All Saints' Day: Unmasking Saints
About this articleThis creative activity is intended to help young adolescents learn a little about their Catholic heritage by exploring the life and work of their patron saint or a favorite saint.
Unmasking Saints: A Learning Activity for All Saints' Day
This creative activity helps young adolescents learn a little about their Catholic heritage by exploring the life and work of their patron saint or a favorite saint.
Group Size: This strategy works best with no more than ten young people.
Suggested Time: 45 to 60 minutes, depending on how elaborate the projects are
- biographical books about saints
- access to the Internet (optional)
- pieces of white poster board, 10-by-14 inches, one for each person
- colored paper
- scraps of material
- a hole punch
Preparation. Before meeting with your group, reflect on the story of your own patron saint or a saint that you admire.
Write the following sentence-starters on newsprint:
- My saint's name is . . .
- My saint lived . . . (when and where)
- Something interesting I found out about my saint is . . .
1. Introduce the activity by briefly making, in your own words, the following comments on the significance of saints in our heritage:
Saints are people like us who had a deep relationship with God. Their lives are inspirational, and they can serve as holy mentors for our own faith journeys. Patron saints are either saints whose name we share or saints who have a connection to our work or hobby.
2. Make available to the young people a variety of biographical books about saints. Tell them to look up their patron saint or a favorite saint. If someone has a name that is common to several saints, tell them to read various biographies and choose the saint that they would like to hold up as a model. For example, someone with the name John could choose Saint John the Baptist, Saint John the Evangelist, Saint John of the Cross, Saint John Baptist de La Salle, or another Saint John.
Ask the young people to work in teams and to share the resources if necessary. If access to the Internet is available, allow some young teens to work on the computer. One web site that contains information on all known saints is catholic.org/saints/.
3. Give each young person a 10-by-14-inch piece of white poster board. Provide a variety of tools, including scissors, markers, pencils, yarn, colored paper, scraps of material, and glue. Tell the participants to make a mask of what they imagine their saint looked like, striving to be as authentic as possible. For example, if their patron saint is female, was she a nun? a child? a young woman? Note that the mask should look like the real person in her or his time, not like a cartoon character or an abstract person. Set a clear time limit for this part of the activity.
When the young people have each finished their mask, tell them to punch a hole on either side of it and attach string so that they can tie it around their head.
4. After everyone has finished, invite them to put on their mask. Then display the newsprint list of sentence-starters you have prepared, and ask the young people to complete the sentences aloud.
5. To conclude this exercise, ask everyone, with their mask on, to stand in a circle. Invite each person to state loudly the name of her or his saint. Pray the following prayer, or a spontaneous prayer on the same theme:
O God, may we learn to follow your ways as these saints have done. Help us to become holy people who teach others how to grow closer to you. For all the saints we have named, and for those who are yet undiscovered, we are grateful. Amen.
- Begin the activity by asking the young people to come up with a definition of a saint. They might work in small groups to complete this sentence: "A saint is someone who . . ."
- Expand the discussion part of this activity by asking the young people for ideas about modern saints. For example, you might ask who they think young people fifty years from now will be reading about in a book about saints. Or ask them who in their daily life they consider to have saintly qualities.
- Explain to the group how someone becomes a saint. Your parish or local library should have a book on Catholic practices that provides information on canonization.
AcknowledgmentsThis activity is taken from HELP series: Holiday and Seasonal Ideas for Ministry with Young Teens, a manual in the HELP series, by Carole Goodwin and Marilyn Kielbasa [Winona, MN: Saint Mary's Press, 2000], pages 86-89. Copyright © 2000 by Saint Mary's Press. Permission is granted for this activity to be used for classroom or campus ministry purposes. This activity may not be republished in any form without written permission from Saint Mary's Press. To order this book, contact Saint Mary's Press at 800-533-8095, or visit our online catalog at www.smp.org/catalog.cfm.
Published October 24, 2003.