The Catholic Diocese of Lafayette, Indiana Catechetical Curriculum Guidelines

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Important Events

In 1854, Pope Pius IX declared the teaching of the Immaculate Conception to be dogma. The Immaculate Conception celebrates the fact that Mary was free from the stain of sin from the moment of her conception by virtue of the graces of redemption gained for humanity by Christ on the Cross. This teaching has been believed since the very early Church. Pope Pius IX declared it to be dogma in 1854 because people were beginning to question the truth of the teaching.

132, 356, 319 Immaculate Conception; The Feast of the Immaculate Conception

Several years later in a small town in France a young woman named Bernadette Soubirous began seeing visions of Our Lady. Mary identified herself as the “Immaculate Conception.” Miraculously, from the dry ground a spring began to flow. This spring continues to flow and its water has cured many. Lourdes remains a popular place of pilgrimage to this day. Bernadette was canonized a Saint on December 8, 1933 by Pope Pius XI. Her feast day is celebrated on April 16th.

132 A List of Saints for Kids; Saints on the Screen; The Song of Bernadette; Apparitions

In the late nineteenth century and the early twentieth century, a new heresy arose that caused many problems for the Catholic Church. The heresy was called Modernism. Modernism rejects the necessity of religion and reduces faith to a mere feeling. Modernism eradicates Revelation, Sacred Scripture, Sacred Tradition, miracles and even the very divinity of Christ from its belief system. Modernism was condemned by many popes, but Pope Pius X was the most vocal.

41c, 41e, 42–44 Just What Is a Heresy?

In December of 1869, Pope Pius IX opened the First Vatican Council. The purpose of this council was to reconfirm the Faith because it was under heavy attack. The First Vatican Council produced two documents, the first dealt with the faith and the second proclaimed the infallibility of the pope. The council came to an abrupt halt when Italian troops invaded Rome signaling the problems that would lead to World War I.

134–135, 319, 357, 359 The Spirit of Truth

By the mid-nineteenth century the Industrial Revolution was well on its way. The Industrial Revolution changed the lives of people everywhere as it saw the waning of small family businesses and the growth of big business. As the Industrial Revolution progressed, the Church began to see problems with the way workers were being treated. In the late nineteenth century, the Church began a campaign to advocate for the rights of workers, stating that workers should have reasonable and just working hours, days of rest, and the right to unionize. The rise of awareness of people’s individual rights prompted the Church to begin formulating statements on its Catholic Social Teaching.

127, 159b, 257c, 267b, 275, 345–346, 350 Social Justice; Living Lives for Others; Social Justice—Catholic Social Teaching

There are two basic principles that are at the center of the Church’s social doctrine; the dignity of the human person and care for the common good. Because each person is created in the image of God, each person has inherent rights given by God. The social doctrine of the Church outlines these rights and advocates for these for all people.

39, 41b, 49, 105c, 113, 137, 221, 237c, 238–239, 241–243, 245, 257c, 345 Social Justice; Community and the Common Good; The Common Good; Christian Concept of Justice

Pope St. Pius X was a remarkable man who brought great reform to the Catholic Church. In a time when modernism was rampant, he spoke out strongly against it. He is especially known for his love of the Eucharist. He encouraged more frequent reception of the Eucharist and lowered the age of reception of First Holy Communion to seven years of age.

161 First Eucharist; Celebrating the Eucharist in Community

In 1914, World War I broke out in Europe. Amidst this time of war the Church unceasingly called for peace. Pope Benedict XV maintained a position of neutrality while pushing for peace efforts. He led the Church in helping care for the physical and spiritual needs of those hurt by the war.

149b, 157, 161, 242 Avoiding War

In 1917, Our Lady appeared to three young children in the fields of Fatima, Portugal. She encouraged the children to pray the rosary and asked them to pray for Russia. Our Lady of Fatima predicted a miracle of the sun spinning in the sky. Sure enough, hundreds looked on as the sun danced in the sky. To this day, no scientific evidence can be found for this occurrence. Apparitions

During the years between World War I and World War II, several governments began severely persecuting the Church. As Russia formed into the communist Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) they began wide scale persecutions of Catholics and religion in general. In Mexico, major persecutions of Catholics began with the destruction of churches.

