Tapestry of Faith: Heeding the Call: A Program on Justicemaking for Junior High School Youth

Activity 3: Presente Litany

Activity time: 20 minutes

Materials for Activity

  • Chalice, candle, lighter or LED/battery-operated candle
  • Music player and audio of calming music
  • Leader Resource 1, Presente Litany Opening
  • Leader Resource 2, Names for Presente Litany
  • Nametags with first and last names for participants and leaders
  • Justicemakers Guide, if using Option 1

Preparation for Activity

  • Print one copy of Leader Resource 2, Names for Presente Litany, and cut the names into individual strips.
  • If your chalice has been extinguished for safety reason, choose someone to relight it while you read Leader Resource 1, Presente Litany Opening.

Description of Activity

Youth explore the importance of appreciating the work of those who have joined in past struggles for justice and participate in a ritual that recognizes their own continuing contributions.

Begin playing the CD and gather participants in a circle around the lit chalice. Say that one way that leaders lead is by example. Distribute the names from Leader Resource 2, Names for Presente Litany. If you have more names than participants, leaders can read the extra names. Tell participants that these are the names of people whose stories have been told in the workshops. They are all social justice leaders.

Explain that the group will participate in a Presente Litany. Explain that "presente" means "present" in Spanish, and the Presente Litany has been used in Latin America for centuries as a way to commemorate the lives and contributions of people, especially those who have been killed by acts of political repression. A Presente Litany honors social justice activists by acknowledging that they are with you in spirit as you continue to work for justice. A Presente Litany can also be an opportunity to honor those who are alive and working for justice.

Explain to the group that the ceremony will open with a reading. Then leaders will read the name on their slip of paper and ask youth to go around the circle, starting to the left, and read the names on their slips of paper. After each name is read, the group responds with "Presente."

Read Leader Resource 1, Presente Litany Opening, and read the first name. Proceed until all names have been read. After everyone has shared, say:

During our time together, we have heard stories about people committing to actions-big and small-that have helped make the world a better, more just place. You have also committed to actions-in the workshops and in the Justicemakers Guide-that oppose oppression and work for justice. We hope you will continue that work. Please take a moment and think of one action you can take to show responsible leadership. It does not have to be big. Perhaps you plan to sit at the lunch table with new people at school or kids who do not speak English. Perhaps you plan to continue your ally work. Perhaps you are going to join a club at your school that does good work. Maybe you plan to become a doctor and help sick people in impoverished countries or a social worker who helps foster children.

I will sound a chime to open the time for silent reflection. When I sound the chime the second time, I invite you to share your commitment with the group. After you share, we will all say your name and "presente." If you do not wish to share, that is okay, too. Just raise your hand and we will say your name and "presente."

When all have shared, it is an appropriate time for the facilitators to give a personal thanks to the group for all their contributions. This would also be a good time to wrap up the work participants have done in their Justicemakers Guide by inviting them to write messages to one another on the last page of the guide, much as they would with a yearbook, if you are using hardcopy guides. If you are using electronic guides, invite youth to send messages of appreciation to one another.