Pentecost 2017: Be Courageous

For Teachers

The message for Pentecost 2017 is to ‘Be courageous, be alternative in the world. The Holy Spirit of Courage is with you‘.

This Pentecost resource draws on the Archbishop’s letter and materials  prepared Archdiocesan Office for Youth. You will find suggested classroom activities, voices of young people, a message from Pope Francis and a suggested liturgy.


In the Classroom

Explore the suggested activities for Years 7-10. These activities reference the Content Areas and Learning Descriptors of the draft renewed RE Curriculum Framework.

pentecost_letter-2017_school_resource_classroom activities

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Explore the print versions of the following To Know, Woship and Love texts for content on Pentecost.

Book One Chapter 9: The Spirit Loves pp.66-73

Book Two Chapter 12: Pentecost People pp.132-137

Book Three Chapter 8: The Holy Spirit: The Holy Spirit in our Lives pp. 61-67

Book Four Chapter 8: The Holy Spirit: God’s Spirit Alive in the Church, pp. 59-65

Book Five Chapter 8: The Spirit is Alive in Us, pp.84-91

Book Six: Chapter 8: The Church, People of Pentecost, pp.72-81

Explore the digital versions of the following To Know, Woship and Love texts for content on Pentecost.

Year Seven Chapter 13: The Liturgical Year

Year Eight Chapter 3: The First Christians

Background Reading

Read about the history of the Achbishop’s Pentecost Letter to the Youth and an unpacking of this year’s theme. Go to the Other Voices to watch and listen to secondary school students share the challenges of living their faith courageously today.

pentecost_letter-2017_school_resource-letter explained

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Explore the Catholic Identity article written by Vas Clementine  on ‘Celebrating Pentecost in our Schools’.  Vas can be contacted

Volume 7 – Number 7 19 May 2017.

Catholic Identity

Celebrating Pentecost in our Schools

By Vincent (Vas) Clementine, Formation Officer, Liturgy, Prayer and Spirituality, at Catholic Education Melbourne.

The feast of Pentecost, which we celebrate in a couple of weeks, is about God’s presence with us. In the story of Pentecost in the Acts of the Apostles, the disciples experienced the Holy Spirit entering into each one of them and then drawing them together.

On that day in Jerusalem there were people gathered from all over the world, people from every culture and language group. When the disciples went out to share the Spirit of Pentecost they were able to communicate with those people of diverse cultures and languages in a way that spoke personally to each one: ‘in our own languages we hear them speaking about God’s deeds of power’ (Acts 2: 11). On that day the first Christian community was born: a community of forgiveness, of cultural diversity, of sharing, of equality, of mutual support and benefit, of understanding and trust (Acts 2: 43–47). For this reason, Pentecost is sometimes called the birthday of the Church.

Suggestion: Celebrate the Church’s birthday as a Multicultural Festival.

Pentecost and the Catholic school

Pentecost is also the birthday of each of our learning communities, and of Catholic education. So it is an opportune moment for schools to celebrate who they are, to celebrate their ecclesial identity, their raison d’être. In The Catholic School on the Threshold of the Third Millennium, schools are strongly affirmed as ‘places of evangelisation, of complete formation, of inculturation, of apprenticeship in a lively dialogue between young people of different religions and social backgrounds’ (n. 11). This aspect of the Catholic school is not an adjunct but ‘a distinctive characteristic which penetrates and informs every moment of its educational activity’. Today more than ever, our schools are meeting places for the world’s cultures and languages, places of encounter and dialogue, where we learn about God’s presence within us and where we encounter God in the other. So it is a great idea to celebrate Pentecost in our schools.

The birthday of the Church

Church feasts don’t begin and end inside the walls of the church. This has been made abundantly clear by Pope Francis who, on Holy Thursday, chose to wash the feet of refugees who were Hindu, Muslim and Christian. There are other important instances too. Pancake Tuesday doesn’t happen in the church, it happens in the kitchen, and yet it is a rich traditional celebration of Shrove Tuesday. We don’t eat Hot Cross Buns in the church but they are an ancient Lenten and Easter tradition. These feasts happen in the kitchen and at the dining table, or at morning tea. In a similar way the feast of Pentecost could be celebrated in your school, perhaps in ways unique to your local context.

Archbishop Hart’s Pentecost Letter to Youth: Be Courageous

For some years Archbishop Denis Hart has written a Pentecost letter to the young people of the Archdiocese of Melbourne. This year his Pentecost Letter to Youth is entitled Be Courageous. In it he says,

Jesus was like us in all things but he chose to live a courageous life. Jesus found the courage to hear God’s will for his life and not his own. He found the courage not to conform to what others – his family, his friends, and the system he grew up in – wanted him to do when they contradicted God’s dream for him.