161, 319 Avoiding War

In 1929, seeing the need to establish legal protection for the Vatican Pope Pius XI signed the Lateran Treaty with Mussolini which recognized Mussolini as the leader of the Italian government and made the Vatican its own nation. In the years to come this would prove extremely helpful to the Church and the world.


Before long the world was back at war. In 1939, World War II began. Again, the leadership of the Church, under Pope Pius XII, declared neutrality believing that this would help to assure peace.


Back in 1933, in an attempt to solidify his political regime, Hitler signed a concordat with the Vatican. The concordat granted the Church many rights. However, the concordat was violated as soon as the ink was dry on the page. Hitler immediately began persecuting the Church and Jews.

Hitler’s widespread persecution of the Jews is known as the Holocaust. During the war it is said that Pope Pius XII helped to rescue over 400 thousand Jews from the Holocaust. Many have criticized him for not being more outspoken against Nazism; however, he believed that he could do more good by acting justly than by alienating Germany through an outright condemnation.

When World War II ended in 1945, Europe was in shambles. Germany was defeated, but the USSR was a growing problem. Over the course of the next 50 years the Church would speak out against the atrocities that were occurring in the USSR.


In 1950, the Pope declared the Assumption of Mary the Mother of God to be a dogma of the Church. The dogma of the Assumption was declared at this time in history because before this time it was a generally accepted tenet of belief. When its truth came into question the Church studied and prayed about the issue and officially declared it a dogma so that people could continue to believe with certainty.

163–164 Sunday Connection: August 15—The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary—for Families, & August 15—The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary—for Groups

In 1962, the now Blessed Pope John XXIII called the 21st Ecumenical Council, known as the Second Vatican Council.
During Vatican II, which lasted for three years, all the bishops in the world gathered together at the Vatican to discuss matters that were vital to the Church. They did not seek to change the Church, but rather to clarify what the Church believes.
The Council produced 16 documents, each discussing a different issue in the life of the Church. A few of the things discussed were: the role of bishops and priests in the Church, the role of the laity, the renewal of religious orders, the use of modern technology, the Sacred Scriptures, the liturgical life of the Church, ecumenism, and the role of the Church in the world.
There were many important things that were discussed at the Second Vatican Council. One important emphasis at the council was helping the laity to become more actively involved in their faith and helping them to understand their own call to holiness. A second influential discussion revolved around maintaining the important theology of the liturgy (the Mass) while encouraging the average Catholic to be actively involved. A third important topic at the council was ecumenism. In the years leading up to the council many Christian communities had begun discussing steps to greater Christian unity. At the council the bishops decided to join in the effort of ecumenism which encourages Christian unity. A fourth important decision was to return to the works of the early Church fathers after the Gospels were written. Some of these Church fathers are St. Augustine, St. Ignatius of Antioch, and Origen. A fifth important discussion focused upon being open to the modern world without losing the integrity of Church teaching.
Many people believe that Vatican II made up new doctrine and changed Catholicism. However, a correct understanding of the Second Vatican Council reveals that the Church Fathers at Vatican II simply and clearly presented what the Church has believed since Pentecost. Vatican II told the entire Church to rediscover the early Fathers of the Church and their teaching.

64, 76–77, 78, 133, 137, 159b, 162, 163–164, 167, 172, 179, 183b, 196, 319, 366 Catholic Interpretation of Scripture; Holiness; The Church as the People of God; The Priesthood of All Believers; Blessed John XXIII

In 1968, Pope Paul VI promulgated Humanae Vitae (Of Human Life). This document addressed the much disputed issue of birth control. The Church maintained Her constant position that artificial birth control is a serious moral wrong. However, the Church encouraged the prayerful and thoughtful use of Natural Family Planning.

