Kevin is a 3rd grade CCD student at Mary Assumption Catholic Church in Avondale, LA. Like any children his age, he is talkative and helpful. In the classroom, when everyone is silent, Sr. Kim Dung, FMSR, points out pictures of the vessels used at Eucharistic Celebration. After that, each student gathers in their assigned group and cut out pictures of the vessels and label them as instructed by Sr. Kim Dung. After the class, I had a conversation with Kevin.
1. What do you want to be when you grow up?
Kevin: I want to be a cop so I can give out tickets.
2. What do you do at home?
Kevin: I help out my dad.
3. What does your dad do?
Kevin: He does everything.
4. So he is a handy man?
Kevin: No, he just does everything and I help him put the cross bar when he lays down tiles on the floor.
5. What did you learn in CCD class today?
Kevin: I learn about a ciborium and it’s a dish to hold Jesus during mass.
Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, abbreviated as CCD, is a religious education program of the Roman Catholic Church. The program provides catholic education to children. CCD classes are mostly held on the weekend. CCD education is provided by members of the clergy and lay staff.
I was honored with the opportunity to attend one of the CCD classes held here at Mary Assumption Church in Avondale. At approximately 3:30pm the bell rang signaling students to file in to the common room. Each sat by their designated class identified by a wooden post which identifies their grade. When all was silent, Sr. Dinh Ha, director of CCD, spoke to the children about “active participation” at mass. When the priest greets: “the Lord be with you”; then everyone should answer “and with your spirit”. “Don’t remain silent”, Sr. Ha said. After Sr. Ha finished, Mr. Van summarized and explained further: “How would you feel if one of your friends say hi to you and you give them the silent treatment. Same with God, he’s saying hi to you and out of courtesy should reply. If you are a good friend, you would acknowledge the greeting”. After the meeting in the common room, each student filed in a single line to walk to their assigned class and started learning about the Catholic Faith.
I was invited to sit in Mr. Van’s classroom. Mr. Van is one of 20 instructors who volunteers to teach CCD classes on the weekend at Mary Assumption Church in Avondale. Mr. Van is the instructor for pre confirmation students. There are 9 students. The subject for the day was Moral Issues and the Ten Commandments. He explained in simple terms and language about the 10 Commandments. Case scenarios were presented and he asked each of them to resolve the conflicting issues presented in the case study. Much of the issues are not “black or white”, not an easy task to solve. He showed them the steps to solving these moral issues, especially the ones that fall in the gray area. Each student has their own space on the wall in the classroom. After each class, they are to pin on their own wall what they learned each week via a drawing, a poem, or a quote. And this week was the 10 Commandments for Teens!
At 13yrs old, Mr. Van was recruited by the Holy Rosary Sisters to help children memorize the catholic prayers like: the 10 Commandments, the 8 Golden Rules, the 7 Sacraments… From 1993-1997 Mr. Van joined the Salesians of Don Bosco in California. In 1998 he returned to New Orleans and landed at Archbishop Blank H.S. and taught 10th graders while going to school to obtain his BA in 2001. From 2001-2005 he taught at the Audubon Montesorri School in New Orleans. He rejoined the Salesians in 2005 and acted as their librarian. In 2012, he came back here to Avondale and taught at Phoebe Hearst which is where he is at present. He received Teacher of the Year 2 times. Recruited by Sr. Ha Dinh, Mr. Van volunteers to teach CCD on the weekends. This year, he teaches pre-confirmation students. He enjoys teaching and guiding young people. He believes CCD classes are strong and valuable opportunities for children to learn about God and reach a spiritual level not offered in public school. He hopes to join the Salesians again in the future.
Thank you Mr. Van and all the CCD teachers! You are very generous of your time and talent. You cared enough to volunteer and pass on the Catholic Faith to younger generations.
Good teachers do not just happen
they are the highest of personal motivation!