Katie Taylor – a Religious Educator in the Public Square?

katie taylor

“Katie Taylor is a female boxer, which is rare enough, but she is also a born again Christian and unafraid to talk about her faith. Among young Irish people that makes her even rarer than a female boxer.”

The above quote was found within an article on www.irishcentral.com/opinion/others/when-irishwoman-katie-taylor-goes-for-olympic-gold-i-wont-be-watching-152528205-238132771.html and although I did not necessarily agree with what the author had to say overall I couldn’t help but be drawn to these particular words. It sums up exactly why I believe Katie Taylor can be viewed as a Religious Educator within the public square for two reasons. Firstly, she has strength (female boxer, strong faith) which many Irish young people lack in their faith today. Secondly, she is unafraid (female boxer, public expression of faith) which is in deep contrast to many Irish young people who would rather you asked them to show you the colour of their underwear than their religious orientation.

*Katie Taylor is a born-again Christian and attends St. Mark’s Pentecostal Church, Pearse Street, Dublin.*She attends Mass every Sunday with her parents.

*She was first coached in boxing by her father at age 12.

*She has won four gold medals at the World Amateur Championships and five gold medals at the European Amateur Championships.

*She was a gold medal winner at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.

Katie finds comfort and inspiration from the below passages during her training:

It is God that equipped me with strength and made my way perfect. He made my feet like the feet of a deer and set me secure on the heights.  He trains my hands for war, so that my arms can bend a bow of bronze.  You have given me the shield of your salvation, and your right hand supported me, and your gentleness made me great.  Psalm 18

May the Lord answer you when you are in distress; May the name of the God of Jacob protect you.  May he send you help from the sanctuary And grant you support from Zion.  May he remember all your sacrifices And accept your burnt offerings.  May he give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed.  May we shout for joy over your victory And lift up our banners in the name of our God. Psalm 20 

After her semi-final win at the Olympics London 2012 Katie said the following: 

katie taylor semi final

“It was a great win. An Olympic final tomorrow, what can I say. God is great. He is my shield, my strength. Glory to God. I have to go and be focused for tomorrow and forget about today. It’s a different fight altogether.”
After winning Gold at the Olympics in London 2012 Katie said the following: 
olympic win 3
olympic win 2
“I’m an Olympic champion. I’ve dreamed of this moment so many times before and now I’m here I just can’t believe the grace of God in my life right now. I just want to thank everyone for all their prayers, I’ve said it there yesterday aswell but all the prayers over the last week, I’d be nothing without God and I’m here because of the grace of God in my life and because of, you know, Jesus in my life, without him I’d be nothing really. So, praise God, thank you Jesus for such a great victory today.”
So why is Katie Taylor an example of Religious Education in the Public Square? 
*She is leading young people by example to not be afraid to express their faith in their everyday life.
*She is inspiring all young people to speak about their faith regardless of which religious background they come from.
*She has opened the doors for young people to re-engage with their faith and to openly discuss it with those around them at home and within the classroom.
*She is highlighting that our faith can have a place in all aspects of our lives.

*She teaches young people that their faith can be a source of guidance, inspiration and motivation.

According to leading sports psychologist Dr. Olivia Hurley:  

“When she talks about God and the angels being in the ring with her, she really means it. She is empowered by her beliefs. And when she speaks of how people’s prayers have helped her; there’s no doubt in my mind that she derives huge support from that. Some sports people look up to other figures in sport for inspiration or read motivational books like Lance Armstrong’s (It’s Not About The Bike: My Journey Back to Life) to help them compete and Katie does much the same, except her icon is God and her motivational reading is the Bible.“

I believe young people in Ireland should not be afraid or ashamed to feel the same empowerment from their faith as Katie Taylor and to utilise it in their everyday lives. 🙂

olympic win

Martin Luther King – An example of a Moral Model

martin luther king quote

 

Below is a PowerPoint presentation I made when teaching Morality to Third Year students. I used Martin Luther King as an example of a Moral Model. I began the lesson by discussing with the class the main characteristics of a moral person. I asked the students if they could identify any examples of a moral person in today’s society. I asked the students if they had a prior knowledge of the issue of civil rights for black people in America.

 

The students were shown a video clip which outlined the life and works of Martin Luther King and they were asked to answer the following questions:

  • Who was Martin Luther King?
  • How were black people treated during the 1950s?
  • Who was the lady who would not give up her seat on the bus?
  • What did Martin Luther King do for the Montgomery Bus Boycott in 1956?
  • How was Martin Luther King treated by white people?
  • Was the Montgomery Bus Boycott successful?
  • What Bill was passed in 1964?
  • What happened to Martin Luther King?