97, 97sn The Ultimate Value of Human Life

In 1978, Pope John Paul II was elected after the very brief papacy of 33 days of Pope John Paul I.
Pope John Paul II was the first Polish pope in the history of the Church and the first non-Italian pope in 455 years.
He was born into a poor family and had lost all of his family by his early twenties. He studied for the priesthood and was ordained during World War II.
Pope John Paul II was one of the most well traveled popes in all of history and made multiple trips to the United States.
In 1985, Pope John Paul II called together youths from every nation to participate in a bi-annual World Youth Day. He continued these gatherings, in a new location each time, until his death.
Pope John Paul II penned a number of influential encyclicals that influence the Church to this day. A few of his encyclicals are: Evangelium Vitae (The Gospel of Life), Ut Unum Sint (The Splendor of Truth), Fides et Ratio (Faith and Reason), Mulieris Dignitatem (On the Vocation and Dignity of Women), and Redemptor Hominis (The Redeemer of Man).
He died on April 2, 2005 after suffering for many years with Parkinson’s disease. His funeral was watched by millions around the globe.

59, 91, 126, 144, 149c, 151, 237b, 260, 319 John Paul II: A Biographical Sketch; John Paul II and the Environment; A Few Lessons for Living; The Gospel of Life

In 1992, the world was blessed with a great gift, the Universal Catechism of the Catholic Church. By 1994, it was translated into English. Since the publication of the Catechism of the Catholic Church several documents explaining the Catechism of the Catholic Church have come out, such as, the Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church and the United States Catholic Catechism for Adults.

173c, 269, Every Catechist Preparation page (page b) includes references to the relevant CCC entries for the chapter

After the death of John Paul II the Cardinals convened a conclave and elected Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger as the next pope. He took the name Benedict XVI in honor of Pope Benedict XV who helped bring peace to Europe during World War I.

144, 149c, 162 Pope Benedict XVI; Pope Benedict XVI Comes to the United States, April 15–20, 2008

During his time as Pope, he has written three encyclicals, Deus Caritas Est (God is Love), Spe Salvi (Saved in Hope), and Caritas In Veritate (Charity in Truth). He has led two international World Youth Days, one in his native Germany and one in Australia.

144, 149c, 162 Pope Benedict XVI


Blessed Miguel Pro – One very holy man who was martyred under the hostile regime in Mexico was Miguel Pro. Miguel ministered to the Catholics in Mexico at a time when it was criminal to do so. Eventually, he was falsely accused of a bombing and turned over to a firing squad without a trial. Miguel embraced his impending death and just before he was shot shouted “Vivo Christo Rey” – “Long Live Christ the King.” Bl. Miguel lived his missionary call by his willingness to go to Mexico and minister to Catholic and non-Catholics at a time when death was the punishment for this missionary act. His martyrdom showed many the truth of the Catholic faith and inspired many to conversion. Blessed Miguel Pro, Saints Devoted to Mary

St. Maximilian Kolbe – It is often thought that only Jews were killed in the horrific Holocaust. However, there were many Catholic priests who stood up against Nazism that found themselves in concentration camp. One such man was St. Maximilian Kolbe. One day while in the concentration camps a prisoner escaped. According to policy the Nazi soldiers lined up a group of prisoners and counted out ten who were to be killed as punishment for an escaped prisoner. Among these was a young married man. St. Maximilian knew that this man had children to support so he volunteered to take the man’s place. St. Maximilian died at Auschwitz after three weeks of starvation. His feast day is August 14th. St. Maximilian lived his missionary call by ministering to Catholic and Jews in the Nazi prison camp. St. Maximilian showed Christ’s love to all around him even as he lay starving to death. Saints by Our Side Intergenerational Event: Meet Your Match

Lesson Eleven 1500 – Present: The Church in the United States

The Church in the United States began in the late fifteenth century when Spanish Catholic explorers set foot in modern day Florida. Over the course of five centuries the Church has gone from a discriminated minority to a sizable group with a great deal of influence.

Important Events

Although the founding of the United States was primarily done by Protestants fleeing persecution in Europe, this country does have a very early Catholic presence.

One of the first instances of a Catholic presence in the United States occurred in 1513 when Spanish explorers came to modern day Florida bringing along their Catholic priests.

In 1611, French priests, both Jesuits and Franciscan were working in Indiana with the Miami Indians.

Over one-hundred years later, in 1634, 128 English colonists settled in Maryland. The idea to form a colony in Maryland came from Englishman George Calvert who was a Catholic convert.

Just as the Protestants were persecuted for not being Catholic in many European countries, so too were the Catholics persecuted for not being Protestant in the new territories that would become the United States. However, in 1649, Maryland became the first colony to pass an Act of Toleration of Catholics.

