NCCL and FCH inspired by the movie, The STAR.









This six-part curriculum explores key elements from the first Christmas and everyday life, including: prayer, friendship, divine providence, vocation, the Christmas story and Las Posadas. Watch special movie clips from THE STAR as you learn how the characters helped each other and followed God’s destiny for their lives. Each lesson is packed with prayer, activities, Scripture, faith-sharing questions and times of reflection.

Download the Catholic Curriculum on TheStar website or on nccl.org in both English and Spanish.

Explore the parts of the Christmas Story as inspired by THE STAR.

One curriculum highlight on the theme “The Christmas Story”

Read the story of the Birth of Jesus, then create a “Nativity in a Bag.” Find an inexpensive, unbreakable Nativity set. Place all of the characters (Mary, Joseph, baby Jesus, shepherds, sheep, donkey, angel, etc.) in a bag or basket. After reading the Nativity story in the Bible, pass the bag/basket and invite each family member to select a character from the bag/basket. Once everyone has a character, invite them to re-tell the story of the Birth of Jesus from the viewpoint of their character. Encourage them to use their senses as they tell the story: What did they see? smell? hear? taste? touch or feel? What did they do? Who did they meet? Where did they go? How did they feel through their experiences?

DIVINE PROVIDENCE IS GOD’S GUIDANCE, GOD’S WISDOM IN OUR LIVES

One curriculum highlight on the theme “Divine Providence”

Abby, the little jerboa, witnesses Mary’s encounter with God’s angel. Mary accepts God’s invitation, trusting in God to take care of her. Abby immediately begins to spread the good news that she’s heard.  As the animals see the star, they know that it means something. The star is a symbol of God’s Presence and action in the world.  In THE STAR, after Mary tells Joseph what God has asked of them, Joseph is overwhelmed and needs time to think and pray about everything that’s happening. Sometimes God leads us in unexpected ways. We may need time to take it all in. It’s important for us to talk with other trusted people to help us discern God’s will for us.  Sometimes life gets hard and it is difficult to know and live according to God’s will. In the movie, there is a scene when Mary and Joseph argue after experiencing difficulty on their journey.  Mary walks away. Joseph prays, then goes to Mary and apologizes. Mary responds that it’s not always easy to follow God’s plan. We may get frustrated and scared, but if we continue to trust in God, he will see us through our difficulties.  Bo, Dave, Ruth, Mary, Joseph, and all the characters experienced God’s presence in and through one another. God often moves in our lives through the words and interactions with other people.

Faithful friends are a sturdy shelter; whoever finds one finds a treasure. ~ SIRACH 6:14

One curriculum highlight on the theme “Friendship”

Friends care about one another. They respect each other. They listen to one another. They want what’s best for one another. They stand by and support each other.

Consider the friendship between Bo, the donkey, and Dave, the dove, in THE STAR. They are very different, but friends often are very different. Still, each individual brings something to the friendship. Dave visits Bo in the mill and brings him the town news. They enjoy being together, and they dream of joining the Royal Caravan and of doing something important with their lives. Dave helps Bo develop a plan to escape and then promises he’ll wait for him when it doesn’t work out.  

Faithful friends journey with us through good times and bad. We can depend on them no matter what. In THE STAR, we see this is true for Bo, Dave, and Ruth as they set out on a wondrous adventure. Their friendship provides an example of the virtues and qualities of good friendships particularly when trying to solve problems.

My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my savior.” ~ LUKE 1:46-47

One curriculum highlight on the theme, “Prayer”

In the Catholic faith, we pray both communally and personally. We pray in communion with others primarily in the Mass, but also when we share in prayers such as the Rosary, Divine Mercy Chaplet, and intercessory prayer. We pray personally whenever we turn our hearts to God, whether it be in formal prayer like the Our Father or in simple conversation with God.  

