Religious Studies Curriculum

The Religious Studies Department uses a variety of creative lessons to help our students realize and explore the action of God in our lives.

Theology Comes Alive
With the help of the most up-to-date technology, upper division students examine issues of spirituality and vocation using works of literature and experiences that allow them to practice responsibility with real life situations. Our courses on spirituality, vocations, and sexuality help students develop and form their character.

Religions of the World
World Religions shows students other ways to see God by highlighting the world’s great religions and gives students the chance to explore the variety of cultural experiences within these traditions.

Exploration of Scripture
Whether a student has never studied the Bible before or considers themselves experts, the freshmen curriculum allows students to better know the ancestry of faith (for both Judaism and Christianity) in the study of the patriarchs, prophets, and kings of the Old Testament. The second semester of study highlights the mission of Jesus and our call to be living witnesses of the Gospel.

Not Words, But Deeds

Following the path of the foundress of the Sisters of Presentation, Nano Nagle, the other required courses (The Church: Mission and Sacrament, Moral Theology, and Social Justice) examine the important role of how our act of praising and worshipping God should translate to the way we live our lives on a daily basis.

Required Courses

Hebrew Scriptures

Freshman, Fall Semester

This semester will focus on the Bible, the living word of God, as revealed in the Hebrew Scriptures. The course will follow the Old Testament story of God’s love and faithfulness through the stories of the patriarchs, God’s desire for justice in the Exodus, Israel as a nation, and the prophets as spokespersons for God’s justice. The course will begin with a discussion of God as a loving creator.


Christian Scriptures

Freshman, Spring Semester

There are many questions we can ask about our relationship with Jesus of Nazareth. For example, what does Jesus' life, death and resurrection have to do with us? The relationship that Jesus calls his followers to is one that is committed to building the Kingdom of God. Students will be challenged to explore Jesus' call to relationship through prayer and spirituality rooted in and arising from Scripture. Lastly, the course will address a selection of New Testament letters, which give insight into the triumphs and challenges of the early Christian communities.


The Church: Mission & Sacrament

Grade: 10
Credits: 5

This one-semester course will study the earliest formations of the Church within the Christian Scriptures. Students will explore how the Church came to be structured the way it is, examine important theological beliefs the earliest Church councils articulated, and the mission of the Church in the world today.
The semester will also pay particular attention to the how and why behind the liturgical worship of the Catholic Church with an in depth study in the Sacraments. This study will explore the Scriptural roots of each Sacrament and the way they are celebrated today. Students will be encouraged to explore their own encounters and experiences with these graced moments.

Moral Theology

Grade: 11, 12 (This course is required for graduation.)
Credits: 5

This course studies and reflects upon the moral life. Christians experience the moral life as the way of Christ, which is above all the way of faith, hope and love. The class examines the common yearning of all human beings for happiness, and recognizes that the Ten Commandments and the Sermon on the Mount lead to authentic happiness. This course will explore moral issues in contemporary society and evaluate them from a Catholic Christian moral perspective.

Social Justice

Grade: 11, 12
Credits: 5

Social Justice is a one-semester religious studies department graduation requirement offered to juniors and seniors. The basic premise of the course is that we have been called by God to love one another in justice and righteousness. Our model for loving others and acting with justice is Jesus Christ, who offers us the gift of peace.

The course centers on the Christian vocation to build a society of love and justice in accord with the reign of God. We will explore the Catholic notion of justice, and key themes in Catholic social teaching, beginning with the fundamental moral ideal of human dignity. We will examine moral principles of Catholic social teaching as we study social injustices, including violence, exploitation, prejudice, racism, sexism, modern slavery, poverty and hunger.

Elective Courses

Christian Lifestyles

Grade: 11, 12
Credits: 5

Young adulthood is an important transitional period in every person’s life. This course is designed to help juniors and seniors define their lifestyle choices about whom they want to be, their work, money and possessions, sexuality, love, friendships and communication skills after they graduate from high school. Topics will include the following: Changes Ahead, Work, Loss and Healing, Love, Communication, Single Life, Money and Possessions, Sexuality, Friendship, Dating, Growth for Life, Religious Life/Vocations, Marrying and Aging.

