How Word of Life Follows the Ecclesial Method

The Word of Life series follows a pedagogical method developed by Monsignor Francis D. Kelly. This method is referred to as the ecclesial method. This method is particularly effective because it gradually reveals the truths of Divine Revelation and calls those being catechized to conversion and discipleship. The ecclesial method recognizes that God’s grace proceeds, accompanies, and then sends one forth from the catechetical session. It is important to allocate your time so that you are able to cover all five steps of the ecclesial method (see Timing Overview on page viii of this manual).


Steps of the Ecclesial Method

1. Preparing (Preparation)

This step prepares the students with God’s grace for learning and conversion. It draws students away from their daily distractions into a prayerful learning environment so that they are open to the promptings of the Holy Spirit. It is highly recommended that a sacred space be incorporated into the classroom. This could be a table or a place in the classroom where you can introduce the colors of the liturgical season into the display (purple: Advent and Lent; green: Ordinary

Time; white: Christmas and Easter; red: the Passion, martyrs). You also also display holy objects that are discussed in the lesson (e.g., crucifix, holy water, and Bible).

Prayer: The following methods of prayer prepare and draw students into the truths that are presented in each lesson:

  • Opening Prayer in Student Text
  • Lectio Divina (Divine Reading): This is a traditional practice of reading, meditating on, praying with, and listening to Sacred Scripture. Age-level reflections are provided in each lesson to prompt students in the meditation step. Go to the quick-start guide to lectio divina for a handy reference during this prayer. The portals also have lectio divina videos for use in the classroom or at home.

Sacred Art: Art is often inspired by God. It is an effective means for preparing the students and opening their hearts

to the promptings of the Holy Spirit. Each chapter provides prayerful reflections for the sacred art image in the Student

Text. Sacred art reflections invite students to enter visually into the mysteries of Christ and ponder these mysteries in

a prayerful exercise. A digital version of each image that can be projected on a whiteboard is posted on the teacher

portal. The portals also have sacred art videos for use in the classroom or at home.

Additional Preparation:

  • Oral Review Questions: Questions are provided to review either the previous chapter or lesson. Additionally, chapter review questions are included at the end of every chapter. Note: Oral review questions are in addition to activities and reviews in the Student Text.
  • Introduction: Each chapter provides an introduction that appears just before the Proclamation. This introduction engages students using everyday situations to which they can relate.
  • Optional Memory Verse Activities: Available on the teacher portal, these activities utilize movement and repetition to help students memorize or become more familiar with the Scripture verse for each chapter. These activities can be used during any step of the lesson, before the prayer, or even as a part of the Celebration at the end of class.


2. Proclaiming (Proclamation)

This step provides a succinct statement of truth. Its purpose is to convict the students of the Good News of Jesus Christ and to open their hearts and minds to the truths of the faith. As students are quieted, teachers should read the Proclamation with conviction. You may want to repeat it slowly, but do not take time to discuss it because it will be fully covered in the lesson explanation.


3. Seeking (Explanation)

This step explains or supports the Proclamation. Each chapter has four teaching lessons followed by a chapter

review. The lesson focus is the main idea of the lesson. Teachers may prefer to teach this concept on their own or use discussion points with bulleted questions and answers that have been developed. This discussion engages students and assists them in understanding and responding to the truths taught by the lesson. This discussion provides opportunities to draw students into the lesson, assess student understanding, encourage the practice of virtue, and lead students to evangelize as dynamic witnesses. Each lesson ends with a conclusion, stating the main idea learned.

The first lesson of each chapter always begins with Sacred Scripture. Scripture is used throughout each chapter to support the Proclamation and is often a continuation of the narrative of salvation.

The next three lessons build upon the Scripture and invite the students into a deeper understanding of the truths contained in it.

The last lesson for this step is always a brief review of the chapter. This is a good time to do the bonus activities if you are unable to fit them into the timing of each day’s lesson.


Activities: Each chapter includes Student Text activities that reinforce what students have learned. Optional activities are provided in some lessons. These optional activities are more in-depth and challenging than activities that appear in the Student Text. Printable blackline masters of these activities are available on the teacher portal.

Bonus activities that reinforce what students have learned also are provided for every chapter. These consist of a variety of activities that are tailored to different learning styles to help the students better understand and live out their faith. These are located at the end of each chapter in the teacher or parish catechist manual.


4. Living (Application)

Once the material has been presented and explained, teachers can facilitate a response of faith and call to conversion, whereby students further absorb and incorporate the faith into their lives. Because the Catholic faith is a living faith through which we are forming young disciples, this is a critical step in the process. During this step, students will engage with hypothetical situations and apply what they have learned by connecting it with the practice of virtue. This step normally concludes with specific Faith Challenges for students that will guide them in reflecting on the material and applying it to their lives.

Saints: Each unit walks students through the life of a specific saint. Every chapter in the unit presents a look into specific

moments from the saint’s life that contributed to his or her conversion and growth in virtue and holiness. These narratives provide real-life examples of lives changed through God’s grace.

Review: Lessons 1–4 for the “Living” section end with oral review questions for the current lesson. Each chapter ends with oral review questions.


5. Responding (Celebration)

This step celebrates, with God’s grace, what students have learned by giving thanks and praise to God for all that He has

given. This step also sends the students forth to be a living witness of Christ in their families, school, and community.


Each chapter focuses on a selected prayer (see chart). These prayers are Catholic prayers for students to learn about and pray. The Celebration of Lesson 1 begins with a brief explanation about part or all of the prayer. This is followed by the entire prayer. Lessons 2–4 begin with a scripted prayer, followed by the chapter prayer.