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 Respect Life Week 2015

 Grades 10-12

For each day, resources include a four-page handout to be distributed in class to each student.  This should serve as the primary resource for your lesson for that day.  Imbedded in the handout are questions for discussion or assessment.  We have provided you with numerous resources for each topic and leave it up to you to choose which are most appropriate for your class and which you prefer to emphasize.  In many cases, there are additional resources that can be used throughout the year to supplement your regular curriculum.

Monday, October 26, 2015
Theme:  One Family Under God
Topic:  Building A Christian Community
Discipline:  Religion/Whole School
Overview:  Students will learn that humans are meant for community, which means loving other people and treating them with respect both in theory and in reality.  What does this look like in our culture?  We explore the topic of immigration through the lens of building a Christian community.
Additional Student/Classroom Resources

Catholic Social Teaching 101: Life and Dignity of the Human Person​ 3.5 minute video from the US Bishops with interviews from Bishop Barron, Jonathan Reyes, and Helen Alvare.  Fantastic introduction to understanding the dignity of every person and deciding what must be our personal response and a global response to injustice.

How to Love God and Love Neighbor​ 3 minute video with Mother Teresa.  What does it mean to love others as God has asked us to do?  Can we actually do this?

20/20 Pope Francis and the People​ 40 minute video of Pope Francis speaking live, remotely, to people in the United States about family, immigration, and poverty issues.

The Black Route of Death from Syria​ article in the Atlantic tells the story of millions of Syrian refugees making their way to countries in the Eurpoean Union in an attempt to escape raging violence in Syria, often to their peril.

Humans of New York photo story of refugees.  Leaving Turkey.  Leaving Iraq​.

Fleeing Syria: A Desperate Migration interactive article from LA Times shows the migration routes of those fleeing Syria and discussed causes of the migration plus in-person stories from migrants.  See "to Greece​", "to Sweden" and "migration map".

Pope Asks All European Parishes to Take in a Refugee Family​ Article teaches about compassion and generosity.  Why is this an important step during the Year of Mercy?  What does welcoming the stranger have to do with mercy?

Refugees Treated to Rock Star Welcome​ 1.5 minute video of Germany welcoming exhausted and hungry refugees, many from the war in Syria.  How does that differ from the reception they have received in other countries?  Or from the way immigrants/refugees are treated in the US?  Why is there a difference?

Children at the Border ​Questions and Answers from the NY Times about the recent surge in unaccompanied minors coming to the US.

2 Immigrants in US Illegally are Named to Huntington Park Commissions LA Times article about two undocumented immigrants appointed to public office.  Good conversation starter for students: On one side, opponents feel that people who are openly in violation of the law cannot be given a post meant to uphold law.  Supporters say that undocumented immigrants make up a large percentage of the community and ought to have a voice in local decision-making.  What do you think of this situation?​

US Citizenship Test Can you pass the test to become a US citizen?

Why are We Still Talking About Racism?  4.5 minute video raising questions about why racism still exists today.  Slightly controversial look at the current situation in our culture.  Good for discussion questions.

Take Action​ Students can send a postcard to their elected representatives calling for immigration reform

5 Practical Ways you Can Help Refugees Trying to Find Safety in Europe​ article provides specific service opportunities that students can do to help.​

CCHD: Helping Immigrant Families Participate Fully in American Life article by Bishop Jaime Soto of Sacramento provides an overview of CCHD actions to help immigrants domestically and offers suggestions on ways to get involved.

Immigration Through the Lens of Faith​ Collected Prayers for Immigrants.  Good for use in prayer service or petitions for Mass.

RESOURCES FOR PARENTS AND TEACHERS:  Pope Francis addresses a group of immigrants while in the US.  He reminds them that they bring many gifts to our nation and tells them "do not be discouraged."

Tuesday, October 27, 2015
Theme:  The Paradox of Choice
Topic:  Why Women Choose Abortion
Discipline: Social Studies/History
Overview:  Today, with ultrasound and high definition images of unborn babies, it is hard to understand how people can still make the choice for abortion. Students will reflect on both sides of the issue and learn what is involved in the decision.

Additional Student/Classroom Resources

​Emily Wilson on Planned Parenthood​ 3.5 minute video with Catholic musician Emily Wilson discussing the recent videos on Planned Parenthood and how to process what we learn in them about the reality of abortion.

The Most Important Way to Respond to Planned Parenthood's Scandal blog post offers a Catholic student's perspective on how to view the videos and how to respond.

