How to Teach Catholic Social Teaching

The presenter should read “Making the Most of Adult Learning.”

Resources Needed:

  1. Video: In the Footsteps of Jesus, USCCB—call 800-235-8722 or visit
  2. Book: Leaders Guide to Sharing Catholic Social Teaching—order from—(Copies of pages 28 and 31–34 for each participant)
  3. Article: For historical context of huge liturgical and language changes that are apparent in CST. Excerpt the last section of the article, “The Style of Vatican II: The ‘How’ of Church Changed During the Council?” By O’Malley, W. John. America, February 24, 2003. (Copies for each person.)
  4. Ice Breakers sheet
  5. What’s Stopping You? (Put in packet to hand out or put on overhead or newsprint)
  6. CST Resources and Examination of Conscience (Copies for each person to leave on sign-up table or weave into opening prayer)
  7. Bibles for each small group

Catholic Social Teaching

(2-hour workshop)

Use Leader’s Guide to Sharing Catholic Social Teaching (pages 8–10)

  1. In preparation for the workshop, read and follow Preparation (page 8), read through “Avoiding Ideological Conflicts” (pages 3–4). To get the right frame of mind, absorb “Making the Most of Adult Learning” sheet. Prepare on newsprint, overhead or on a banner that reads, “Catholic Social Teaching is a VISION of how to see the world as it should be, a FRAMEWORK for making life decisions, and a set of GUIDING PRINCIPLES that can be used to build a loving family, neighborhood, country and world.” (“Faith in Action: A Catechesis for Justice” from the Archdiocese of Anchorage Catechetical Conference October 2001.)
  2. At the beginning of the workshop, introduce yourself and welcome the participants. Create a summary for yourself of the Overview on page 5 and let them know about this workshop. Next, list the learning objectives taken from page 2, which in this case is numbers 1–3. Last, use an opening prayer of your choice or you may use the prayer on pages 27–28. (8 minutes)
  3. Then have everyone introduce themselves and what they do and/or how they are involved in the church or choose one of the Ice Breakers or some other kind of opener. (20 minutes)
  4. Introduce the video, “In the Footsteps of Jesus.” Use the guide inside the video box called “Before the video” to find out how to introduce the video. View the video. (28 minutes).
  5. Debrief the video. Use questins from the discussion guide inside the video box or questions prepared here. (8 minutes)
  6. Explore themes of CRS. Instructions on how to do that are on page 9. Divide the participants into small groups of 3-4 people. Assign each group one or two themes. Ask each group to use their themes to make a list of today’s issues for which this theme has implications. They should not try to solve the identified social problem; instead, the goal is to simply identify some of the social implications of the theme. Each group will need someone to read and someone to take notes and then report back to the larger group. The group is to reach consensus on 3–5 of today’s social issues for which the theme has implications. The themes themselves can be found on page 28. Make enough photocopies for each person. (20 minutes)
  7. Report back from smaller groups. Write group responses on newsprint or overhead projector. (10 minutes)
  8. Break (10 minutes)
  9. Quotes from scripture and Church Documents. (20 minutes) See page 10 for instructions. Make enough copies of “Official Cburch Documents” (pages 31–32) and “Scriptural Foundations of CST” (pages 33-34) to give to each person. Divide people into the same groups from earlier. Ask each group to focus on the same themes from the earlier discussion. Each group will need someone to read the quote and someone to take notes and then report back to the larger group. Ask them to reach each quotation (Church Documents quotations and Biblical quotations) and discuss the following questions
    1. In what ways does this teaching affirm aspects of society’s laws, economic practices, and values? In what ways does this teaching challenge aspects of society’s laws, economic practices, and values?
    2. In what ways does the scripture passage affirm or challenge your ideas on this theme?
    3. (If there is time to look at theological criticism) What do you think the author meant in this scriptural passage, given the historical context? (Read the passages before and after to get better context.) Who do you think is the audience? (Jews? Gentiles? Priests? Lawyers? etc.) Why is the author trying to make this point—what are the author’s motives? What is the literary context, for example, is it poetry? Narrative (story)? Where is the quote placed in relation to the chapter? the book?
  10. Report back from small groups (15 minutes)
  11. Article excerpt from America. Have people read the excerpted article and give them the reflection questions to work on alone. After some time, do a general “feel” of the group and ask the reflection questions. This is not to write down, just to get some discussion and open ideas up for people to share what they think. (5 minutes)
  12. Closing prayer: Read Isaiah 58:3a, 5, 7, 9, 12, 14, pausing after each verse in order for the group to respond, “Let our light break forth light the dawn.” Alternatives to this is the “Prayer for Peace and Justice” on page 27 or your own closing prayer. (3 minutes)