Below are three of my original ‘Videoscribe’ animations. Please feel free to share them with your staff and students. They make great prayer resources to add to your faith formation tool kit as you build a Catholic Ethos in your community.
Salt of the Earth (high school)
Jesus Brings Those on the Outside to the Inside (high school)
Being Strong and Courageous Leaders (primary school)
This article can be used as a teaching resource over 4 lessons.
Project Kindy is my small, grassroots charity which raises funds in
Australia to provide for kindergartens in rural Malawi, Africa. Please see www.projectkindy.com to get acquainted with our work. The kindergartens are initiated and run by
the local communities and overseen and managed by the Canossian Daughters of
Charity. The partnership between the
local village communities, the Canossian Sisters and Project Kindy demonstrates
the Catholic Social Teaching principles of Human Dignity, the Common Good,
Solidarity and Subsidiarity.
“So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” Genesis 1:27
Genesis 1:27 proclaims a very powerful message, that humans are made in
the image and likeness of God. This is
powerful because it bestows immeasurable value onto every single person no
matter who they are, where they are, what they have got or what they have done. It affirms that each person is created for
relationship with God and with other people, just as the Trinity models unity
of one God in three persons.
The human person flourishes when he/she loves and is loved by God and
other people because he/she is created for relationship with God and other
people and one relationship fulfils and strengthens the other. In every area of society we are called to
create environments where each person’s inherent dignity is protected and
upheld and each person is able to flourish into who God intended him/her to
The children’s dignity is honoured in several ways through Project
Kindy. Firstly, the provision of access to
early years education empowers them to develop as a whole person with a special
focus on literacy, numeracy, life skills and social skills. There is much research that confirms kindergarten
experience improves the child’s school readiness which is a key indicator for improved
and sustained success through primary, secondary and tertiary school and as an
employee, leader and active adult citizenship in society. This research also indicates that not only
does the individual have an improved chance to flourish, but so does the local
community and the country at large.
“Giving children a
good start through kindergarten not only counters the worst effects of poverty,
but may also be the most effective means of halting cross-generational poverty.
When equity in access to early education and learning is improved, greater
economic benefits accrue to individuals themselves and collectively to
society.” United Nations
Children’s Fund: New York, Updated in April 2012
Another way we honour the dignity of the children and the village
communities is in the way we present them to donors and supporters on our Project
Kindy website, in our emails, social media and public speaking presentations. The photos and videos we use of the children,
teachers, village leaders and mothers are natural, strengths-focused and elicit
a feeling of equality and respect. The
stories we tell emphasise their noble efforts to work, learn and flourish amongst
such difficult circumstances of pervasive poverty and that only luck of birth
separates us from them. We invite people
to stand in their shoes and imagine that if we were born there, we might hope
to be the same leaders, teachers and mothers trying to improve the standard of
living for our children.
Our support is offered to each of the children in each of the
kindergartens regardless of their family background, religion, family finances or
location. They each have immeasurable
worth in our eyes due to being children of God. Some are Christian, some are
Muslim and some are not religiously affiliated. Some are orphans living with
extended family and some are children still living with one or two of their parents. We love them all.
Reflection and Discussion Questions:
Why is the idea that every person is created by a loving God with inherent dignity is sometimes so challenging to accept?
If it is true that every person has God-given worth and love, what are the consequences for society?
Are there times in my life when I struggle to see the image of God in other people? When? How could I reframe how I see those people and improve my response to challenging situations?
“In everything do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets.” Matthew 7:12
The common good is the goal of creating social conditions where people
are able to develop more fully and flourish more easily. The right to the common use of the earth’s
resources is fundamental to this goal. God
gives the earth and her resources to all of humankind and He does not exclude
or favour any person. It is imperative
that societies with more resources share them with societies that are in
need. The single-minded materialistic
pursuit of collecting goods while our neighbours suffer stifles the flourishing
of both the poor and the wealthy. We
were made to be in relationship with each other and our destinies are entwined
so that we are liberated only when we are ALL liberated.
The national annual Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita of Australia
is around $50 000 whereas it is less than $500 in Malawi. By luck of birth, we Australians have access
to a great deal of resources and according to Catholic Social Teaching we must work
to share these resources with other countries that are struggling to
flourish. Project Kindy strives for the
common good and aims to contribute to the common access to the earth’s
resources mainly through helping to provide short term help in the form of food
security as well as long term empowerment through early years education. Our donors share their resources with the
kindergarten communities and in doing so they contribute to sharing the
excesses of the Australian society with the poverty-stricken rural communities
In Malawi, people live a subsistence lifestyle, where they are reliant
on the land and the weather for the small amount of food they grow for
themselves and struggle to make an income. In 2016, the United
Nations World Food Programme declared Malawi, Africa, a “Level 3”
which is their highest level of emergency, identifying that 6.5 million (just
over a third of the population of 18 million) Malawians needed immediate
food aid. The families Project Kindy supports only harvest their
food once each year, roughly from April to July. For two thirds of the year,
they cannot harvest anymore crops or access new food for their family. If their
one harvest is bad, they are in very real danger of food crisis.
