James Kresta: It’s such a joy to be able to sit down with you and talk about the Virtue Program and all that you’re doing with the Dominican Sisters. As a former student, but also now as a father and as a husband, Natalie and I, with our own kids, have found this to be such a blessing. Thank you so much for answering the call and making this happen. Where would someone who’s interested in [using the Virtue Program] begin? Sister John Dominic: There are the Virtue Cards and then also there’s the Virtue Chart pack which has four resources. The first one is Happiness is Living a Virtuous Life, and that’s an examination of conscience based on the virtue. The next one is the Remain in Me chart, which has a great overview. For example, if you’re preparing for Confirmation, you need to know everything, and it is all right there on the front. Then on the backside is the virtue tree, which shows how the virtues grow together organically. The other larger chart that opens up is called the Disciple of Christ Virtues Chart, and this is based on the moral virtues, or the Cardinal Virtues, and they’re color-coded just like the Virtue Cards are color-coded. With each of the Cardinal or Moral Virtues, it has listed related virtues, and then on the backside of the card, we have it according to age level. How you lead a six-year-old would be different as you may give advice to your younger brother, so we divide it between age levels to give examples of practical ways that that virtue could be cultivated and show practical ways to teach the virtue. I recommend, if you want to get into it and dig deeper, you can get the Educator’s Guide. I think teachers need this to guide themselves. I took all this information from St. Thomas Aquinas’ Summa. I would then move to Lectio Divina. This is this prayerful reading of Scripture that has been a tradition of the Church for centuries. I took the Lectio Divina method and put questions together. We would put it in a journal format where the students could read the Scripture and then there are questions to help them unpack it. We also put artwork with every passage. Like with the Virtue cards, we did it looks like/sounds like, so there’s a picture of what this Gospel passage looks like so they can make this connection between this visual and the Scripture passage.
These materials are for those in about fifth grade, sixth grade, and up. I’m told oftentimes by adults, “Write at a fifth or sixth-grade level, and then we’ll be able to do it too.” I hit every audience. On our website educationinvirtue.com, there’s also a section for educators. We’ve put a PDF of things that they can download and make copies of and use that in their classroom.