The CRT Spotlight

CRT Spotlight #6: Mary Houser

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!

INTRODUCTION

Name:
Mary Houser

What teaching positions have you had and for how long?
6th-8th Grade Religion for 7 years

Where have you taught?
Overbrook Academy – Greenville, Rhode Island and Sacred Heart Catholic School – Florissant, Missouri

JUST FOR FUN

FAVORITE: Bible verse or story
“Give me some of that red stuff” (Gen 25:30) JK 😀 Too many to choose just one… but I love it when Jesus says my name (“Mary!”) to Mary Magdalen after the Resurrection

FAVORITE: Saint
St. Thérèse of Lisieux and St. Edmund Campion

FAVORITE: Christian work of art
Notre-Dame Basilica of Montreal. Breathtaking.

FAVORITE: Food
Anything with sugar

FAVORITE: Book (besides the Bible) 😁
Pride and Prejudice

FAVORITE: Movie
It’s a Wonderful Life, Lord of the Rings

FAVORITE: Vacation spot
The ocean

FAVORITE: Thing(s) to do in your free time
Sleep, pray, bake, go for a run, play with my nieces and nephews, binge random YouTube channels

FROM THE CLASSROOM

What do you enjoy most about being a Catholic religion teacher?
I love being able to share the love I have for our awesome Catholic faith with my students. My hope is that they will fall in love with Jesus like I have. To be able to call that my full-time job is a huge gift. I also just enjoy spending time with middle schoolers. They’re a lot of fun. 🙂

What religion topic/lesson do enjoy teaching the most?
I love taking the students to adoration and giving them quiet time with Jesus to let him speak to them. I also love teaching about the true meaning of the sacrifice of the Mass and unpacking a little bit of the tremendous mystery of the Eucharist. I’ve also really enjoyed teaching some of the confirmation lessons I got from CRT, specifically the chocolate milk one and the raincoat one.

What is something your students have taught you?
They have taught me that you never know which seeds you sow will bear fruit. Sometimes I feel like nothing is going in, only to realize later it was. Or sometimes they remember things I hardly even remember teaching! There have also been moments when my own prayer life was a bit dry or I was struggling with something, when a student approaches with a question or comment that shows their deep faith in Jesus, and it is hugely renewing for my own faith.

What is a “win” (story of success) that you have experienced through your role as a religion teacher?
Particularly from my many years teaching religion at a boarding school, it was wonderful to see students refer to a “before” and “after” in their life, and to see the lasting change that came about in their lives after the experience of Jesus they had during their year with us. For me, every time I see a student truly praying and trying to listen to God, that is a huge win.

What is a struggle or challenge you have experienced as a religion teacher?
I struggle to decide what to teach sometimes, and I also have the temptation not to take the time to make it really relevant and understandable for the students. CRT has been a godsend for both of those reasons!!!

What have you found to be most effective in helping your students develop a strong relationship with Christ and His Church?
Actually giving them time to pray for themselves has been key. No matter how many good things we tell them, if we don’t give them their own time of silence to start building a personal prayer life, it will remain somewhat surface-level. Sharing your own personal experience of God and enthusiasm for the faith is very helpful. And hand in hand with that, your students need to know that you care about them. The old adage, “They won’t care what you know, until they know that you care,” is for me the key for teaching middle schoolers.

What kind of advice or encouragement would you most want to share with a brand-new religion teacher?
Don’t worry about trying to have perfect lessons. God can work if you just trustingly give him the best five loaves and two fish you have. Share your heart, not just your knowledge. PRAY. My best lessons have come when I prayed for God to really work in my students’ hearts. And finally, make sure your students know you love them.

CONCLUSION

How can other teachers connect with you?
mhouser@shcs-flo.org

Categories: The CRT Spotlight

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