The Beauty of Possibility​ 11 minute video of Ryan Bomberger, CEO of the Radiance Foundation, from OneLife LA 2015. He shares his story of being adopted and an adopted father and what it means to be truly pro-life toward every person, even when life is not picture perfect.  It's how we respond to the unexpected that shows our true humanity.

Unspinning the Web of Planned Parenthood​ 40 minute video of Abby Johnson speaking at St Philip Parish in Pasadena.  Abby shares her story of working at Planned Parenthood and the conversion she experienced because of the prayerful witness of pro-lifers.  (Small amount of graphic language describing abortion, but appropriate for older high school students.)

People make difficult decisions in life.  Abby Johnson, former Planned Parenthood clinic manager turned pro-life rockstar, offers a unique perspective on making the difficult decision to continue with a pregnancy.  And, she offers links to practical resources that women can use if they are facing an unexpected pregnancy.​

The Most Important Question About Abortion 5 minute video explores the highly charged topic in a logical way, emphasizing the responsibility to protect innocent human life.

Cultivating Practices of Life in a Throwaway Culture blog post offers a beautiful reflection on the call of Christians to protect life, especially children, throughout history.  What does it mean to really be pro-life?  Are we willing to do what it takes?  Can we overcome our own selfishness and embrace children?

I Think My Mom Should Have Aborted Me​ article describes a conversation with someone who thought his life was useless and abortion would have been a good solution.

Mother and Child are Linked at the Cellular Level​ article discusses recent peer-reviewed findings that mothers retain cells from every child they have conceived, whether that child was born or not.  And, that these cells from their babies actually help to heal and provide immunity to moms.  How does this finding differ from the situation with Planned Parenthood taking body parts from aborted children to attempt to find medical solutions for diseases?

Planned Parenthood and the Loss of Human Dignity​ 8 minute video by newly-ordained LA Bishop Robert Barron discusses how abortion is central to the overall loss of the understanding of human dignity in our culture. This is an intellectual presentation best for older students.

There is no Equivalence article by Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia discusses the foundational principle of the right to life and its place as the primary social justice issue from which all other justice action flows.

5 Things You Can Do to Stop Planned Parenthood​ blog post offers concrete suggestions on how each one of us can stop abortion in the nation's largest provider -- from praying to voting.

Write a Love Letter​ to someone who works in the abortion industry.  Let him or her know that they are loved, and that they don't have to do this work.  So often people who are broken from a past experience don't see that they are loved.  In order to leave a horrific job doing abortions, they need to know someone cares.  Write a letter, and you might help someone leave the abortion industry and find healing!

Pro-life Pregnancy Resources​ can be found easily throughout Southern California.  This website can connect women with 90 pro-life pregnancy centers and clinics through So Cal, make appointments for pregnancy tests and ultrasounds, find post-abortion healing resources, and recommendations for adoption.

RESOURCES FOR TEACHERS AND PARENTS:  Center for Medical Progress spent 30 weeks on an undercover operation inside Planned Parenthood facilities and talking with their top medical personnel.  The results uncovered the manipulation of abortion procedures and sale of fetal body parts for profit.  These videos and the discussion surrounding them has gone viral.  Many of your students will have seen them or heard about them.  Some of the best responses can be found from Abby Johnson.  She helps put the videos and their content into context and gives ideas of what positive actions to take as a result.  Abby Johnson spoke in LA with Archbishop Gomez​.  

 Wednesday, October 28, 2015
Theme:  A Hard Pill
Topic:  Who Deserves to Live?
Discipline: Math
Overview:  The international movement to legalize assisted suicide teaches that some lives are worth living while others have no value.  Students will learn about interdependence and what life-affirming options are available for people at the end of life that are in keeping with human dignity.
 Additional Student/Classroom Resources
Pulling Back the Curtain on Assisted Suicide 3 minute video sharing the economic and social effects of assisted suicde on a community

My Mom Just Died of Brain Cancer. Here's Why She Opposed Assisted Suicide​ article provides a personal look at one family's rally around their mother as she neared death and an analysis of the ramifications of legalized assisted suicide for the state of CA.

Stephanie's Story 5 minute video of Stephanie Packer, an Orange County woman fighting a terminal disease with her husband and four young children.  Stephanie chooses to live, even when difficult, for the sake of her children, rather than opt for assisted suicide.

Death with Dignity 3 minute video of a woman fighting cancer while raising her four young children.  She looks to the end of her life as designed by God without wishing to control her own death.