In our daily lives we have many conversations with family, friends and others in the community. Our conversations can vary from being very informal, such as hanging out with friends, to a formal conversation with a professional such as a doctor, teacher or judge. Different situations call for different actions, speech, and body language. Many times through our life’s journey we turn to prayer: when we are broken and hurting, facing uncertain or challenging times, being repentant for something we have done, or feeling grateful for something we have received.

There are different postures for prayer. Sometimes we stand. Sometimes we kneel. Sometimes we sit. Sometimes we hold our hands up to heaven or fold them near our hearts. We can even walk and pray. We bow our heads. We hold hands with others when we pray with them. 

In the Liturgical cycle, days are identified by different liturgical colors, allowing us to pray with certain purpose, i.e. a Church season or for a particular saint or martyr.

And she gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. ~ LUKE 2:7

One curriculum highlight on the theme, “Las Posadas”

THE STAR is about a journey. Mary and Joseph journey from Bethlehem to Nazareth. Bo, Dave, and Ruth follow Mary and Joseph, protecting them from The Hunter and the dogs. The camels and the Wise Men follow the star to Jerusalem, then Bethlehem.  On their journeys, the characters experience difficulties and encounter moments of God’s grace. They grow in their trust of God, especially in their struggles.

The tradition of Las Posadas reminds us that we can trust God in our journey through life. God is always with us, guiding us and watching over us, just as God watched over Mary and Joseph on their journey. Just as God watched over Mary and Joseph, so too God watches over us.

We are gifted with moments to recognize God’s presence through unexpected gestures of goodness, in ways that seem unimaginable prior to our experience of them. This is God’s grace.

There are different kinds of spiritual gifts but the same Spirit; there are different forms of service but the same Lord… ~ 1 CORINTHIANS 12:4-5

One curriculum highlight on the theme, “Vocations”

THE STAR is about a journey. Mary and Joseph journey from Bethlehem to Nazareth. Bo, Dave, and Ruth follow Mary and Joseph, protecting them from The Hunter and the dogs. The camels and the Wise Men follow the star to Jerusalem, then Bethlehem.  On their journeys, the characters experience difficulties and encounter moments of God’s grace. They grow in their trust of God, especially in their struggles.

The tradition of Las Posadas reminds us that we can trust God in our journey through life. God is always with us, guiding us and watching over us, just as God watched over Mary and Joseph on their journey. Just as God watched over Mary and Joseph, so too God watches over us.

We are gifted with moments to recognize God’s presence through unexpected gestures of goodness, in ways that seem unimaginable prior to our experience of them. This is God’s grace.The word “vocation” comes from the Latin word vocare, meaning “to call.” In the document Lumen Gentium, we are reminded of the universal call to holiness in the Church. This call to holiness is for the fullness of Christian life. “Be holy, as your heavenly Father is holy.” (Matthew 5:48) This holiness is accomplished when we wholeheartedly live out the will of God.

The Scriptures reveal to us how much God loves us and desires us to be in communion with Him so that we may live out our vocation.
• Genesis 1:27-31 tells us that God has created each human person in God’s image and likeness and that this creation is very good.
• Psalm 139 prayerfully reminds us that God has created us out of God’s great love. God will, therefore, guide us and keep us close to God.
• Isaiah 49 reminds us that even before we were born God called us and chose us for a specific plan.
• Matthew 5 reminds us that we are called to be light for the world.

Throughout his first letter to the Corinthians, Saint Paul writes that all the faithful make up the Body of Christ, so we all need to do our part to establish the fullness of God’s plan.  These Scriptures point to the reality that God made us in God’s image for a very specific purpose.  We have been made for greatness, to be an example of God’s love for the world. God calls each of us to live according to God’s will for us, to live out the vocation for which God created us.

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NCCL and FCH Embark On A Journey

NCCL and FCH Collaborate with Sony Entertainment Productions to Provide Catholic Family Curriculum for the Animated Movie The Star

In June I was asked to think about Christmas. Isn’t that the life of a minister? We are always seasons ahead of the liturgical year. But this request intrigued me. It involved creating a family curriculum for Sony’s animated movie The Star, to be released on November 17th. Could we create a family catechetical experience based on this movie, unpacking key themes of Advent and Christmas through Scripture readings, Catholic Tradition, and cultural traditions? Could we provide conversations starters that might allow families to have faith conversations in a unique way this season? Could we use a secular Christmas movie as an entry point toward evangelization efforts? The answer was a resounding YES!

