For those teaching at Catholic schools, Pope Francis’s first ever US visit is certain to be a major event for you and your students. Over the course of less than a week, he’ll speak to politicians, hold meetings, and preside over masses (talk about a whirlwind trip!). Here's the pope's official travel schedule:
September 22-24: Washington, DC
September 24-25: New York, NY
September 26-27: Philadelphia, PA
A great starting point for class discussion is to read the interview Pope Francis provided six months into his papacy to America magazine. Translated with the utmost care, the resulting interview covers everything from his ideas for church reform to his taste in movies. The full interview is now available in book form, entitled A Big Heart Open to God. The book also contains an introduction by the editor-in-chief of America magazine, Matt Malone, as well as a spiritual reflection on the interview by popular Jesuit priest and author James Martin.
Father Martin, like Pope Francis, is a Jesuit. In his book, Jesus, Father Martin brings 21st-century Catholics closer to Jesus by helping them re-experience the stories of the Gospels in a completely new and vivid way. Jesus is a delightfully Jesuit take on a biblical figure often viewed as distant and shrouded in mystery. It makes a wonderful companion to any discussion about Pope Francis, for it does what the pope is trying to do, both in his work and in his US visit—bringing Catholicism to the people in an accessible and modern format.