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Links for Learners

by Lynn and Bob Gillen

August 1999

The following Links for Learners resource is offered to those who would like to use St. Anthony Messenger in an educational setting or for further study at home. This resource is prepared with high school students in mind, but can be adapted for other age groups. We will feature one article for further study each month. Back issues, beginning in May 1997, contain this resource. Up until December 1998 it was called a teacher's guide or classroom resource. Teachers with access to computer labs should encourage students to access the article directly online. Students have our permission to print out a copy of the article for classroom use. We encourage you to subscribe to the print edition of St. Anthony Messenger, where you will see all of the graphics, and more articles that you might find useful on a variety of topics. Please let us know how we can improve this service by sending feedback to

Please see our links disclaimer located at the end of this document.

Links for Learning

1. Finding Curriculum Connections for High School Teachers and Students

This month’s Links for Learners will support high school curriculum in:


    • Religion - Christian life-styles; the Church's sacramental life
    • Social Studies - family mores; divorce in society
    • Psychology - normal human feelings and emotions; anger management; coping mechanisms
    1. Finding Links for Discussion Group Leaders and Participants

Look for connections for use in programs such as:

Parish sacramental preparation programs and CCD classes; young adult discussion programs; seasonal discussion groups; RCIA programs.

Parents will also find this material useful in initiating discussion around the dinner table, in home study, at family activities, or as preparation for parent/teacher meetings.

Understanding Basic Terms in This Month’s Article

Look for these key words and terms as you read the article. Definitions or explanations can be researched from the article itself, or from the resource materials cited throughout the Link for Learners.


Support Group

Grieving Process








Recognizing our feelings in times of stress

Stress often hides behind a mask of excess activity. The author prompts us to look closely at feelings that we may not be acknowledging because we're just too busy getting through the day. When life turns upside down, we scramble to keep up with tasks and chores, often covering for someone else who is incapable because of major illness or is no longer present because of separation, divorce or death.

A major life event such as divorce creates feelings we perhaps haven't yet experienced with such intensity: anger, uncertainty, fear, isolation, confusion. Maybe none of your friends have experienced what your family is going through. The first step in dealing with these feelings is recognizing their presence. Emotional health starts with recognition.

If you're reading this as an individual, check out a health education site put together by a physician and targeted especially for high school and college students. Measure your stress with the scale you'll find at this site. If you're part of a discussion group, you can all take the test individually and then share your thoughts in conversation.

You may enjoy reading stories about how fictional young people deal with their emotional highs and lows. Here's a sample online bibliography of fiction for junior high kids (ages 12 to 15) affected by divorce. The books in this particular bibliography were written in the 1970's and 1980's, but their truth is still current. Your group may want to choose a book together, read it and then share reactions to the feelings highlighted in the story.

Divorce has certainly been treated extensively by film, television movies and documentaries. For a discussion starter, view a few scenes from a film such as Kramer vs. Kramer. Whatever film you choose, talk about how the children and the parents were affected by a separation or divorce. Use dialogue or action from the film's scenes to support your thoughts.

Young People's Beginning Experience serves as a resource for teens, supporting their efforts to identify and deal with the emotions they feel in the middle of stress.

Learning to cope with life's stresses

Coping is a learned skill. Most of us don't automatically respond in psychologically healthy ways to the stresses we find in our lives. But if we have help, if we're guided by the experiences of others, we can learn healthy reactions to what confronts us.

Emotional reactions are normal. How we deal with them is the real issue. For example, violence need not be an automatic response to anger. Feelings of anger and isolation in two young men set apart from their high school classmates are normal. The revengeful killing in Littleton, Colorado, is not a normal response.

Anger management programs help individuals find a healthy outlet for their feelings.

Again, Beginning Experience offers a teenager tools to deal with the pain of divorce and other family crises. The program does not offer an immediate solution. Support is actually a process. Beginning Experience helps teens find other young people who have similar experiences and feelings. This becomes the seed of a support group, new-found friends who later care for one another when life gets difficult. Your discussion group may find it helpful to talk about how important it is to share feelings with someone who also is living through the same difficulties. Look for a Beginning Experience team near you. If you need help, you can reach out to them. If you want more information for your discussion group, perhaps you can arrange for someone to speak to the group, or have an online chat with them.

Beginning Experience considers communication between a teen and his parents another critical element in the coping process. The teen participants are encouraged to talk to their parents about how they feel. No matter how difficult, conversation is better than silence.

Stephen Covey heads up a consulting company that provides services in personal and organizational effectiveness. Covey's book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, is a well-known business management self-help guide. Covey has now authored The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families, offering similar guidance to families. This book contains numerous real-life stories of parents and teens who found effective methods of dealing with their emotional stress. Your discussion group can find a wealth of material here to get group conversation started. And one of Covey's children, Sean, has written a book in the same vein for teenagers, entitled The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens: The Ultimate Teenage Success Guide.

The Ministry of the Church

This month's author tells us that the Beginning Experience program is rooted in the sacramental life of the Church. And sacramental life is simply the Church working in Jesus' name, acting as a sign of his presence in this world. When Sister Josephine Stewart and Jo Lamia got the idea to put together the Beginning Experience program, they acted as ministers of Jesus' love. We are the Church, each of us who is baptized. We are strengthened in our role by the Spirit through the Sacrament of Confirmation, and nurtured with living bread in the Sacrament of the Eucharist.

The Beginning Experience program is but one example of God's people ministering to those in need. This ministry grows through the efforts of the Church. The individuals who pass through the program often go on to become leaders themselves. We often hear adults refer to teens as the future of the Church. Well, in fact they are the Church now. They minister to other teens and offer inspiration to adults as well. They live the sacramental life of the Church through their generosity and service.

Take this opportunity to identify and discuss situations in which teens minister to one another. What is your experience of friends, classmates or other teens helping you? Where can you help others? Teens more frequently are nominated and elected to their local parish councils. Can you find opportunities to serve in this capacity?

Can you identify other parish programs that benefit teens or adults with special needs? Examples will include pre-Cana for engaged couples, Marriage Encounter for couples, school retreats such as Cursillo and Kairos and support groups for widowed and separated individuals. Look at the Web sites for your parish or your diocese to find other programs. Most of these programs share common elements: presentation, reflection, writing and sharing.

Further Print Resources

M. Scott Peck, The Road Less Traveled, Simon and Schuster.

Mary Pipher, The Shelter of Each Other: Rebuilding Our Families, Ballantine Books, 1997.

Jack Canfield, Editor, Chicken Soup for Teenagers, Health Communications, 1997.

Daniel Goleman, Working with Emotional Intelligence, Bantam Doubleday Dell, 1998. Early chapters focus on the lack of coping skills among adults and teens.

Research Resources

Try accessing some of these Internet sources for further reference. Be aware, however, that some of these sites may charge for downloading articles contained within the site’s archives.

The New York Times

The Los Angeles Times

Time Magazine



Pathfinder - Access site to a number of online news publications

The Associated Press

The Chicago Tribune

People magazine

The History Channel

The Miami Herald

The Close Up FoundationWashington, D.C.-based organization

ABC News

Channel One’s online resource

The Vatican

Links Disclaimer:

The links contained within this resource guide are functional at the time the page is posted. Over time, however, some of the links may become ineffective.

These links are provided solely as a convenience to you and not as an endorsement by St. Anthony Messenger Press/Franciscan Communications of the contents on such third-party Web sites. St. Anthony Messenger Press/Franciscan Communications is not responsible for the content of linked third-party sites and does not make any representations regarding the content or accuracy of materials on such third-party Web sites. If you decide to access linked third-party Web sites, you do so at your own risk.

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