Project Kindy funds daily
lunch of ‘nsima’ (ground up corn or rice kernels cooked in water over a
campfire) for the 700 children, Monday to Friday, for the 9 months of the year
that they attend kindergarten. In Malawi, the people eat ‘nsima’ for breakfast, lunch
and dinner (or less frequently if they are running low in supplies). The Sisters purchase 400 x 50kg bags of rice
and corn kernels and store them in sheds for the year. They mill the kernels each Monday morning and
give representatives from each of the 11 kindergartens their week’s ration of
flour. This provides a
much-needed safety net for these children and protects them from hunger and
Reflection and Discussion Questions:
What have you observed about the relationship between poor people and rich people across the world?
How does working for the Common Good differ from working for material gain alone?
What would the world look like if each society was built upon the idea of the Common Good?
“And the king will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family,[a] you did it to me.’” Matthew 25:40
Solidarity is an attitude of brotherly and sisterly love for our global
family, believing that God is our common Creator and so we are inextricably
linked through His love. It is the right
way to see our relationships as we receive, the love from our common Heavenly
Father and reflect and channel it to each other which then further strengthens
our relationship with God and so on.
Whenever we reach out to love, support or empower another person we are
expressing our desire to work toward our common good and build unifying, right
relationships with each other. Those of
us who are in well-resourced societies are called to share material support
within the context of a kind of Christian sibling love with those of us who are in under-resourced societies. The most fulfilling life is found through empowering,
serving and loving others, not just accumulation of material goods.
When the Sisters talk to the leaders, teachers, mothers and village
communities on behalf of Project Kindy, they tell them that we are not a big
NGO, but a small number of their brothers and sisters in God across the
seas. Some of the village communities
are Christian, some of them are Muslim and some are of no religion. We extend our love and material support to
all 11 village groups no matter what religion and culture they are. When I was there in 2017 it was profoundly
beautiful for me to see the children contentedly eating their lunches, playing
their games, singing their songs, playing together and smiling away. Not one of them is excluded from our love
because we are all one family in God’s house.
We do not see the children, teachers and mothers as lower in status to us. Instead we see them as equal partners in a mutually beneficial project, working together to achieve a common goal. We benefit in many ways from being connected to them and working together towards their liberty which is tied up with ours. We are wired for this connection and it simply feels good to be serving a noble purpose bigger than ourselves. The direct relationship we enjoy with the communities through the Sisters is truly a source of wholesome nourishment for our own souls. The gift of knowing we are making a real and tangible difference in partnership with the locals is a very special antidote to the frustration many donors have expressed to me as they search for deeper relevance in their day to day lives.
Reflection and Discussion Questions:
Who is left behind in the world?
Who is left behind in our own communities?
How can we show solidarity with them?
“For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. ” 1 Corinthians 12:12
Subsidiarity refers to the rights and responsibilities of different
levels of society and how they should relate to each other for the common
good. The smaller, more local groups
should be empowered to participate fully, have their voices heard and cooperate
in the creation of that which affects their lives. Higher structures such as managing bodies and
governments must do for the smaller groups what they are unable to do for themselves
and to respond to injustices appropriately.
The smallest, most local group in our network is the teachers, parents
and committee of each of the kindergartens.
They are in charge of running the lessons, cooking the lunches and solving
the everyday problems of the kindies.
The Canossian Sisters sit above them as the overall managers and they
educate, mentor and provide support for the local teachers, parents and
children. Project Kindy is further removed from the project and so we listen
carefully to and respect the advice from the Sisters as to the best course of
action for how our funds are to be spent.
Above Project Kindy is the Australian Government who impose strict
standards on the charity and the Canossian Sisters and local staff in Malawi to
ensure their standards are met.
Each kindergarten is managed by a Parents and Community Committee with
the approval from the village chief and each has a representative that meets
with the Sisters and the other representatives regularly. It is an empowering model of partnership and participation
where the local people are truly active agents of change in their own
communities. It was clear during my
visit that the local volunteers are very energized by this opportunity to work
and provide early years education for the little children in their
communities. I cannot overstate the
passion with which they spoke as they addressed the villages gathered for our
visit. I observed their great enthusiasm
as they taught the children songs, literacy and numeracy. This energy is very impressive given the oppressive
nature of poverty in all aspects of life.
At times there are matters that are inappropriate for the local
teachers, mothers, parents and community committee and village chiefs to decide
upon. In these cases, the Sisters manage
the situation. This is clearly seen in
the problem of how to give incentives and thank the volunteer teachers. At first, it was agreed upon between the
Sister and myself that Project Kindy funds would be used to provide a small
wage to the teachers as this is in line with the principle of the dignity of
work. Later, another Sister corrected
this and pointed out that providing monetary wages would create a social
injustice in the community. She said the
village volunteers are not equipped to deal with such an influx of money and it
would cause conflict. The Sisters
resolved the matter with their solution to provide each volunteer teacher with bags
of grain instead of wages. In this
instance, the Sisters had a superior view of the social dynamics of the 11
villages and how introducing wages would cause unnecessary difficulties. Their decision-making enabled the smaller
groups, the teachers, to continue to do their work unhindered and with
appropriate reimbursement for their time and energy.
