Electing A New ‘youth group’ Pope!!!
With the sudden news of Pope Benedict XVI stepping down, I decided to have my High School Youth Group hold our own Conclave and elect our new Supreme Pontiff!!!
What you’ll need:
Conclave Voting Cards (I explain below how I made)
Markers or Pens
A Pope Mitre (I made one out of banner paper and glitter)
A chalice or something to put votes in
A whiteboard or chalkboard
Computer or TV/Projector
Youtube access to “The Vatican: Secret Access” or any other documentary segment on Conclave
Time Magazine (February 25, 2013 Issue)
Regular Birthday Candle
Magic “Re-Lighting” Birthday Candle
How I ran the meeting:
I started the meeting by discussing the recent decision by Pope Benedict XVI to resign on the 28th of February. I read a wonderfully written biography page which was published in our Church Bulletin this week on him and his life before he was elected Pope. We discussed possible reasons (health) and the kidz were wonderfully compassionate and agreed that no matter what others think, this was ultimately between him and God. We then began to discuss how we will go about electing a new Pope (for real) and that how living in these media driven times, we are lucky in that we get to see and know much more than generations past when it comes to the process of conclave.
I then showed them a ten minute segment (on Conclave) which is a small part of a History Channel Documentary called “The Vatican: Secret Access”. It aired last week and most likely will air again multiple times in the next month. I was able to find it on YouTube and easily fast foward to 1 hour 2 minutes in. This is where the ten minute Conclave section basically begins. (It is a 90 minute documentary in it’s full length covering lots of topics regarding The Vatican)
DURING THE TEN MINUTE CONCLAVE SEGMENT- You will see an overview of Pope John Paul II’s last days, final public appearance, pieces of his funeral, and then it moves on to Conclave. WATCH CLOSELY- I was able to spot and point out to the kidz a brief shot of the Cardinals walking into Conclave and you see Joseph Ratzinger (who would be elected Pope in the next hours) walking into the Conclave!!! It takes you through the process. Explains what the cards say (and the english translation of them), how they go about it exactly, and explains that 2/3’s or 2/3’s + 1 will result in a new Pope elected. It is not too long or drawn out and is very easy to follow. (I HIGHLY RECOMMEND SHOWING THIS TEN MINUTE SEGMENT….EASIER TO EXPLAIN TO THE KIDZ ONCE THEY HAVE SEEN THIS). It also goes through what happens once a Pope has been elected and even details the problems they have had in recent years with the smoke/stove, etc.
Once we finished watching this, I had the kidz come up with what qualities they felt were necessary for a Pope (specifically our next Pope) to possess. I had one kid write the qualities on the board while everyone helped come up with them. The qualities my kidz came up with were: Good Health, Good Leadership, Future Plan/Visionary, Good Speaker, Down to Earth, Responsible, Compassionate, Educated, Organized, Confident, Follow Through, Innovative, Passionate, Media Savvy (twitter, facebook, internet savvy, etc.), Loyal, Reverent, Traditional, & Involved.
Once we finished our list of qualities, I read to them pieces of an article which was published in the Feb. 25th issue of Time Magazine. It also describes the ‘Papabili’ which are the 7 men who are speculated to be the most likely to be elected our next Pope.
I then told the kidz that we were now the ‘Youth Group College of Cardinals’ and would open up nominations for our own ‘Papabili’ based on the qualities we listed on the board. Once we had our nominations set (ironically, they nominated 7 and stopped there…I hadn’t planned on that) I handed out election cards and markers.
Printed on each card (which I simply printed out in a word document on regular paper) was the Papal Seal and EXACTLY what is written on the REAL CONCLAVE Election Cards.
Eligo in Summun Pontificem LATIN = I Elect as Supreme Pontiff ENGLISH
I instructed them to disguise their handwriting (as explained in the documentary) and had them walk up to cast their vote (which I used a Chalice to collect) individually.
INSTEAD OF USING SMOKE (which would have set our church’s fire alarm off) I came up with a unique idea to reveal whether we had a new Pope, or we would need to have another round of voting.
Once the votes were counted I told the kidz that a candle would be lit. One of the cardinals (youth group kidz) would be selected to blow the candle out. If the candle remained dark, there was no new Pope and a new round of voting would start. If the candle was blown out and re-lit itself, it was truly The Holy Spirit letting us know that we had a new Pope. I lit the candle in my office so the kidz would not know which candle it was since the ‘magic relighting candles’ spark a bit when they are first lit. I did make sure that the magic candles were exactly the same color as the regular birthday ones so they could not tell the difference until it was blown out and we waited to see if it would re-light.
Once we saw that the candle remained dark after being blown out, we repeated the voting process. We went through 3 rounds until we had our new youth group Pope. We almost had a Popess as she was only one vote shy!
Blowing out the candle
The candle Re-Lights iteself! We have a new Pope!
Once we had a new Pope, I had the two finalists (after each round of voting we only moved the front runners onto the next round for voting) sit with their eyes closed to add a little drama. We then crowned our new Pope!!!
Surprised and humbled to be crowned with his Mitre!
Once crowned, I asked our new Pontiff, “By which name will you be called?” (Which is exactly they way it is described in the ten minute documentary segment along with the reasons why a Pope selects a new name). Michael decided that he would be the first Pope since the 15th Century to keep his own name and he gave us specific reasons why.
Finally, I asked our newely elected Pope Michael I of St. EAS (St. EAS is our church) to give the final blessing at the end of prayer intentions that night, which he gladly accepted.
HOW IT WENT
Honestly, the kidz loved it. It was educational, yet remained fun and we spoke in great length about how exciting it would be in the upcoming few weeks to witness this amazing process FOR REAL via tv & internet. Of course, our youth group Pope does not hold any power or decision making over the rest of the group, it was only a learning experience, discussion, and activity for that one night. We did offer prayers during prayer intentions for Pope Benedict XVI and for the Cardinals and our future Pope and we will continue to do so in the upcoming weeks. I’m sure there are several other things you could add to your group’s night should you choose to use this idea. Originally, I thought I would get an altar boy’s vestment and really ‘go all out’ but in the end, just realized I would have run out of time. I had also planned to make the cards a bit more detailed, but my computer had ‘other ideas’ that day and wasn’t cooperating.
Should you choose to use/share this idea, PLEASE let me know how it goes!!!