Enjoy this lesson about Pope John Paul II and World Youth Day, from Finding God, Grade 8. © Loyola Press.
Download a PDF of the student pages.
The students will be able to
identify major events in the life of Pope John Paul II.
define Jubilee Year.
Jubilee Year—a holy year in which the pope calls people to witness to their faith in specific ways. Pope John Paul II announced that 1985 was a Jubilee Year.
Plant seeds, paper cups, and soil
Bookmark in the Bible at Isaiah 61:1-2
Information about World Youth Day, including a theme song. If possible, invite past attendees to share their stories.
A list of people who have recently been canonized (optional)
Before You Begin
Before the session, gather planting materials and materials needed for easy clean-up, such as garbage bags and newspaper for table coverings.
Distribute plant seeds, paper cups, and soil. Have young people plant the seeds, then ask: What do these seeds need to become plants? (sunlight, water, care) Say: Through our words and actions, we cooperate with God in planting the seeds of his love in the hearts of the people with whom we interact. The Holy Spirit helps nurture these seeds. As disciples, we help others grow in their relationship with God. Encourage young people to take their seeds home and nurture them.
If you work with young people who have attention differences, invite them to help you distribute the materials that are part of the Begin activity.
Invite volunteers to read aloud the article titled Proclaiming Christ Anew and the first two paragraphs. Ask: What contemporary circumstances prevent people from being open to hearing Christ’s message? (Possible answer: a culture rooted in materialism)
Invite volunteers to read aloud the section Pope John Paul II. Point out that through his attendance at the Second Vatican Council, Pope John Paul II had a solid understanding of the issues that the modern Church faced. Say: Pope John Paul II was known for his extensive travel schedule. He went all over the world to connect with Catholics from various countries and cultures. By doing so, he reminded us that the pope is both the Bishop of Rome and the shepherd of the People of God all over the world. Ask: For what else was he known? (as a peacemaker and as someone who lived a life of openness and charity)
Our Catholic Character
Read aloud the feature titled Our Catholic Character. Explain that for a miracle to be “scientifically proven” means that medical and scientific experts must verify that the act is not explainable by science. Remind young people that we can always turn to the members of the Communion of Saints for examples of Christian living.
Invite volunteers to read aloud the section World Youth Day. Draw young people’s attention to the term Jubilee Year. Point out that the celebratory nature of Jubilee Years is rooted in Scripture. Read aloud Isaiah 61:1–2. Then say: The last Jubilee Year was in 2000. Explain that the Church marked this occasion in various ways, such as through prayer and service. Say: To remind us that social justice is an important component of our lives as Catholics, the Church also participated in an initiative asking governments to forgive the debts of developing nations.
Share with young people information about the upcoming World Youth Day. If possible, play the theme song for the event and invite attendees from recent World Youth Days to share their stories about their experiences. Say: Pope John Paul II had a great respect for young people. He believed that your joy and enthusiasm reflects the creative joy of God. Draw young people’s attention to the first line of the pope’s message from 1993. Ask: How does it make you feel to hear the pope say that “the liberating message of the Gospel of life” is in your hands? (Answers will vary.)
Past Meets Present
Read aloud the feature titled Past Meets Present. Say: Saint John Vianney was a remarkable priest. People came from all over the world to seek his counsel. It is said that he heard confessions for 16 hours a day but never lost patience.
Give young people a moment to call to mind the spirit-led people in their lives who model Christian discipleship. Say: Take a moment to pray a prayer of thanks to God for the example these people provide us. After giving young people time to pray, say: I encourage you to thank these people for living such faith-filled lives.
Take It Home: Saintly Examples
Have young people research the life of someone who has recently been named a saint. You may wish to provide a list of people who have recently been canonized. Ask young people to write a two-paragraph biography about the person, including information about how he or she served God, the miracles that have been attributed to the person, and how young people can follow the new saint’s example of discipleship. Invite young people to share their reports with their friends and family and with the parish ministry.
Adventures in Faith: Host a Rally
Obtain from your catechetical leader information about any regional or diocesan gatherings for adolescents. After reviewing the information with young people, work with your catechetical leader to have young people organize and sponsor a mini youth rally for children in your catechetical program. The rally might include activities such as presentations, games, songs, and service projects.