These words are liberating and galvanising. The Letter would be a powerful way to engage students in reflecting on the meaning of Pentecost for them today. The Archdiocesan Office for Youth website also has a number of resources to assist with this.

Pentecost is also an opportunity to welcome the stranger and to encounter the mystery of God. This theme runs all the way through the Bible. For instance, in the Old Testament, ‘You must not mistreat or oppress foreigners in any way. Remember, you yourselves were once foreigners in the land of Egypt’ (Ex 22: 21), and in the New Testament, ‘Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels’ (Heb 13: 2). We should be reminded that God lived a human life and was for the most part unrecognised. Jesus also asks us to treat others as we would treat him: ‘Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me’ (Mt 25: 40).

Embracing the cultural diversity of our schools

Sometimes the challenge is remembering. Pope Francis offers plenty of reminders in his words and his actions. In Evangelii Gaudium he asks us to ‘remove our sandals before the sacred ground of the other’ (Ex 3: 5), echoing the sense of reverence as when Moses approached the burning bush. Again, in washing the feet of non-Christians on Holy Thursday he gives us a reminder of what openness looks like. Pope Francis is asking us to have the same reverence for the mystery of another person as we do in approaching the mystery of God. In that approach we are not aiming to speak but to encounter, and to listen as well as to speak, since, as the NCEC Framework for Formation reminds us, ‘each person’s life is sacred and their life experiences already contain the story of life, death and resurrection’ (p. 18). As we approach the feast of Pentecost we are being reminded to be open.Questions for staff meetings or classrooms: How have I been open to someone I don’t know or whose story, culture or religion is different? What was that encounter like?


Prayer is a powerful way to welcome the presence of God in our lives. The Awareness Examen, for instance, is a good way to deepen our awareness of the action and invitation of the Holy Spirit in our lives. This might be a focus in staff meetings, in classrooms or in individual prayer.

Another beautiful way to remember the Spirit of Pentecost during the day is the following prayer to the Holy Spirit:

Leader:      Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful, 
And enkindle in them the fire of your love.
Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created,
       And you shall renew the face of the earth.

Further references

Byrne, Brendan 2017, Scripture Commentary on the Liturgy Help website.

Ratzinger, Joseph 1998, ‘The Holy Spirit as Communio: Concerning the relationship of pneumatology and spirituality in Augustine’Communio: International Catholic Review, 25, Summer, 324–337.

Archbishop’s Letter

This year’s Pentecost Letter challenges young people to embrace the words of Pope Francis; ‘My friends, Jesus is the Lord of risk…Jesus is not the Lord of comfort, security and ease. Following Jesus demands a good dose of courage, a readiness to trade in the sofa for a pair of walking shoes and to set out on new and uncharted paths.’ (World Youth Day, Krakow 2016)

Archbishop Hart asks young people to consider the characteristics of real life heroes and what it means to live courageously in today’s world.

Archbishop Hart’s Pentecost Message to Youth from AOY on Vimeo.


Other Voices

Our Archdiocesan Office for Youth tells us that in taking courageous Gospel actions, you can discover God’s dream for you – indeed, his mission for your whole life. Do not be afraid for the Holy Spirit of courage is with you.

Watch and listen to the stories of these young people as they speak about their courage.

Watch and listen to secondary school students share the challenges of living their faith courageously today.

Melbourne students speak about courage from AOY on Vimeo.

Watch and listen to Michael’s sorty.  During high school, Michael was changed by the faith of his friends and the young people who reached out to him from the Youth Mission Team. He decided to give one year in full time service to other young people by joining the Youth Mission Team after he graduated.

Michael’s story: Courage to serve from AOY on Vimeo.

Watch and listen to Emma’s story.  As a university student in Sudan, Emma maintained her faith in an environment which was hostile to Christianity. When she witnessed to the joy of her faith by travelling to Rome as part of a choir, she faced suspicion which eventually led to her seeking asylum in Australia.

Huy’s story: Courage to discover God’s mission for your life from AOY on Vimeo.

Watch and listen to Huy’s story.  Huy grew up in Vietnam, and began thinking about studying for the priesthood as he was finishing high school. His vocational discernment led him to continue his studies in Australia, where he is discovering God’s unfolding mission for his life.

Emma’s story: Courage to witness from AOY on Vimeo.

Watch the video created by the Archdiocesan Office for Youth featuring words of Pope Francis addressed to young people. ‘Today is a time of mission and courage!’  Reflect on how you can take courage!

Pope Francis Speaks to You

Be Courageous prayer reflection from AOY on Vimeo.

Be Courageous: Liturgy

Pray the Archdiocesan Office for Youth Liturgy in your classroom or assembly that calls us all to be courageous.


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