 

The students were then divided into groups and they were asked to engage in a brief discussion of the issue of racism and civil rights in America and the importance of Martin Luther King as a moral model in society. Each group was asked to identify and summarise any comparisons there may be between Martin Luther King and Jesus. Each group was asked to provide examples to explain any of the comparisons that they may have identified.

The lesson ended with showing the students Martin Luther King’s ‘I have a dream’ speech from August 28th, 1963.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An Introduction to Morality

right or wrong post its

Below is a PowerPoint presentation I made for teaching Third Year students about Morality. It outlines the main definitions associated with morality, the different kinds of moral behaviour, steps towards making a moral decision and identifies where our morality comes from. It also includes a number scenarios which students can discuss and decide what they would do in each situation. This powerpoint would be suitable for senior Religious Education classes also.

 

 

morality simpsons

The Feast of the Epiphany and Three Kings Day

 

kings and camels

The Feast of the Epiphany which celebrates the revelation of Jesus Christ to man takes place on the 6th of January. The feast is a celebration of how Jesus Christ revealed himself in three ways; as child to the Magi, at His baptism, and at His first miracle at the wedding in Cana. The Feast of the Epiphany marks the end of the Twelve Days of Christmas, therefore it is also referred to as the ‘Twelfth Night’. It is also a celebration in honour of the Three Wise Men (Magi) who came to visit Jesus Christ when he was born. ‘Three Kings Day’ is celebrated in Latin America, Spain, and in Hispanic communities of the United States. There is a tradition carried out by many families which sees the children receiving gifts under their bed upon waking up from their Twelfth Night slumber. This tradition represents the gifts Jesus Christ received from the Magi; gold, frankincense and myrrh. The children write letters to the Magi in the days leading up until January 6th and leave their shoes as well as some hay for the camels which the Magi are travelling on outside their door before going to sleep. In some European countries especially Italy, the day of the Feast of the Epiphany is seen to be of greater importance than Christmas Day with many celebratory events taken place amongst families and communities.

Below is a video which outlines what the Gospel of Matthew tells us about the Epiphany. It is a very useful resource for the classroom. The Gospel of Matthew tells us that the birth of Jesus Christ was to change the world for all people.

 

Below is a video which shows the celebration of Three Kings Day in Mexico. This is an excellent video to show students how different cultures celebrate the traditions that we share. 

 

The first celebration of Three Kings Day at Disneyland.

 

Celebration of the Epiphany and Three Kings Day 2014 around the World. This is an excellent resource for all you need to know about the significance of the 6th January and the traditions which take place around the world.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/01/05/epiphany-2014_n_4545013.html?ir=Religion

 

Photos of the celebration of Three Kings Day 

 

three kings day three kings day 1 three kings day 2 kings in boat king cake

The Journey of the Magi – T.S Eliot
‘A cold coming we had of it,
Just the worst time of the year
For a journey, and such a long journey:
The ways deep and the weather sharp,
The very dead of winter.’
And the camels galled, sorefooted, refractory,
Lying down in the melting snow.
There were times we regretted
The summer palaces on slopes, the terraces,
And the silken girls bringing sherbet.
Then the camel men cursing and grumbling
and running away, and wanting their liquor and women,
And the night-fires going out, and the lack of shelters,
And the cities hostile and the towns unfriendly
And the villages dirty and charging high prices:
A hard time we had of it.
At the end we preferred to travel all night,
Sleeping in snatches,
With the voices singing in our ears, saying
That this was all folly.

Then at dawn we came down to a temperate valley,
Wet, below the snow line, smelling of vegetation;
With a running stream and a water-mill beating the darkness,
And three trees on the low sky,
And an old white horse galloped away in the meadow.
Then we came to a tavern with vine-leaves over the lintel,
Six hands at an open door dicing for pieces of silver,
And feet kiking the empty wine-skins.
But there was no information, and so we continued
And arriving at evening, not a moment too soon
Finding the place; it was (you might say) satisfactory.

All this was a long time ago, I remember,
And I would do it again, but set down
This set down
This: were we led all that way for
Birth or Death? There was a Birth, certainly
We had evidence and no doubt. I had seen birth and death,
But had thought they were different; this Birth was
Hard and bitter agony for us, like Death, our death.
We returned to our places, these Kingdoms,
But no longer at ease here, in the old dispensation,
With an alien people clutching their gods.
I should be glad of another death.