When colonist arrived in North America they found the land was already inhabited by Native Americans. Missionaries from many Catholic European countries desired to share the good news of Jesus Christ with the Native Americans. Some of the earliest missionaries ventured into what is now eastern Canada and New York; they are known as the North American Martyrs. John de Brebeuf and Isaac Jogues labored ceaselessly to convert the Native Americans to Christianity and eventually were martyred for the faith

96–97 The North American Martyrs; Jesuit Missionaries, Jesuit Missions

As time went on more religious orders began to come to the United States to serve. One of the first women’s religious orders to come to the new land was the Ursulines.


In 1776, Charles Carroll was the only Catholic to sign the Declaration of Independence.

In 1790, the United States was given its first bishop and its first diocese, the Diocese of Baltimore. The first bishop was Bishop John Carroll who was born in Maryland and served as its bishop for 25 years until his death in 1815.

In 1928, despite strong anti-Catholic sentiments of many Americans, Alfred E. Smith became the first Catholic to run for United States president. Although he lost he set the stage for future U.S. Catholic politicians.

The Catholic Church in Indiana:
In 1829, Father Stephen Theodore Badin, the first Catholic priest to be ordained in the United States, began working as a missionary at the Pottawatomie Indian Mission in Indiana, as well as surrounding states. Fr. Badin’s remains were moved to the University of Notre Dame in 1906 to be placed under the newly built log chapel.
Several years later in 1831, one acre of land was purchased in Fort Wayne for the Catholic Church and in 1839, St. Augustine; the first permanent church on the site was constructed.
By 1845, the first Catholic School in the Fort Wayne area was under construction. It was named the St. Augustine Academy for Girls. At the request of Father Julian Benoit, Mother Theodore Guérin and several other Sisters of Providence came to staff the school. Three years later the Cathedral Boys’ School was created. The boys’ school was staffed by the Brothers of the Holy Cross.
In January of 1857, the Diocese of Fort Wayne was created by Pope Pius IX. The first bishop was Bishop John Henry Luers.
In December of 1860, the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception was completed and dedicated.
In the mid-1900’s, the Diocese of Fort Wayne underwent significant change. First, in 1944, the southern half of the Diocese was reassigned to the newly created Diocese of Lafayette. Then in 1957, the northwestern part of the Diocese was reassigned to the Diocese of Gary. Finally, in 1960, the Diocese was renamed the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend.

217sn Saints by Our Side Intergenerational Event: Meet Your Match; Diocesan History Activity


Blessed Junipero Serra – While some great men and women were evangelizing on the eastern coast Bl. Junipero Serra and the Spanish missionaries were laboring on the west coast. Junipero was born in Spain and at a young age made the decision to join the Franciscans. The Franciscans sent Bl. Junipero to modern day Mexico to be a missionary. Later he received orders to go north to modern day California. Bl. Junipero founded numerous missions and evangelized many. He is revered even today in California and worldwide. Bl. Junipero lived his missionary call by venturing into unknown territory and sharing the Gospel message with Native Americans. Many places in the Western United States can trace the beginning of their Catholicism to a mission he founded.

Saint Mother Theodore Guerin – In 1880, Saint Mother Theordore Guerin came from France with her sisters, the Sisters of Providence, to establish a mission in what is now Terre Haute, Indiana. The Sisters of Providence also established schools. Mother Theodore came to Fort Wayne and established the first Catholic School in the area. She established the first of three schools run by the Sisters of Providence, two of which still remain, Saint John the Baptist and Saint Jude. Saint Mother Theodore Guerin is the first canonized saint of Indiana. Her feast is celebrated in the Church on October 3rd. St. Mother Theodore lived her missionary call by founding schools which taught the truths of the Catholic faith to those who knew little about it. Saints by Our Side Intergenerational Event: Meet Your Match

St. Frances Xavier Cabrini, Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha – Throughout this time, American Catholicism continued to grow and in 1946 St. Frances Xavier Cabrini was the first American citizen to be declared a saint. In 1980, Kateri Tekakwitha was declared Blessed by Pope John Paul II. Kateri was the first Native American to be declared Blessed. St. Frances and Bl. Kateri lived their missionary call by publically living their Catholic faith so that all could see.

11e, 15 List of Saints for Kids; Canonized U.S. Citizens

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