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Reflection questions & activities for 'A family that does justice'

Clare Deignan  |  29 November 2016

Read the article 'A family that does justice' and answer the following questions. Then share your answers in pairs, small groups or in a classroom discussion.

1. Tess went to her first protest as a child. Why do you think Tess’s family sees activism as a way to live out their Catholic faith? 

2. Have you ever participated in a protest, signed a petition, raised money or awareness for an important cause? What was your experience?

3. Where would you go or look to find out where to get involved in social justice within the Catholic Church or your community?

4. What is Catholic Social Teaching? What are its seven principles?

Explore Caritas Australia’s Catholic Social Teaching resources here

5. Currently, the government is examining the future of coal in Australia. What may be some of the pros and cons if Australia stops mining for coal? How might this impact communities that depend on coal for jobs? 

6. Write a reflection on how Catholic Social Teaching could be used as a guide, protecting Australian workers rights while caring for the earth.


1. Debate Clean energy and CST: In groups, research the pros and cons of divesting from fossil fuels and investing in sustainable energy. Write down at least 5 points for each side while applying Catholic Social Teaching where it’s possible. Then as a class split in two. One side will represent the argument to continue investing in fossil fuels. The other side to invest in clean energy. 

Teachers should moderate the debate. After the debate students can discuss in what ways the debate expanded their understanding of the positives and negatives of fossil fuels and sustainable energy. 

2. Learn more about Laudato Si’. Read Australian Catholics' interview, ‘Popping the bubble: Waking up to climate change’ with Tess Corkish from our Winter 2016 edition. Discuss why young people especially need to understand the energy debate, climate change and Pope Francis' call for action. Then ask your principal or teacher, if your school can book Tess Corkish to come to your school to lead a Youth Laudato Si’ Workshop. 

You can learn more about Tess' Youth Laudato Si' Workshops here

3. Watch the ABC’s Behind The News story ‘Climate Talks’ and discuss the importance of the Paris Agreement. 

Students can then write a letter to their MP or PM Malcolm Turnbull to encourage Australia to meet their emission targets.  

To go a step further, students can contact President-elect Donald Trump to explain why the USA’s commitments to the Paris Agreement is important to the entire world. 

For more activities, teachers can check out the BNT’s ‘Climate Talks’ resources here

For younger students

Teachers, read or summarise the article ‘A family that does justice’ for your class. Then talk to your students about the Pope’s letter Laudato Si’. Teachers can play the Laudato Si’ animation video for children created by CAFOD (Catholic Agency For Overseas Development). After, have a discussion about what students can do in their own life to live out Laudato Si’ like Tess and her parents. 

1. What’s an issue your family cares about? If you’re not sure, talk it over tonight with your family. Then brainstorm ways your family can get involved and help support a cause (or more) that’s important to all of you.

2. After watching the video on Laudato Si’, in pairs or groups create poster boards raising awareness about the Pope’s call for Catholics to care for the earth. When you’re finished ask your teacher if you can hang your posters around the school to encourage other students to learn more about Laudato Si’.

3. Peak in your school's garbage and recycling bins. (Just with your eyes, make sure you don’t touch.) How well do you think students understand what can be recycled and what should be put in the rubbish bin? Ask your principal or teacher to host a school recycling information refresher to make sure that everything that can be recycled gets into the recycling bin.

If your school isn’t recycling, ask your teacher or principal what you can do to help start a recycling program. If your school is recycling, look if you can begin a compost program.

For further learning

1. What do you think about combining activism and your faith? What issues matter to you? What would you like to get involved with?

2. Name some famous protestors and activists that made big changes to their communities and even countries. How were they perceived by their community? (You may need to research this online or in your school or local library.)

3. Which saints or Catholic leaders have spoken out and worked for social justice issues? How were they viewed by their Catholic community? (Again, you may need to do outside research.)

4. What is a stereotype? What are some of the stereotypes about activists and protesters? Why do you think these stereotypes exist? 

5. When there is a conflict in the news on the local, state or national level, how do you develop an opinion? Which news sources, books and websites do you trust?

a. How do you know what facts to trust and which ones to question? Whom do you go to discuss current events with? Do you only discuss current events with people you agree with or do you try to learn from people you disagree with? Why is it important to consider both sides of an issue?

b. How can we learn by listening to people on both sides of an issue? Why is this especially important as Australia is considering divesting from fossil fuels?


Topic tags: familylife, spiritualityandtheenvironment, catholicsocialteaching, socialjustice–australia

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