Pope Francis & The Youth Group
As I type this, Pope Francis should be in route to or just arriving here in the U.S. While many are headed to the NorthEast to see him at one of his three stops, there are millions of us who will rely on news coverage to hear his messages and follow his daily happenings. I knew about two months ago that I wanted to do a youth group night focused on Pope Francis and his trip to our country, I knew I would plan it for the Sunday night before he arrived here in the States, I just hadn’t mapped the night out completely…..until about 2 weeks ago!
If you missed the 20/20 Special “Pope Francis & The People” – it was amazing! I knew about 5 minutes into watching it that I wanted to show it to my high school youth group teens. (Thank goodness for youtube and internet video links!) It was a remarkable special where people in 3 cities (a church/school, a homeless shelter, and a church with an program to aid immigrants from Mexico) had no idea that they were about to see and speak with Pope Francis LIVE from The Vatican. Sort of a big group version of facetime!!! (That’s how I explained it to the teens because they don’t know what ‘via satellite’ means, ha!) It was incredible to see Pope Francis interact with these people ‘live’ and answer their questions. He even surprised a 13 year old by asking her to sing for him (no pressure!) and a nun who was not scheduled to stand or ask him a question, but he spotted her in the crowd after seeing the story on the work she does to help the immigrants and he asked for her to stand so he could see her and thank her!
So…with this in the plan to show the teens in my youth group, I started planning the rest of my night. I did this meeting this past Sunday, just 1 day before Pope Francis was to arrive in here in The States. I realize that many of you are reading this after the fact, but it can certainly be modified to incorporate some of his messages and the images/footage of his visit.
For my meeting, here’s what I did…
I began by asking my teens what they knew about Pope Francis’ trip. Did they know what cities he was planning to visit and why. We also discussed his visit in Cuba (I am in South Florida so that is a very hot topic down here and we have many cuban teens in my group) which is where he was on the day of our youth group meeting. I also asked them if they knew anything about Pope Francis and to share any thoughts or comments. I shared with my teens some interesting Pope Francis Fun Facts which I had been gathering over the past few weeks. Some were thanks to the Flocknote Pope Francis Fact Texts, the rest I found in a few Pope Francis Commemorative Magazines I purchased at a book store (one is Time Magazine, one is US magazine…you know the special edition souvenir types…they were $13.99 each but well worth the price as I will keep them in our Youth Room for the teens to refer to). I’m sure there are hundreds you could pick from, but the following are the ones I shared with my teens.
Pope Francis Fun Facts
- He wears his black orthopedic shoes instead of the regal and expensive red leather or velvet ones usually worn by popes.
- He lives in a small two room apartment instead of the more luxurious Papal Apartment.
- He travels in a Ford Focus and considers himself to be a normal person.
- He has been known to sneak out of The Vatican at night to visit the homeless.
- He ‘re-gifted’ a Harley Davidson Motorcycle to a charity auction which raised almost $400,000.
- He often will pose with groups of teens in St. Peter’s Square for a selfie/photo.
- He’s an actual scientist with a degree in Chemistry and he also studied philosophy and has a doctorate in theology.
- His mom didn’t want him to become a priest. When he entered a Jesuit Seminary, she refused to visit him. As the oldest son, he thinks that she felt he should have waited a bit and kept working.
- As a boy, he collected stamps for fun. Today he really enjoys reading and listening to music.
- He had 3 girlfriends as a young man. One particular one he used to salsa dance with and another which he fell in love with which he said he couldn’t pray for a week because when he wanted to do so, “This girl would appear in my head!”
- He doesn’t watch tv at all. He made a promise to the Virgin Mary in 1990 that he would turn off the tube and he hasn’t broken his vow. Even when his favorite soccer team from Argentina plays, San Lorenzo de Almagro, there is a Swiss Guard who will tell him the results and how they are doing in the league table.
- He only has 1 lung! As a teen, an infection required surgery to remove most of a lung, but he never let it slow him down.
- He worked as a bouncer in a night club in Argentina during his college years to earn money.
- He’s on twitter with over 14 million followers worldwide.
- He jots down his own to do lists and does not need a personal assistant. He enjoys having his own personal date book and jotting appointments down himself in pencil.
- He’s a big soccer fan and is a lifetime member of his hometown team, San Lorenzo Football Club.
- He knows how to dance The Tango, as all good Argentinians should!
- He loves chatting on the phone with his friends, but he doesn’t own a cell phone. He prefers landlines.
