Before the pipe was installed, Thandolwayo would miss school because she had to walk over 5 km a day to collect water. Now she is able to spend more time at school, and hopes to become a nurse. Photo: Richard Wainwright/Caritas Australia.



What is authentic power?

Teacher introduction

By the end of this unit, students will have explored what it means to be a leader. They will have developed an awareness of leaders in our world, and the qualities they possess to be just leaders – which is one way of standing in solidarity with our one human family. Students will also have an understanding of true discipleship, and Jesus’ call to servant leadership.

Teachers, before you start:

  1. Watch the CST ‘Solidarity’ film and familiarise yourself with the pause point and other stopping points listed in this lesson suggestion.
  2. Download the various resources referenced at the bottom of this page (worksheets, slides, etc.) and have them ready to go on your computer/interactive whiteboard.
  3. Familiarise and decide on the use of online or app technologies.

Learn - Focus

Leadership values mapping.

ALL Years

Watch Caritas Australia’s ‘Solidarity’ film, which focuses on how being leaders for justice is one way of standing in solidarity with our one human family.

Teacher’s note: Church’s teaching on Solidarity

Solidarity is an essential stance of faith and a feature of moral consciousness recognizing that we belong to one human family. One demand of such membership is the responsibility to participate in the building up of community and the fostering of unity. Solidarity invites such participation and awareness at all levels and across all borders. We have mutual obligations to promote the rights and development of all people across communities, nations, and the world, irrespective of national boundaries. Solidarity is a way of “being with” our sisters and our brothers around the globe. (Education for Justice)

Years 7-8: Role models

Students reflect on who they turn to for advice and who their role models are by completing the Caritas role models worksheet. Encourage them to think of people whose values they admire and who they would most like to emulate. 

Students pair up or form small groups and choose one role model between them. They decide on a good way to share their response with the class:

  • make an illustrated poster (to make this interactive, students could use Glogster) and give an oral presentation;
  • prepare a role play where they ‘interview’ one or more of the role models about their lives;
  • write a story about a role model for a school magazine or blog.

Extension activity: Students complete the chart in the Caritas worksheet with themselves listed as the ‘role model’. They must list their own qualities and how they can use them to help others.

Adapted from: Australian Catholics/Jesuit Social Services.

Years 9-10: Just leaders

Either stop the film at the pause point or watch the film to the end and then display slide 1. In small groups, students discuss the pause point question and name at least one leader in each category (company, country and their community). Would they say that these are ‘leaders for justice’? Why/why not?

Optional: Students watch the Archbishop of Perth’s video address (45mins) “Youth Lead for Justice: Catholic Leadership for the 21st Century”, which illustrates the qualities of a good leader. In this speech, the Archbishop gives and expands on eight leadership quotes. He then reflects on Jesus’ leadership qualities and gives four lessons that we can learn from His example.

Students use the  Caritas Be More Bios and the  summary of the Archbishop’s speech to research ‘just leaders’ and assess what values and qualities these just leaders demonstrate; students complete the Caritas  Leadership Values worksheet accordingly.

Teacher’s note: For additional examples of just leadership by First Australians, take a look at the NAIDOC Week Award Winners profiles.

In the same groups, students discuss:

  • How are these 'just leaders' similar/different to the three leaders they named at the pause point?
  • How did reading the various biographies make you feel?
  • What made the most impact on you? Why?
  • What do these people inspire you to do?

Extension activities:

  • Students summarise ‘just leadership’ in one sentence and create a class video montage. Watch this example, featuring six students from Perth commenting on the qualities of a good leader.
  • Students take the four leadership lessons from Jesus as outlined in the Archbishop’s speech and research current day examples of these lessons in practice. For instance, when Pope Francis washed the feet of prisoners.
  • Conduct a gifts/talent inventory. On a big sheet of paper, invite students to write down all their gifts and talents. Look at the quantity and quality of the gifts within your classroom! What can be done with these gifts for others?

ALL years

Introduce the inquiry: Display the poster and explain that as a class you are going to explore the CST principle of Solidarity, through the specific lens of being leaders for justice. The ‘big question’ of “What is authentic power?” is linked to this through the question of true discipleship and authentic power being about service leadership (cf. Pope Francis’s quote on the poster – “Let us never forget that authentic power is service.”