 

kings and gifts

 

New Year, New Term, New Start

 

 

2014

back to school

HAPPY NEW YEAR!! 🙂

For many, today marks the return to work and school after the Christmas holidays.  This will be a struggle for a lot of people including ourselves to get back into our daily routines and leave behind the laid-back nature of the festive season in favour of assignments, deadlines and the next section of the school curriculum.  As well as adjusting to our work-mode mindset we are trying to focus on all the new years resolutions we have promised ourselves that we would make, strive towards and accomplish in 2014. ‘This year will be MY year.” Sound familiar anyone?! 😉

I have found a number of prayers and bible verses to motivate ourselves and any students we are currently teaching to make the most of the opportunities a new year can bring. Take a few minutes out of your daily routine to reflect upon these and to allow them to calm your mind for the long road of 2014 which lies ahead. Within the classroom, take a few minutes either at the beginning or at the end of the lesson to reflect upon one particular prayer or a couple of verses each day during the month of January to help students revive their motivation, interest in and passion for learning. 🙂

prayer

New Year’s Prayer

Lord, this year I want to change,
and I’ve said that in the past.
but now my prayer is different
’cause I understand at last.

I wanted my own way before,
I ignored your loving plans.
But now I’m putting everything
into your nail-scarred hands.

I promise to obey you
out of gratitude and love.
I won’t be giving orders
to my Father up above.

I finally realize the truth
and so I’ve changed my prayer.
The safest place for me to be
is in your gentle care.

Please be my shepherd, Jesus,
that’s all I ask of you.
In good times and in bad this year,
Take my hand and lead me through.

Amen.

 

Just One Request

Dear Master for this coming year
Just one request I bring:
I do not pray for happiness,
Or any earthly thing—
I do not ask to understand
The way Thou leadest me,
But this I ask: Teach me to do
The thing that pleaseth Thee.

I want to know Thy guiding voice,
To walk with Thee each day.
Dear Master make me swift to hear
And ready to obey.
And thus the year I now begin
A happy year will be—
If I am seeking just to do
The thing that pleaseth Thee.

–Unknown Author

 

Another Year Is Dawning

Another year is dawning,
Dear Master, let it be,
In working, or in waiting,
Another year with Thee.

Another year of mercies,
Of faithfulness and grace;
Another year of gladness
In the shining of Thy face.

Another year of progress,
Another year of praise,
Another year of proving
Thy presence all the days.

Another year of service,
Of witness of Thy love,
Another year of training
For holier work above.

Another year is dawning,
Dear Master, let it be
On earth, or else in heaven
Another year for Thee.

–Francis Ridley Havergal (1874)

The New Year

Dear Lord, as this new year is born
I give it to Thy hand,
Content to walk by faith what paths
I cannot understand.

Whatever coming days may bring
Of bitter loss, or gain,
Or every crown of happiness;
Should sorrow come, or pain,

Or, Lord, if all unknown to me
Thine angel hovers near
To bear me to that farther shore
Before another year,

It matters not—my hand in Thine,
Thy light upon my face,
Thy boundless strength when I am weak,
Thy love and saving grace!

I only ask, loose not my hand,
Grip fast my soul, and be
My guiding light upon the path
Till, blind no more, I see!

–Martha Snell Nicholson

 

This prayer from Billy Graham, written for “The Saturday Evening Post” in 2008, is just as relevant this year:

Our Father and our God, as we stand at the beginning of this new year we confess our need of Your presence and Your guidance as we face the future.

We each have our hopes and expectations for the year that is ahead of us—but You alone know what it holds for us, and only You can give us the strength and the wisdom we will need to meet its challenges. So help us to humbly put our hands into Your hand, and to trust You and to seek Your will for our lives during this coming year.

In the midst of life’s uncertainties in the days ahead, assure us of the certainty of Your unchanging love.

In the midst of life’s inevitable disappointments and heartaches, help us to turn to You for the stability and comfort we will need.

In the midst of life’s temptations and the pull of our stubborn self-will, help us not to lose our way but to have the courage to do what is right in Your sight, regardless of the cost.

And in the midst of our daily preoccupations and pursuits, open our eyes to the sorrows and injustices of our hurting world, and help us to respond with compassion and sacrifice to those who are friendless and in need. May our constant prayer be that of the ancient Psalmist: “Teach me, O Lord, to follow your decrees; then I will keep them to the end” (Psalm 119:33).

We pray for our nation and its leaders during these difficult times, and for all those who are seeking to bring peace and justice to our dangerous and troubled world. We pray especially for Your protection on all those who serve in our armed forces, and we thank You for their commitment to defend our freedoms, even at the cost of their own lives. Be with their families also, and assure them of Your love and concern for them.

Bring our divided nation together, and give us a greater vision of what You would have us to be. Your Word reminds us that “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord” (Psalm 33:12).

As we look back over this past year we thank You for Your goodness to us—far beyond what we have deserved. May we never presume on Your past goodness or forget all Your mercies to us, but may they instead lead us to repentance, and to a new commitment to make You the foundation and center of our lives this year.

And so, our Father, we thank You for the promise and hope of this new year, and we look forward to it with expectancy and faith. This I ask in the name of our Lord and Savior, who by His death and resurrection has given us hope both for this world and the world to come.