Man of Steel​ 5 minute video of JJ, a former Marine fighting brain cancer, whose desire to live for his family, even through his disease, is a great inspiration.  JJ Hansen will be a speaker at OneLife LA 2016.

The Scooter 5 minute video about Bill, who suffered from paralyzing depression while fighting his end-stage disease.  Bill sought drugs for assisted suicide, but then his doctor realized that all he needed was increased mobility.  A scooter was all it took to change Bill from looking to die to loving life.

Hope 4.5 minute video of a woman dealing with glioblastoma and the power of a good friend to help her through the troubled times and support her optimism.

John's Story 4 minute video about John Foppe, born without arms, who learned that interdependence can bring joy and peace and great freedom.  

The Death Penalty 30 second video tells that the same drug used for the death penalty is used in assisted suicide.

Maggie's Story 3 minute video about a woman struggling with a terminal disease who leans on what she learned about joy and hope while caring for her own father during his last days.

Jeanette's Story​ 3 minute video of a woman who, 15 years after beating cancer, is so glad that she chose to live and did not take advantage of assisted suicide.

Patients Rights Action Fund fights for the right to life of the sick, the elderly, and the disabled by countering assisted suicide legislation nationwide.

A Hard Pill​ website created by the Archdiocese of Los Angeles to fight assisted suicide in California.  Resources, downloads, and ability to contact legislators makes this the best resource for education and action in CA.

RESOURCES FOR PARENTS AND TEACHERS:  California is fighting assisted suicide this year.  Legislators passed legislation to legalize the practice, and Governor Brown signed it into law.  Archbishop Gomez has been very outspoken against assisted suicide as a matter of social justice.  You can read his statement and column and his message after the legalization​.  Stay up to date at

Thursday, October 29, 2015
Theme:  Why Get Married?
Topic:  Marriage: the Basis of Civilization
Discipline:  English
Overview:  Marriage numbers are decreasing around the world.  And, there is much confusion about the nature of marriage and why people even ought to get married.  Students will explore the benefits of marriage for individuals and society and learn how to have a successful marriage.

The topic of marriage has been highly politicized in our culture in recent years, resulting in a great deal of confusion. Add to that the reality that so many children live in homes with unmarried parents or divorce parents or only one parent, and we are often left believing that it is better to not teach about the reality of marriage rather than offend any student. 

Actually, the opposite is true. By teaching the truth of marriage—a loving, permanent commitment between a man and a woman to each other and any children they may have—we allow students to realize that God did intend something special for us; that we are made for and capable of lasting, authentic love; and that even if they do not have this example at home, they can still aspire to it as adults. Rather than offending, this teaching is liberating.​
Additional Student/Classroom Resources
Sex was Made by God 4 minute video talking about the purpose and nature of sex for men and women in marriage.

Sex is Part of Who You Are 2.5 minute video discussing the union of body and soul and expressing love through both.

Sex is a Natural Desire 4.5 minute video shares the goodness and rightness of sex as part of our human nature as long as it is used appropriately and leads us to live our best lives.

Sex is for Marriage 5 minute video discusses the true meaning of sex in marriage that reflects the love between Christ and his Church in fruitful love.

Sex is Just Okay​ 3 minute video sharing the beautiful plan that God has for sex in marriage.  Sex is a good but it is not the greatest good.

Beloved​ 4 minute video about finding happiness and purpose in marriage.  Marriage lived well is a visible image of God's love for us in the world.

The Economics of Sex​ 10 minute video overview of how the big business behind sex is leading people to make poor choices, give themselves way too little credit, and live unfulfilling lives while they get rich.

Marriage​ 6.5 minute video overview of Catholic teaching on the sacramentality of marriage.  Excellent overview of the sacrament, the teaching on sexual complementarity and communion of persons.  Opportunity for teachers to pre-order viewing guide and student activities from Sophia Institute Press.

A Pure Love Promise​ 4 minute video of Emily and Daniel's wedding day shows the beauty of the sacrament of marriage and the joy of remaining pure until marriage.

How is NFP Different from Contraception blog post from Fr Mike Schmitz answers the question with clarity and in an easy to understand style.  

Oh, Chastity is Hard? Man up! blog post from Matt Fradd on what it takes to live a life of chastity and why it is worth it.

What does Virtue Have to do with Dating? blog post shares specific examples of the role virtue plays in dating, courtship, and finding Mr or Miss Right.

