Nineteen girls met at St. Theresa Catholic School in Coral Gables, Florida last year and had loads of fun while learning important lessons about their unique feminine genius and the important role they play in this world as a daughter of God.
The girls, who ranged in age from 11 to 13, met weekly for 90 minutes after school and were graced with three fun-loving facilitators: Francesca Zepeda-Gutierrez, Carolina Vizcaino and Katherine Hernandez.
Led by hearts full of love and the Holy Spirit, these women came up with unique ways to present each lesson to the girls and were kind enough to share them with all of us.
For example, at the first meeting, the girls sat on colorful picnic mats for some pizza and prayer, and then talked about the virtues and the gifts God gives us.
To add perspective to the teaching, they discussed Gal Gadot, the Israeli actress who starred in Super Woman and who said her super-power was being a mother.
“So we talked about how being a mom is a wonderful call and that those God-given virtues that each one of us have are our ‘super powers’,” Francesca said.
Each girl was then instructed to take a puzzle piece out of a Super Woman bag and write a talent/strength and a virtue on it that they believed they had. Next, they filled out the activity for Lesson 2 in the Facilitator/Teacher Guide entitled, “How Do I Use My Gifts to Help Others?” and wrote the answer on their puzzle piece.
Then it was time to put all those puzzle pieces together. When they did so, it illustrated the many beautiful things that can happen when we put our talents and virtues to work serving God and helping others.
“Those ‘super powers’ are meaningful only in the measure we use them for good, to serve God,” Francesca taught. “God's word is our sword & shield!”
They ended the class by dancing to the song, “Bulletproof” by Citizen Way.
In another class, they pondered the question, “Who We Say We Are vs. Who God Says We Are.” Each girl was given a colorful index card and was asked to look at themselves in a mirror and write some good things that they saw in themselves along with a few areas that they felt needed work. The girls later shared what they wrote, which was a good exercise in introspection.
This was followed by a Power Point presentation containing pictures of women from different eras and different parts of the world from National Geographic.
“We talked about how the world sees beauty and how in different parts of the world beauty is seen very differently. We mentioned that many times women hurt themselves to fit into what their culture says is beautiful. But what matters is how we are inside, in our souls. God already made us beautiful and we don't have to change who we are to please the outside world,” Francesca taught.
“Here we used two of the bright ideas from the Facilitator's Guide and decided to surprise the girls with a special gift - journals! Half is to be used as the 'gratitude part' to write down things they are grateful for and the other half is to write prayers and poems and to paste pictures. They then decorated their journals.”
They once again finished their class with some Christian rock, which is very popular with teens.
When Halloween rolled around, they jumped ahead in the study to Chapter Three and focused on the lessons about Angels and Demons, which they followed with a hands-on activity – making angel wings!
Sometimes just the addition of a video or a song can add a fun dimension to a lesson.
For example, when they were reading about Olympic skater Tara Lapinski and her devotion to St. Therese, the girls watched a video of when Tara won the gold medal at Nagano.
“Part of that lesson was about the signified will of God and His will of good pleasure, and how we need to be obedient and persevere every day in our commitment to God’s will,” Francesca said.
The facilitators used an obstacle course to teach the girls how to focus on their virtues and not get tripped up by obstacles like gossip, addiction to social media, laziness, or doing what’s popular instead of what’s right. In the end, the winners received gold medals just like Tara’s.
They ended this lesson by singing a tune called, “Get Back Up Again.”
The Young Women of Grace group in Coral Gables proves that with the help of the Study Guide, the Facilitator/Teacher Guide, and the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, we really can provide our daughters with the strong foundation they need to become strong and virtuous young women.
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