Reflection and Discussion Questions:
Why is it important that the local people participate in the decision-making and running of the kindergartens?
Why is it important that the Sisters make decisions from their perspective?
How do small community groups in your own area strengthen your society?
The Catholic Social Justice principles of Human Dignity, Common Good, Solidarity and Subsidiarity underpin the work of the local teachers and representatives, the Canossian Daughters of Charity and Project Kindy, whether the individual people involved are aware of that or not. It is a mutually beneficial project which proves the point that true fulfillment comes when we empower others to flourish and in doing so, we too develop more fully. Ultimately, we are blessed to be in relationship with our siblings in a faraway land and we will continue to strive for our common good.
Praying the Rosary is a chance to slow down, appreciate, find your anchor point and become aware of God’s love for you. This is a particularly powerful prayer for individuals, families and communities during hard times. It is one way to build an integrative spirituality, where our soul is energised and well-directed. The Rosary engages our senses and is excellent and engaging classroom prayer activity.
Praying the Rosary helps us move out of pain and shame and redirects us back to our noble mission.
Meditating on Scripture stories invites us to get to know Jesus and His family as aclose friend does.
The pattern allows us to slowly imagine the scenes, find deeper insights and listen to God speak to us.
The prayer experience is a gift from God so you can receive the love of Jesus and Mary for your journey.
The Rosary connects us with the ancient and modern, global church and with every person in God’s family.
Holding the Rosary beads helps your mind to focus and keeps you on track through the ancient prayer.
God promises to forgive, refresh, free, help, defend, reform, instruct, humble and connect to us through the Rosary and any time we come to Him in prayer.
8. The Holy Rosary is a meditation on important storiesin Scriptureand Church tradition that teach the life, death and resurrection of Jesus and the life and love of Mary. The stories are grouped in four sets of themes called “Mysteries”: The Joyful, Sorrowful, Glorious and Luminous Mysteries. Each Mystery of the Rosary has five stories.
The Rosary necklace has a few beads, a cross and a medallion at the starting point which signify the starting prayers. Then there are 5 sets of 10 beads (or decades) representing the five stories from each Mystery and the 10 Hail Mary prayers for each story. You can read the story at the beginning or during the decade of Hail Mary’s.
9. Reading passages of the stories through the decade is called praying the “Scriptural Rosary” and it’s a way to learn the main parts of the New Testament in a prayerful way. The Joyful Mysteries are about the birth and childhood of Jesus. The Luminous Mysteries are about the public life of Jesus as he proclaims the Kingdom of Heaven. The Sorrowful Mysteries are about the arrest, trial and crucifixion of Jesus. The Glorious Mysteries are about the Resurrection of Jesus and what happens after. Pray between one and five decades of the Joyful Mysteries on Mondays and Saturdays, Luminous Mysteries on Thursdays, Sorrowful Mysteries on Tuesdays and Fridays and Glorious Mysteries on Wednesdays and Sundays.
10. Many Saints, Popes and everyday people testify that praying the Rosary has made a big impact in their own life and the life of the others. Read some inspiring quotes below:
“When people love and recite the Rosary they find it makes them better.” – St. Anthony Mary Claret
“There is no problem, no matter how difficult it is, in the personal life of each one of us, of our families…that cannot be solved by the Rosary.” – Sister Lucia dos Santos of Fatima
“The holy Rosary is a powerful weapon. Use it with confidence and you’ll be amazed at the results.”– St. Josemaria Escriva
“The Rosary is the most beautiful and the most rich in graces of all prayers; it is the prayer that touches most the Heart of the Mother of God…and if you wish peace to reign in your homes, recite the family Rosary.” – Pope Saint Pius X
“The Rosary is a prayer that always accompanies me; it is also the prayer of the ordinary people and the saints… it is a prayer from my heart.”– Pope Francis
“The greatest method of praying is to pray the Rosary.” – Saint Francis de Sales
“The Rosary is a prayer both so humble and simple and a theologically rich in Biblical content. I beg you to pray it.” St. John Paul II
This version of praying the Rosary offers a deep spiritual experienceina short timeframe. The Rosary is a gift from God for us to receive. By the grace of God the Rosary is a special time to connect with God and receive His love and peace. Through the contemplation of the Scriptures we get to know Jesus, Mary and the community as a child, friend and disciple. Our senses are engaged by holding the beads and listening to the chanting of our group. Hearts are engaged as we have the opportunity to pray silently or aloud together between each bead.
This modified experience aims to introduce children, staff and families to the Rosary and hopefully lead to them praying it in its entirety. There are several prayers omitted but this in no way is intended to imply they are not important. Please feel free to add the Creed and prayers or pray more than one decade in each sitting. The readings come from the Revised Standard Version (RSV) Bible and are from www.RosaryArmy.com where you can download audio recordings of the Mysteries for free. May your group be truly blessed as you pray together.
All: Our Father, who art in Heaven, hallowed be your Name. Your Kindgom come, your Will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. Amen