What I wish College Students Knew about Marriage blog post offers practical wisdom to young adults who are thinking about marriage or wondering whether it is even worth it. 

You are Lovable, Flaws and All blog post reminds everyone that we don't have to be perfect to be lovable. In fact, through love we can become the person we are meant to be.

Cohabitation and Commitment: What's the Connection?​ blog post shares perspective on the difference between living together and marriage, and why living together poses difficulties in romantic relationships.

Sexuality, Sacrifice and Love​ 9 minute video from newly-ordained LA Bishop Robert Barron discussing the place of sacrifice in love and living according to the desire for the best for self and others.  Intellectual discussion that is best for older students.

Faithful House: Building Strong Marriages and Families​ article discusses an initiative of Catholic Relief Services to promote and strengthen marriage and family in developing countries to help with socioeconomic relief.

RESOURCES FOR PARENTS AND TEACHERS:  The Archdiocese of Los Angeles is proud to bring The Culture Project to LA for the school-year 2015-1026.  A team of six young adult missionaries are trained in Theology of the Body and Catholic Social Teaching.  They are available to speak to any school or parish group grades 6-12 or college/young adult for free on the issues of sexual integrity, marriage, and the dignity of every person.  All talks are age-appropriate and completely supported by the Office of Life, Justice and Peace and the Department of Catholic Schools.  To book The Culture Project at your school or parish, email  For information on how to keep the conversation about sexual integrity and authentic human love going in your classroom or family, visit the Chastity Project​.

WIth the World Meeting of Families taking place in Philadelphia, and attended by Pope Francis, there are an amazing number of resources to teach about and support marriage and family.  Here are a few:  Parish Packet containing 10 themes for reflection (see p 9-10); Love is our Mission catechesis for purchase; Marriage, Unique for a Reason video series; For Your Marriage website with great resources for marriage preparation and marriage enrichment; Resource Kit that can be ordered for parish or families; The Meaning of Marriage​ video series from the Humanum Conference at the Vatican.

Pope Francis, at the World Meeting of Families, delivered an exuberant, off-the-cuff address in which he stated, "The family is the most beautiful creation of God!"  Text and video.

Friday, October 30, 2015
Theme:  Human Ecology
Topic:  Caring for Our Common Home
Discipline:  Science
Overview:  Pope Francis issued the encyclical Laudato si, the first written specifically on the environment.  Students will receive an overview of main points of Laudato si and understand the connection between honoring the dignity of each person, serving the poor and vulnerable, and protecting our environment.

Additional Student/Classroom Resources

Summary of Laudato Si blog post offers a chapter by chapter summary of the encyclical with links to the actual document.

Care for God's Creation​ 3 minute video explaining why caring for the earth is fundamental to social justice.

Keep Your Promises: the Human Right to Clean Water and Sanitation 3 minute video overview of the lack of access to clean water and sanitation around the world and here in the US. 
The World Walks for Water and Sanitation 2015 toolkit gives examples of how a community can join the fight for clean water and sanitation in communities around the world.

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​The Navajo Water Access Project 3.5 minute video tells the story of one community in the US that lacks clean water.  DigDeep Water is helping them access clean water.  Join the 4 Liter Challenge​ and experience water poverty for yourself. ​

22,000 Days Without Drinking Water​ story and 4 minute video shares the story of a remote Bolivian community's struggle to find water and the impediments, both natural and political, that keep them from thriving.

Water Poverty​ 3 minute animated video provides statistics on water poverty worldwide.

Why Water Matters infographic illustrates how lack of access to clean water is the basis of poverty.

Facts About Water: Statistics on the Water Crisis provides stats on the negative effects of unclean water and lack of sanitation in developing countries.

Dirty Water: So What? lesson plan with activity and assessment for additional learning created by The Water Project.

Living Laudato Si ​article offers practical applications for living care for creation in our families.  Offers discussion questions and service suggestions.

Resources for Holy Hour​ for Care for God's Creation -- components can also be used individually for classroom prayer or Mass petitions.
Catholic Climate Covenant​ offers resources on Laudato si as well as ways individuals and parishes can make a difference to the environment.

RESOURCES FOR PARENTS AND TEACHERS:  During Pope Francis' recent trip to the United States, he delivered an address to the United Nations General Assembly​.  In it, he shared his perspective on care for our common home as an imperative of our faith as good stewards of the earth and protectors of the most vulnerable in our communities.  You can read the entire text of Laudato si.​
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