The CRT Spotlight

CRT Spotlight #5: Justin Matelski

CRT Spotlights are intended to encourage and inspire fellow teachers of the faith. Know a religion teacher who deserves to be featured? Please send me their name and e-mail address via my Contact page. Thanks!


Justin Matelski

What teaching positions have you had and for how long?
10th Grade Religion Teacher for 12 years, 12th Grade Religion Teacher for 8 years, 11th Grade Religion Teacher for 4 Years, 9th Grade Religion Teacher for 3 years, 6th Grade Religion Teacher for 1 year

Where have you taught?
Archbishop Shaw High School – Marrero, Louisiana, Academy of Holy Angels – Richfield, Minnesota, Saint Thomas Academy – Mendota Heights, Minnesota


FAVORITE: Bible verse or story
The Annunciation – Luke 1:26-38

Saint John Bosco and Saint Thomas Aquinas

FAVORITE: Christian work of art
Eustache Le Sueur – The Annunciation

Cajun Boiled Crawfish!

FAVORITE: Book (besides the Bible) 😁
Lord of the Rings


FAVORITE: Vacation spot
Glacier National Park


What do you enjoy most about being a Catholic religion teacher?
When students come to understand the connections between the various topics we cover. It becomes something they “KNOW” instead of just information they possess.

What religion topic/lesson do enjoy teaching the most?
The relationship between Faith and Reason (Aquinas’ 5 Ways)

What is something your students have taught you?
They constantly teach me about how there is nothing new under the sun. The calendar changes, but the interests and proclivities of students remain the same!

What is a “win” (story of success) that you have experienced through your role as a religion teacher?
Seeing students from years past who say something like “Remember when we were talking about…” and you realize it stuck with them in a big way.

What is a struggle or challenge you have experienced as a religion teacher?
We teach grade levels, which means some students have been in Catholic school their whole lives and had parents who brought them to mass every Sunday, as well as some students who have NO vocabulary or experience to draw upon. If those students are in the same class, it makes the pacing challenging.

What have you found to be most effective in helping your students develop a strong relationship with Christ and His Church?
Saint John Bosco said that it isn’t enough for you to love your students, they need to KNOW that they are loved. Taking an interest in what your students love and being genuine about your interest in them as individuals is the basis of evangelization. We are “types” for Christ in that way.

What kind of advice or encouragement would you most want to share with a brand-new religion teacher?
Don’t neglect your prayer life and don’t expect things to happen overnight. We are in the long term harvest business, so stay consistent and remember that they are children of God with reason and free will. Respect that.


Anything else you’d like to add?
I have the best job in the world. I get to talk about Church teaching all day, everyday.

How can other teachers connect with you?
Twitter: @justinmatelski

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