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Sketching the Sacraments

New catechetical videos offered online

By Jason Godin
Associate Editor, Fathers for Good

Classroom education no longer takes place just within physical walls. A Wi-Fi signal or a smartphone is all it takes today to access lessons once confined to pages of textbooks. What is learned can now be downloaded, interacted with, even shared with others online by anyone, at any time, from any place with the click of an icon or mouse.

Thanks to Sophia Institute Press, such virtual learning opportunities now include information about essential realities of Catholicism. Targeted toward primary and secondary school audiences, Sophia SketchPad encourages its users to “draw” lessons from online videos about the sacraments, beginning with the Eucharist, with plans for spots on Confession and Matrimony. The desire to deliver engaging forms of education is familiar to Charlie McKinney, president of Sophia Institute Press. He has served in the past as vice president for institutional advancement at Thomas More College of Liberal Arts, as well as in leadership positions at the Intercollegiate Studies Institute and Bill of Rights Institute in Washington, D.C.

Fathers for Good reached McKinney via email about this new teaching tool.

Fathers for Good: How does SketchPad fit into the Sophia Institute for Teachers initiative?

Charlie McKinney: Teachers are always looking for innovative ways to engage their students. We know that in secular markets, styles such as those we employed in SketchPad are very effective. They’re expensive, complicated and very time consuming. But they’re also highly effective. We want to take the most effective mediums being employed in the secular world and use them to help folks better understand — and faithfully live out — our Catholic faith.

We have published entire teacher’s guides on the sacraments, and the videos we are producing through SketchPad augment those materials. They’re not meant to replace the teacher, but they do offer the teacher important and effective tools for transmitting to their students the authentic teachings of the Church.

FFG: Your first video is on the Eucharist, with forthcoming videos on Confession and Matrimony. Should we expect all future titles to focus exclusively on the sacraments?

McKinney: So long as we can raise the funds, we will produce six to eight videos each year covering all aspects of the Catholic faith. We are focusing first on the sacraments because they are the chief source of grace. They form the foundation of Christian living, and so we felt it was important to focus first on forming minds about the importance and significance of the sacraments.

FFG: Although marketed primarily to teachers, can Sophia SketchPad help parents teach the faith to their children at home?

McKinney: Absolutely! The drawings and narrative style of the videos make them totally accessible for all ages, and parents will love watching them with their kids to help teach the faith. When I watched the Eucharist video with my own children, I loved to see their faces light up as the drawings came to life. After the video was over, I asked them what they learned, what surprised them and what their favorite parts were. The conversations that flowed from it were great, and after Mass last week we talked about it again. We’ve produced viewing guides that accompany the video. These guides enable parents or group leaders to ask questions that deepen the viewer’s understanding of the topic, whether that be a teacher’s student or a father’s son.

Visit here to learn more about Sophia SketchPad.