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Greetings from Nebraska!

刊登日期: 2013.09.15
作者: Fr. Thomas Au 區耀邦神父  

Last I wrote I was in Plattsmouth, Nebraska. Since then, I have been reassigned by my bishop to teach in our Diocesan Catholic high school called Bishop Neumann High School in Wahoo, Nebraska and to be pastor of St. Mary Church in Ashland and St. Joseph Church in Greenwood, both smaller parishes than Plattsmouth. I will teach 11th grade religion with forty-eight students in two sections. Unlike Hong Kong, we begin our school year in the middle of August, and finish at the end of May. 

Our curriculum for 11th grade religion is on the Catholic moral teachings, which include: 

What does it mean to be a moral person? 

What is “Conscience” and how to form a right conscience? 

Various moral principles, particularly those that are erroneous, e.g. moral relativism, proportionalism, consequentialism and others. (big words, simple concepts) 

The Ten Commandments, in detail (takes about three months). 

How to apply the Ten Commandments in the area of Social Justice, including issues like human rights, ecology, abortion, same sex unions and other issues we currently face in our society. 

The relationship between keeping the Ten Commandments and living the Beatitudes. 

How prayer helps us to have a relationship with God in order to live morally. 

 

As you can see, we take the subject much more seriously than most schools treat it. I have taught this subject in our Catholic schools for many years. I find it very exciting to see students in the upper grades capable and interested in this area. From time to time I will share some of the topics with you, since I have to prepare to teach them for my classes anyway. As I mentioned last June, I welcome any questions from you. 

This year I also have two exchange students, one from Hungary and the other from Czechoslovakia. It is quite an experience for students such as these because, for the first time, they have to attend class with English as their only language environment. I try to help them with their “feelings” of being confused and lost. I often share with them my struggles when I first came to the United States as a university student. Many of you are thinking about going abroad for your university education. Just having an English background is very helpful. But it is still difficult to learn to listen to different accents and usage of words and terms, as you experience when reading my articles. That is part of the reason why I was asked to write this column. It is also difficult to try to express oneself in English in the middle of a conversation, having to think in one language and try to find the adequate word in English to express that idea. 

The reality is that it is similar to our experiences in life. We might have learned a subject very well in class. It is altogether a different issue trying to explain what you are doing. Try it this way: Explain to a student struggling with fractions what it means to find the common denominator. Or, why the word “wound” could have two different meanings. 

This is also true for religious matters. Sometimes, we have learned “what” the Church believes, but have a very difficult time explaining “how” and “why” the Church teaches the belief. Most of the time, you may think that because you have difficulties in the latter area, you are having difficulties with your faith. It is not so. You just need to keep at it and, like fractions, it will “dawn” on you. 

 

Have a great school year. 

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