Diocese to implement a single textbook series for religious education

by Mary Hanbury | Director of Catechesis for Diocese of Fargo


All parishes and Catholic Schools throughout the Diocese of Fargo will soon be using the Alive in Christ textbooks for religious education for grades 1-8.

This fall many of our parishes and schools will begin using a new textbook series for grades 1-8 called Alive in Christ by Our Sunday Visitor. The work began three years ago when Bishop Folda asked that a committee to be formed with the intent of recommending a textbook series that would be uniform throughout the Diocese.

The committee worked for almost three years on revising and rewriting standards, which are essentially basic truths about the faith. The standards were the most important factor in reviewing the textbooks. In addition, there were other factors the committee considered, such as reading level, appropriate images that connected with what was being taught, activities that were meaningful but yet did not require a lot of materials and prep time, layout, design and the ease for which a teacher could use the teacher’s manual. Out of six series reviewed the committee recommended Alive in Christ.

One of the bonuses of this new curriculum is its online material. Each grade, both for parishes and schools, has additional resources teachers can use to expand on the lesson or adapt certain activities. For example, almost every chapter has a short video that can be played in the classroom to enhance the lesson. These short clips range from Pope Francis teaching on Advent, to parts of movie clips that help drive home the main point. There is also additional material to adapt the textbook activities so that children with reading or writing disabilities can easily do them as well.

In addition, there is a section of online family resources, which includes some fun family games. Along with the family online resources, the text itself has a tear-out page at the end of each chapter so a student can show their parents what they learned in class that day. Finally, the text incorporates each of the five forms of prayer mentioned in the Catechism – blessing and adoration, petition, intercession and thanksgiving, and praise. Each chapter also begins with a modified form of Lectio Divina as the students begin to learn to pray with scripture and are taught how to discern God’s voice. These are just some of the highlights.

The other text that will be introduced in the fall is The Great Adventure Storybook, A Walk though the Catholic Bible by Emily Cavins, Ascension Press. This new book will be used as a supplement in the 5th and/or 6th grade classroom along with the Alive in Christ text. The Storybook is written in a format that children can comprehend while also having them engage with the actual scripture text.

Bishop Folda has mandated both of these texts for all parishes and schools in the Diocese with full implementation by fall of 2018.

Because there are many facets to the Alive in Christ textbooks, it will be important for catechists to attend a training session on the use of the text. There will be three training sessions with Dr. JoAnn Paradise, Our Sunday Visitor National Catechetical Consultant. For those who cannot make these training sessions, additional training sessions will be offered around the diocese. For those teaching in Catholic schools there will also be opportunities for training either through one of these sessions or by another speaker from Our Sunday Visitor.

Training sessions scheduled:

Catechist in-service with Dr. JoAnn Paradise:

• Monday, Aug. 28 from 5:30-9 p.m. with supper at 6 p.m., Little Flower Parish, Rugby (both parish and school)

• Tuesday, Aug. 29 from 5:30-9 p.m. with supper at 6 p.m., Ramada, Grand Forks

• Wednesday, Aug. 30 from 5:30-8:45 p.m. with supper at 6 p.m., Holiday Inn, Fargo

School teacher in-service with Katy Maier:

• Friday, Aug. 18 at 9 a.m., Trinity School, West Fargo

• Tuesday, Aug. 29 at 1:30 p.m., Grand Forks, TBD

Catechist in-service with Mary Hanbury:

• Wednesday, Sept. 6 from 7-9 p.m., St. Boniface, Lidgerwood

• Wednesday, Sept. 13 from 7-9 p.m., St. Patrick, Crystal

• Wednesday, Sept. 20 from 7-9 p.m., Napoleon