Six members of the National Conference of Catechetical Leaders (NCCL) said yes to the task, and in collaboration with the FCH Leadership Team, secured additional members to serve as the editor and translator for the content. The writing team collaborated throughout July and August, viewing early production of the movie, with only a little music, and some parts of the movie still just storyboard. From our earliest conversations the curriculum began to take shape. We unpacked the Christmas story through the animated characters, through Scripture, and Tradition; reflecting on Mary’s yes, and on her trust in God’s Divine Providence; through the friendship of the animals, and the loyalty of Bo to Mary, and Joseph to Mary, which expressed the virtues of our best relationships. We related the movements of this story to the cultural traditions and customs surrounding Christmas, the tradition of the crèche and nativity scenes and through the tradition of Las Posadas. We reflected on prayer in the movie (Mary’s, Joseph’s, and Bo’s), on how we pray, and on learning to pray. And finally we explored vocation, discerning God’s plan for our lives. This is treated beautifully in the movie, as Bo (the main character) knows he is created for something great, but his idea of greatness might be described as worldly - before his encounter with Mary, Joseph, and Jesus. These family lessons offer catechetical and pastoral leaders, and families, new and varied ways to explore the Christmas story. Every lesson follows a “know, act, pray” structure. Leaders can gather families to explore the themes, or can connect with families via digital means. All lessons are on the movie’s website and on nccl.org in both English and Spanish.

In November Sony Entertainment Productions invited the writing team, editor, and FCH leadership, to Hollywood to the red-carpet premiere of The Star. We were thrilled to see the movie in its final form, sitting in the theater with so many people who were part of its creation. Cheers erupted in the theater on numerous occasions, like when Mary presents the baby to his visitors (wisemen, shepherds and animals) and proclaims, “His name is Jesus.” We cheered; we laughed (a lot); and we cried. The movie is heartwarming and hopeful, and will be loved by audiences for years to come. Help spread some Christmas cheer! Go see The Star and then explore our Catholic faith through the curriculum provided by this NCCL/FCH/Sony collaboration. Bear witness to the greatest story ever told... Jesus Christ is born.

~ Denise Utter

Additional resources are also available on the movie’s website. And still more activities can be found on their Pinterest page.

  • Jackie Hopper and Tish Scargill with Director of The STAR, Timothy Reckart

  • Writers of the Catholic Curriculum, Tish Scargill, Jackie Hopper, Denise Utter and Joseph Horejs (with his beautiful daughter) attending the Red Carpet Premiere of The STAR.

  • NCCL and FCH receive this invitation to the Red Carpet Premiere.

  • Denise Utter and her husband, Robert Utter, attending the Red Carpet Premiere of The STAR.

  • Joseph Horejs and his daughter celebrate her birthday at the Red Carpet Premiere of The Star.

Writing Team for Catholic Curriculum, Inspired by The STAR:

Jason Coito, Diocesan Staff - Archdiocese of Los Angeles

Mary Heinrich, Staff - Catechesis of the Good Shepherd and Parish Catechetical Leader - Diocese of Des Moines

Jackie Hopper, Diocesan Director - Diocese of Boise

Joseph Horejs, Diocesan Staff - Diocese of San Diego

Tish Scargill, Diocesan Director - Diocese of Monterey

Denise Utter, Parish Catechetical Leader - Diocese of Joliet

Editor:

Teri Burns, Parish Catechetical Leader - Diocese of Grand Rapids

FCH Leadership:

Miriam Hidalgo, President of the Federation for Catechesis with Hispanics (FCH) & Diocesan Director - Archdiocese of Hartford

Martha Marin, FCH - Spanish Translator

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