An Option for the Poor and Vulnerable

Every person needs food, water, work, housing, 
school, and medical care. Those who do not have these are poor. Our Church teaches that these brothers and sisters must be treated with extra respect and extra care and given what they need. Those who are not poor must share what they have with the others.

Articles with Study Guides

 Article Study Guide Date
Expanding the Maasai Horizon6-12Apr 2012
Children of MyanmarOption for the Poor, Spirituality SeriesK-5Apr 2012
Inside the BoxK-5 / 6-12Mar 2012
Stretching the Heart6-12Feb 2012
Troubadour of CompassionK-5Feb 2012
A Famous Good Reputation 
Related Video: Maryknoll’s Father Thomas O’Brien leads local team helping the neediest in Vietnam. Produced by Sean Sprague.

Jan 2012
Water, Love and Mission in TapacariK-5 / 6-12 Nov 2011
Giving them a ChanceK-5 / 6-12 Sept 2011
Beautiful Little PumpkinsK-5 / 6-12 Feb 2011
Answering the Call to Combat Trafficking6-12Dec 2010
Human Touch in MeridaK-5 / 6-12Jan 2011
One Lamp Lights AnotherK-5 / 6-12Nov 2010
Wellspring in the DesertK-5 / 6-12Sept 2010
The Bicycle DiscipleK-5 / 6-12Apr 2010
To Live as Jesus DidK-5 / 6-12Mar 2010
Lost and FoundK-5 / 6-12Feb 2010
Miracle in MymensinghK-5 / 6-12Nov 2009
Haruma Means CompassionK-5 / 6-12May 2009
Autobiography of Faith and HopeK-5 / 6-12Nov 2008
Defender of the Poor, Spirituality SeriesK-5/ 6-12Dec 2012

Additional Activities 
ActivitySource ArticleGrade(s)
The Math in MissionSaving the Rains of Africa3-6
Calendar of Mission WorkSaving the Rains of Africa3-6
Various ActivitiesThe Good Samaritans of OaxacaK-12
Essay TopicsDwelling in the Kingdom7-12

 Book Suggestion:

Picture books or short chapter books for younger students:

Addy Learns a Lesson: Connie Porter (American Girl series)

Beatrice’s Goat: Page McBrier

Boxes for Katje: Candice Fleming

The Butterfly: Patricia Polacco

December: Eve Bunting

Delores Huerta, A Hero to Migrant Workers: Sarah Warren

Fly Away Home: Eve Bunting

The Goat Lady: Jane Bregoli

Harvesting Hope: Kathleen Krull

The Lady in the Box: Ann McGovern

The Mangrove Trees: Planting Trees to Feed Families. By Susan L. Roth

Meet Addy: Connie Porter (American Girl series)

One Hen: How One Small Loan Made a Big Difference. By Katie Smith Milway

The Quiltmaker’s Gift: Jeff Brumbeau

Sam and the Lucky Money: Karen Chinn

Samantha Learns a Lesson: Susan S. Adler (American Girl series)

The Sparkle Box: Jill Hardie

White Water: Michael Bandy and Eric Stein

You and Me and Home Sweet Home: George Ella Lyon

Chapter Books or picture books for older students:

