MANCHESTER – Eighth-grade students at Assumption School in Manchester recently completed a course developed from teachings of Saint Pope John Paul II.
The course was designed to help answer questions that teens and preteens have about their bodies, sexuality and issues of morality. The school plans to offer it again this school year.
The program, called Theology of the Body for Teens, is based on teachings of Saint Pope John Paul II that were contained in a series of 129 lectures that he gave over a five-year period ending in 1984. The late pope delivered the Scripture-based lectures to explain human sexuality and his vision for love and life to all Christians.
The program at Assumption included a blend of stories, real-life examples, activities, prayers and relevant references to contemporary culture.
A major goal of the program was to challenge students to ask themselves two big questions: “Who am I?” and, “How should I live?” The program also helped answer questions that teens have about their own bodies and their relationships with others.
According to Sister Joan Clare Gludden, a member of the Sisters of Charity of Our Lady Mother of the Church, “It’s all about life, love, relationships, vocations, choices and consequences.”
The 2013-14 academic year was the second year that Sister Joan Clare has taught Theology of the Body topics to her students. She hosted a preview for parents and guardians before introducing students to the material.
Parent responses were overwhelmingly positive about both the material and the approach. Students were also extremely receptive, she said.
“The eighth graders were hooked from the beginning,” said Sister Joan Clare. “They loved it.” She said they embraced the message of the Theology of the Body right from the start.
“Because the program slowly eases into topics related to intimacy, we all felt comfortable sharing thoughts and asking questions. Toward the second half of the program, students began asking questions about things they hear or see in the media. I would answer and let them know what the church teaches and why this is good or bad for our relationships with God and each other,” she said.
“As a religious sister, I have been instructed in the truths of faith and morals, and am prepared to answer their deep questions. We will offer this program to all graduating students,” she added.
Assumption School serves students in prekindergarten through eighth grade. It is located at 27 S. Adams St. Information is available at www.assumptionschoolct.com or from principal Marguerite Ouelette at 860-649-0889.