew up in a wealthy, non-Catholic family. She had a brief but happy marriage. When her husband grew sick, her husband, her children and she moved to Italy. While in Italy, she began to be attracted to the Catholic Church and eventually became Catholic. When her husband died, she came back to the United States and started the first free Catholic school in the United States in Baltimore.

Saint Augustine

Saint Augustine spent the first part of life in loose living. He drank hard, partied hard and lived with a woman who was not his wife. However, he was incredibly brilliant. He was famous for the speeches he would give. Due in large part to his mother's prayers, Saint Augustine eventually gave his life to Christ. He became a priest, bishop and one of the greatest theologians in the Church.

Saint Bernadette

Saint Bernadette was born into severe poverty in Lourdes, France. One day while her sister and she went to gather firewood, Mary appeared to her. During one of the 17 times that Mary appeared to Bernadette, she was instructed to dig in the mud. As she dug, water began to flow out from the ground. Now, at that site, there is great shrine through which the waters still flow. Countless healings have happened as people have immersed themselves in those waters.

Saint Thomas More

Saint Thomas More was an English lawyer born in 1478. He was very able lawyer and writer. Eventually, he gained the attention of King Henry VIII who appointed Thomas to the high position of Lord Chancellor. Later, King Henry VIII broke allegiance with the Pope in order to divorce his wife and marry a woman who could produce a male heir for him. Saint Thomas refused to pay allegiance to King Henry and was executed for treason.

Saint Catherine of Siena

Saint Catherine of Siena is a doctor of the Church. This title is reserved for only the most influential of saints. Of the 33 doctors of the Church, only three are women. Saint Catherine was one of the most brilliant and influential theologians in her day. But even more than her sharp mind was her tough will. At the time the pope moved from Rome to Avignon France. Saint Catherine confronted the pope and told him he needed to get back to Rome.


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Published August 21, 2003.