Amen

 

reflection

 

Jeremiah 29:11

“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”

 

Psalm 94:19

“When doubts filled my mind, your comfort gave me renewed hope and cheer.”

 

Romans 8:28
“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.”

 

Philippians 3:13-14

 
“No, dear brothers and sisters, I am still not all I should be, but I am focusing all my energies on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I strain to reach the end of the race and receive the prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us up to heaven.”

 

2 Thessalonians 2:16–17
“Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal comfort and a wonderful hope, comfort you and strengthen you in every good thing you do and say.”

 

 

make things happen

virtual-school-dream-lrg

 

Nativity of Jesus activities for Junior Cycle Religious Education

 

cartoon nativity

 

The below tasks would be useful in a junior cycle Religious Education classroom and appear most suited to First and Second Year students as helpful ways for them to learn about and understand the story of the birth of Jesus Christ and the meaning this brings to Christmas Day.

 

TASK 1

Copy and complete these sentences into your book, filling in the missing words. The words you might need are written below.

At Christmas time, Christians celebrate the birth of baby _______. Jesus was born in a town called _____________. He was born in a __________ because there was no room in the inn.

His parents ______ and ________ had to travel a long way before Jesus was born so they could register in Bethlehem.

Joseph      Jesus        Bethlehem         Stable      Mary

TASK 2

When Jesus was born, the shepherds were out on the hillside looking after their sheep. Suddenly hundreds of angels appeared to them telling them that Jesus had been born. 

Imagine that you are one of the shepherds who saw the angels appear. Write a letter to your friend telling them what you saw and what happened when you went to see the baby Jesus.

How did you feel? Were you afraid? Excited? Happy? Amazed?

 

TASK 3
Answer these questions in full sentences

1. Why did Mary and Joseph have to travel all the way to Bethlehem?

2. What kind of dangers do you think Mary and Joseph might have faced on their journey through the desert on the donkey?

3. How do you think Mary felt when she was told she had to have her baby in a stable with the animals?

4. How do you think the three Wise Men felt after their long journey when they finally found the baby Jesus?

 

TASK 4

Draw 4-6 boxes in your book and create a picture timeline of the events leading up to Jesus’ birth. You could include Mary and Joseph’s journey to Bethlehem, the visit of the three wise men, Jesus is born and the angels appearing to the shepherds.

 

iMOM Nativity Story Cards 1

 

Merry Christmas 🙂

 

Because I am a Girl Campaign

 

girls campaign

 

http://plan-international.org/girls/index.php?lang=en

As I have decided to focus my Thesis on women in leadership roles in education I have been researching a lot online about the subject of gender and education, female education and women in education. It was through this research this morning that I came across the website for Plan International’s ‘Because I am a Girl’ Campaign and I felt it was necessary to share what this campaign is about. The campaign began on the 11th October 2012, coinciding with the first International Day of the Girl Child. I think this issue would be an excellent topic to bring into the Religious Education classroom. It is an issue which is relevant in the world today and it will give the students the opportunity to realise how lucky they are to be sitting at their desk soaking in the education they are both entitled to and allowed to receive.

Some facts to consider:

  • 1 in 5 girls worldwide is denied an education.
  • Forced into arrange marriages at a very young age.
  • Experience severe violence and abuse.

 

According to the website this campaign by Plan International seeks a number of changes in order to improve the lives of girls around the world.

  • girls’ education to be prioritised by world leaders
  • girls’ completion of a quality secondary education to be a major focus of international action
  • funding for girls education to be increased
  • an end to child marriage
  • an end to gender-based violence in and around schools
  • girls and boys to participate in decision making and inspire those with power to take action

http://plan-international.org/girls/plans-goals.php?lang=en

Plan International’s goals are not solely about changes but also numbers.

  • Reaching 4 million girls directly.
  • Reaching 40 million girls and boys through improving gender equality.
  • Reaching 400 million girls through policy change.

http://plan-international.org/girls/plans-goals.php?lang=en

 

girl health plan

 

girls_education_infographic

Some statistics to think about

1in5girls-chalkboard-1-w581

9years-3-w581

numbers-1-extra-year-w581-1-w581 (1)

Useful video clips for the classroom

 

Useful Links

 http://plan-international.org/girls/index.php?lang=en

http://plan-international.org/girls/plans-goals.php?lang=en

http://plan-international.org/girls/why-girls.php?lang=en

http://plan-international.org/girls/about-the-campaign/our-work.php?lang=en

http://plan-international.org/girls/stories-and-videos/all-videos.php?lang=en

http://plan-international.org/girls/day-of-the-girl.php?lang=en

http://www.theguardian.com/teacher-network/teacher-blog/2013/oct/10/five-ways-teach-girls-rights