Spirituality of the Saints

Grade: 11, 12
Credits: 5

Many people search for a spirituality to connect with in a deeply personal way. The saints of the Church wanted the same thing - a more meaningful relationship with God. This course is designed to introduce us to some of the saints and their ways of encountering God, and to help us learn how we might integrate their spirituality into everyday life and come to know God more. The course will use the primary writings of saints like St. Francis of Assisi, St. Teresa of Avila, St. Benedict, St. Catherine of Siena, St. Ignatius of Loyola, and many more. The primary aim of this course is for students to interact, read, reflect, and discuss the writings of extraordinary women and men who have built up the Church.

Human Sexuality

Grade: 11, 12
Credits: 5

This elective course is an exploration of the study of human sexuality as a gift of God to each and every human being. The units will take students from the physical (biological and psychological) through the spiritual (moral) points of view. The course will deal with sexuality as it is dealt with in modern science, contemporary society, scripture, and the teachings of the Church. Emphasis will be placed on helping students develop a healthy appreciation of their own sexuality and stress the importance of integrating values that promote self respect and integrity in both the way they reason and ultimately in the way they choose to live through each and every developmental stage. The course ideally will provide students with the accurate information needed to enable them to make healthy decisions in the face of the unrealistic and often unhealthy messages that bombard them in our society. The integration of students’ religious beliefs into their everyday life will be examined through case studies and Church documents such as Humane Vitae, The Truth and Morality of Human Sexuality, The Bishops Encyclical: Always Our Children and Catechetical Formation in Chaste Living.

Into Narnia: Spirituality in the 20th Century

Grade: 11-12
Credits: 5

What do people mean when they say spirituality? What should my spiritual life look like? Should my personal relationship with God interact with Church teaching? What does that look like? The Catechism of the Catholic Church proclaims that “a distinct spirituality can arise at the point of convergence of liturgical and theological currents, bearing witness to the integration of the faith into a particular human environment.” This class aims at developing a spirituality based on modern liturgical styles (e.g. prayer) and modern theological concepts and applying them to our current lives. The twentieth century has produced a wealth of spiritual witnesses who have helped individuals converge their personal beliefs, modern society, and a distinctive modern spirituality with the Tradition of the Church into our current environment. This class seeks to explore some of these witnesses and how their distinctive Christological beliefs and prayer methods can help to form our own spiritual lives in both faith (belief) and prayer.


We will be conversing with the fiction of C.S. Lewis and Flannery O’Connor engaging in how other worlds and challenging characters view creation, redemption, incarnation, forgiveness, death and the after-life, asceticism, grace, and sacrifice. The meditations of Thomas Merton, Mother Theresa, and Henri Nouwen will guide us into a challenging view of contemporary society and the role that contemplation and prayer play. The poetry of T.S. Eliot manifests these beliefs in artistic fashion forcing the reader to examine an image of God unfamiliar and awe-inspiring. These spiritual witnesses offer a unique perspective on a tradition two thousand years old; each offering a look at how to incorporate the living work of the Holy Spirit into our lives.

World Religions

Grade: 11, 12
Credits: 5

In our diverse local and global communities, it is increasingly important to have an understanding of the religions of the world. Understanding and appreciation is especially necessary in light of the number of conflicts that involve religion. The richness of religious variety, customs and culture can broaden and strengthen our own faith. This course surveys the world’s great religions including Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism, Confucianism, Taoism, Zen Buddhism, Shintoism, Judaism, Christianity and Islam. It examines their history, literature, beliefs and personalities in a comparative way, so qualities, both unique and shared, may be discovered.

Contact

Melissa Ursin
Religious Studies Chair
miursin@presentationhs.org