- He’s a good cook! He makes a fantastic paella and he has taught The Vatican Chefs how to make his favorite dessert – Dulce de Leche
- He hs admitted that sometimes he dozes off during prayer at night, but he says it’s good to fall asleep in God’s presence.
- He’s a Lord of the Rings fan and has called The Hobbit’s Frodo & Bilbo Baggins hopeful heroes who are called to walk a path between good and evil.
- He is a movie lover.
- He speaks 7 languages.
Once we finished the fun facts, I showed the 20/20 special. I hooked my computer up to a projector to show it on our wall and I chose to use the link below from ABC. It is also available on youtube, however I chose the ABC link because I wanted them to see the beginning package before the interview began. The youtube versions had cut that out and began with Pope Francis already sitting in his chair ready to speak to the people. The only problem with the ABC link is that there are a few ads/commercials which cannot be skipped, but I simply muted our audio and we discussed what we had just seen during those times.
Here is the link to the video I showed:
Once we had viewed the entire video, we had a discussion on what we saw. (I have a list of discussion questions, if you are interested in reading or using them, let me know and I’ll be happy to send them along to you.)
Then I handed out a page of questions for my teens to answer. My plan was to get them thinking, but also to go through them and publish a few answers to every question in our church bulletin this coming Sunday (the last day of his visit in the US). I thought it would be awesome for our other parishoners to read the answers our teens gave. I asked each teen to answer each question honestly and to put his/her name and grade on the paper so that when I published in the bulletin, I could put each teen’s name and grade next to his/her quoted answer.
Jenn’s Questions…(modify for your town/church name/sports teams etc.)
“Bringing Pope Francis Close to You!”
- If you could ask Pope Francis 1 question, what would it be?
- What advice do you think Pope Francis would give you if he had the chance to meet you?
- Why do you think Pope Francis is so popular?
- If Pope Francis asked you to sing a song for him, as he did of the girl in the special, what song would you sing?
- If ou could ask Pope Francis to pray for one special intention, what would it be?
- If you could suggest that Pope Francis sit down and have a conversation with one person in the US during his visit, who would it be?
- If you could take Pope Francis anywhere in Coral Springs (our town), where would you take him? Why?
- If Pope Francis visited your high school on a regular school day, what do you think his thoughts would be?
- If Pope Francis DID watch TV (he doesn’t…see facts above), what show would you recommend he watch?
- If you could take Pope Francis to watch any one of South Florida’s Professional Sports Team’s play a game, which team would you take him to see? Miami Heat, Miami Dolphins, Florida Panthers, Florida Marlins, or Ft.Lauderdale Strikers? (our local sports teams)
- If you could tell Pope Francis what teenagers living in Coral Springs (our town) need from him, what would you say?
- If Pope Francis had a chance o visit St. Elizabeth Ann Seton (our church), what do you think he would say to us?
- If Pope Francis could sit down and talk to Father Kelly (our pastor), what do you think he would tell him?
- If Pope Francis came to youth group one night, what do you think he would observe/like about it?
I collected all the papers when they were finished and then went through and picked a few answers of each question to publish in our church bulletin. We had some amazing and also fun answers! (I’d take the Pope to Chipotle to see what he got on his burrito. I tell him the teens in our town need hope and guidance. I’d take him to a Heat game because they are better than our other local teams. He’d tell Father Kelly he’s doing a great job and we have a wonderful community of faith at St. EAS. Etc.)
I ended the night with a song that lead into prayer intentions (which we do every week). Sirius added a new channel recently and I have been hearing this song quite a bit over the last two weeks. The more I heard it, the more it seemed to be the perfect song for this night and for my young teen catholics who Pope Francis will certainly have messages for this week. Turns out it’s an older song, but easily found on itunes by the original artist John Legend and a few others including a couple acapella groups.
Here is a link to the song for a quick listen. It’s not great quality, but if you like it you can get the actual song easily.
I downloaded on itunes for $.99
It was a great meeting and an awesome discussion!!! It worked out for us to have it on the literal ‘eve’ of his arrival here in the US, but it certainly can be used at a later date.
Special thanks to the folks at Flocknote for the awesome Pope Francis Facts as well as whoever created the beyond adorable Popemoji’s which I downloaded and used for a week prior on our youth group’s social media accounts and also as images on our bulletin page with the answers to the questions. (Search for “POPEMOJI” in the app store…they’re free and awesome!)