Teaching the Conclave

As long as I was a teacher, I was excited for this conclave. I had such plans of how to make it come alive for my kids–you can imagine my disappointment when I realized that I wasn’t going to get to do anything, not having a classroom anymore. But I figure plenty of you do, so here’s what I’d do:

  1. How could you not love him?

    Do some kind of tribute to our current Holy Father leading up to Thursday. Read parts of an encyclical, tell the story of his life, say a rosary for him, discuss how these authors love him, or check out this candid interview from 2010. Talk especially about his heroism in stepping down and what this might mean for the Church in the future. Discuss what problems the Church is facing now and how the Holy Father has shepherded us through the past 8 years.

  2. If your school’s technology guidelines permit, have your kids join in the #ThanksPontifex Twitter storm on Thursday, especially from 7:45-8:15pm Rome time (1:45-2:15 EST). You might want to run it by an administrator first, but I think it would be very powerful to your kids if you told them that you’re going to ask them to tweet in class. Brainstorming different things to say could be a good element of your tribute to him.
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  3. Show this slightly tongue-in-cheek video about how to become pope to help them understand who the pope is in the Church. Follow it with some apologetics defending the papacy–more on that later in the week.
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  4. Click through this cool interactive graphic thingy for details on just how the conclave works. Check out some great links at EWTN if you want more than just a cool clicky thing.
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  5. Conclave debateFrame the “search for a new pope” with this article in which the author tells the media to quit being so ridiculous. It’s easy to listen to all the pundits talking about what the Church needs in a pope–as it turns out, what we need is God’s will. High schoolers should have no trouble reading it–summarize the ideas for younger kids. The most important point the author makes is that truth can’t change. No matter who’s elected, it will have no effect on Church teaching.
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  6. Having established that doctrine can’t change, have the kids describe what they’d like to see in a pope in an essay or a drawing, depending on age group. Discuss nationality, age, previous experience, education–what do you think our Church needs right now?1
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  7. Show this picture. First kid to laugh gets extra credit.

    Have every kid pick a cardinal.2 Either let them choose their favorite in their essay or randomize it using Adopt A Cardinal. Have your kids pray for their Cardinals–heck, you could even run it like a student government election and have them campaign for their cardinals. Promise some awesome prize to the kid whose cardinal wins–a week of dress down days or a fun day in class or ice cream or something. If they’re rooting for someone–especially if they really want to win–they might actually care about this. That would be awesome.3

  8. Debate what name the new pope should choose. Do we need a John to keep with the spirit of reform, a social justice Leo, or a Gregory to bring back more traditional liturgical practices? (Before some punk kid suggests it, tell them Petrus Romanus is not an option.)
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  9. When habemus papam, cancel lesson plans, turn on some news source that won’t malign our new Holy Father, bring out snacks, and eat and watch TV all day. It’s something to celebrate!
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  10. Pray, pray, pray–for our current Holy Father, for our future Holy Father, for the cardinal electors, for the media, for disgruntled Catholics. Pray as a class, pray as a school, pray as homework. Remember that this is in God’s hands. How exciting!

All right, fellow teachers, help each other out. What ideas/projects/lesson plans/resources do you have? Let’s team up to make our kids LOVE the papacy!

  1. Personally, I’m pulling for a Russian or Greek Eastern rite bishop in his 60s. I know it’s not likely, but I think that with all the work JPII and Benedict did towards reunification with the East, a move like that could bring thousands of people back into union with Rome–given a 20+ year pontificate, that is. []
  2. This list sorts them from youngest to oldest and has some pretty good facts-at-a-glance. []
  3. If you homeschool, give each of your kids a continent. You have enough kids for that, right? Give your least favorite kid Antarctica. []

About Meg

I'm a Catholic, madly in love with the Lord, His Word, His Bride the Church, and especially His Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity in the Eucharist. I'm committed to the Church not because I was raised this way but because the Lord has drawn my heart and convicted my reason. After 2 degrees in theology and 5 years in the classroom, I quit my 9-5 to follow Christ more literally. Since May of 2012, I've been a hobo for Christ; I live out of my car and travel the country speaking to youth and adults, giving retreats, blogging, and trying to rock the world for Jesus.
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6 Responses to Teaching the Conclave

  1. Tina S. says:

    Meg, great ideas!

    Best line though: “If you homeschool, give each of your kids a continent. You have enough kids for that, right?” Love it! 😀

    • Melissa says:

      I liked “Give your least favorite kid Antarctica.” Another idea is to have your youngest kid get Antarctica and draw a picture of a snowy day or something. That’s assuming a kid maybe between four and six years old.

  2. Katie says:

    I think we should have a pope choose a cool-white-boy name like Blake or Wesley 😉

  3. Very creative and insightful ideas! Thank you for sharing! I especially enjoyed the video on selecting the pope given it’s carefree nature I think many students would be able to track it quite well.
    Lifesjourney Blog recently posted…Rest stop (Saturday) … where the wind blowsMy Profile

  4. Thank you very much. These are great ideas to help kids understand the conclave and the switch of Popes. If I have time to write about this, I’ll mention you back. #ThanksPontifex

  5. I just want to say how much I loved this post and all your ideas. Yesterday the younger kids and I adopted a cardinal, and my 9yo son got the second-youngest cardinal Luis Tagle (his name was being tossed around as pope-possible–is that papabile?). Thanks for sharing it!
    Nancy Piccione recently posted…First, What Are You Reading? Volume 30My Profile

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