Free the Children: Craig Kielburger

Good Night, Mr. Tom: Michelle Magorian

Me to We, Finding Meaning in a Material World: Craig and Marc Kielburger

No Ordinary Day: Deborah Ellis

Trash: Andy Mulligan

The Upstairs Room: Johanna Reiss

We’ve Got a Job: The 1963 Birmingham Children’s March. By Cynthia Levinson


Supplemental Articles

Peace through Soccer
July/August 2011
Lay Missioner Larry Parr began a soccer program in a small community in El Salvador to give kids an alternative to the gang culture in their area.All grades
Liberation in Ecuador
July/August 2011
Sister Elsie Monge has spent years standing with the oppressed and fighting for human rights. This article explores the challenges faced by people in Ecuador, and also the progress that has been made. Best in conjunction with history of Central America 1970's-80's.
(Caution: mature topics such as torture and kidnapping covered)
Building the City of God
January/February 2011
Sister Margaret Rose Ibe works with the diocesan Human Dignity Commission towards human development in an area of Peru with great poverty and high unemployment. Volunteers also play a significant role in educating others about children's/women's rights, ethics, labor rights, self-esteem, and conflict resolution.7-12
Dwelling in the Kingdom
October 2010
This interview with Lay Missioner Coralis Salvador shows the creative ways she works with families affected by AIDS, and the strength and ingenuity of the caregivers of the many orphans; also offers Salvador's wisdom on spirituality and mission.
4 -12 
Keeping Hope Alive
November 2008
This is short but packed with information exploring what is "an option for the poor and vulnerable." Includes a story on a person given these options who is now making them available to others. It can easily be paraphrased for K-6.K-12
Living What We've Learned
December 2008
A short article that succinctly sums up different principles of Catholic Social Teachings with clear examples. This also shows the connection between CST and how national polices can be formed for the common good, along with prayer!
Learning from Anawim
March 2009
Father Donald McQuade tells of an experience he had in the Philippines. When a family of subsistence farmers approached him because of the death of their child, he saw their great poverty, lack of resources and humble faith. He calls us to look radically at our own priorities and pray for guidance. Use this story to help students become aware of those with no resources and God's love for these anawim. Then invite your students to pray with you.
From Magazine to Mission 
November 2009
Victoria Iaconis and her fiance attended a Maryknoll Youth Day and got their picture on the cover of Maryknoll  Magazine. This led to a letter asking Victoria, a speech therapist, to spend two weeks in Nicaragua. Using her skills, Victoria helped many people and in turn had a life-changing experience. While she is not a student, her decision to  plunge into a mission situation as a young professional is reflective and challenging. It can be inspirational to students. 4-12
The Mission of Charity
May/June 2010
Saint Theresa Opportunity Center in Taiwan is a vibrant place for people with disabilities, from infancy to adulthood. Director Mei-Hua Yang (also named Charity) is enthusiastic about her work and credits Father Brendan O'Connell with bringing the concept of inclusivity and special education to Taiwan.6-12
Feeling the Earth Beneath His Feet
September 2010
Father Thomas Burns' commitment to mission and social justice has led him down a harrowing path at times. When Peru was wracked by violence in the 1980's and 1990's, he survived threats to his safety and later post traumatic stress disorder. His passionate struggles for justice have resulted in great accomplishments. 7-12
Our Immigrant Neighbors 
October 2010
Maryknoll Affiliate Ann Coady had a Peace Corps experience as a young adult. She always planned to go back, but her life kept her in the United States. Still mission work continually "found" her in ways she could never have anticipated, in numerous and varied situations. K-12
Climate Justice for All
January 2010
At a United Nations summit on climate change in 2009, Catholic lay and religious leaders advocated for poor and vulnerable people. Information in this article will open discussions on what are individual and group responsibilities in caring for the earth, views of religious people from varying parts of the world, what kind of numbers of people have already been affected by climate change disasters. 6-12
Saving the Rains of Africa
July/August 2008   
This tells of the varied work of Fr. John Lange in both rural and urban Kenya. His main focus is on water availability. The article could lead to discussions on water usage and importance, tremendous poverty in slums, dignity of people and use of money. Note: the sidebar story, "Danger in a Day's Work" describes a violent incident.4-12
Graduation in El Cedro
May/June 2009
Lay Missioners Erick and Margaret Cambier work to offer learning opportunities to children and adults in El Salvador. This article helps readers think about education: how much do you value it if it difficult to get, what would you be willing to undertake to get an education, what might it mean to only finish 9th grade? K-12
The Good Samaritans of Oaxaca
July/August 2009
The Center for Migrant Orientation opened in Oaxaca, Mexico in 2003, a result of a joint pastoral letter of Mexican and United States Bishops calling for compassion for migrants. Situations of migrant people vary, as does the assistance offered to them, but compassion and care is similar to the Samaritan and the innkeeper of Luke 10:25-37.7-12
Down from Paradise
September 2009
Former gang members from Honduras work with Father Thomas Goekler to establish a Catholic Worker House in an area of Guatemala City, where "poverty is not an option." Goekler speaks of systemic poverty and they all work to develop situations where people have opportunities to flourish. This offers discussion opportunities on poverty, justice, responsibility, as well as recognizing one's own values and choices.7-12