Learn - Explore

What is true discipleship?

ALL years

Pope John Paul II called all young people to live as Christ’s disciples. Being a leader for justice is the same as being a true disciple: it is a response to our understanding of the call to love as Jesus loved. The Greek term for disciple, μαθητής (mathētēs), refers generally to any “student,” “pupil,” “apprentice,” or “adherent.” Discipleship means much more than just the transfer of information, however. It refers to imitating the teacher’s life, inculcating his values, and reproducing his teachings.

Years 7-8: Jesus’ call to discipleship

Students are explicitly taught about the call to discipleship. Students conduct Scripture hunts using the Scripture references given. 

Early in his earthly ministry Jesus called a certain twelve men to be with him and to follow him; we call them the twelve disciples or apostles. Many other men and women were also followers of Jesus, but these twelve are the people who went everywhere with Jesus throughout his three years of earthly ministry. We too are called to be disciples of Jesus. What does that mean?

First and foremost, discipleship is about being with Jesus – about coming to know him and walk with him. (Matt 4:19; Mark 3:14;  Luke 14:25-35; 1 Corinthians 1:9; Philippians 3:10).

In turn, this leads us to be like him. Think about it – the more you spend time with certain people, the more you become like them. How many times have you caught yourself using the same phrase a good friend uses? Or perhaps you watch a certain TV show or read a magazine because a friend has recommended it? It follows that the more time we spend meditating on who Jesus is, what his teachings are and how he wants us to live our lives, we will begin to live and act more like Jesus. (2 Cor 3:18; 1 Cor 1:9; Philippians 3:10-11; Luke 6:40; John 13:14-17; 1 Corinthians 11:1).

Display slides 2-6 slides and/or the Oscar Romero PPT, which explore the concept that we, as Christ’s disciples, are his hands and feet in the world today. Create a class mural: students draw their hands and feet onto coloured card and put into their own words what it means to be a disciple of Christ, explain what is most important to them about discipleship, as well as what they are most reluctant to do/what they are most afraid of.

Years 9-10: Servant leadership

In his inauguration speech in March, Pope Francis spoke of the kind of leader that he hoped to be in the Church, following the example that Jesus himself set for Christians:

‘Today, together with the feast of Saint Joseph, we are celebrating the beginning of the ministry of the new Bishop of Rome, the Successor of Peter, which also involves a certain power. Certainly, Jesus Christ conferred power upon Peter, but what sort of power was it? Jesus’ three questions to Peter about love are followed by these commands: feed my lambs, feed my sheep. Let us never forget that authentic power is service and that the Pope too, when exercising power, must enter ever more fully into that service which has its radiant culmination on the Cross. He must be inspired by the lowly, concrete and faithful service which marked Saint Joseph and, like him, he must open his arms to protect all of God’s people and embrace with tender affection the whole of humanity, especially the poorest, the weakest, the least important, those whom Matthew lists in the final judgment on love: the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the naked, the sick and those in prison.’

Questions for reflection: How would our world be different if leaders followed Pope Francis’ advice about authentic power being service? How might politicians and businesses act differently? What does it mean for how we should act in our everyday lives?

Extension: View the Works of Mercy PowerPoint.

Discuss: How is mercy related to justice? How does/can this affect our decisions as ‘just’ leaders?

The notion of servant leadership is clearly revealed in, and central to, Jesus’ life and ministry, in the Gospels and in the Catholic tradition. We are called not to experience feeling good for doing good – but instead to respond actively to the call to “build a civilization of love” (Pamela Reihy (2001), To Build a Civilization of Love. p 41-43). We do this not out of the goodness of our hearts, but as a matter of justice.

Caritas means love and compassion. If we are to “build a civilization of love” we must work towards a world in balance, at peace and free from poverty.  Students create a story that illustrates servant leadership in the world today.

  1. Students research examples of servant leadership from their local and global communities. Scriptural examples could also be taken. 
  2. Students creatively present their chosen example through (digitalstorytelling, highlighting the service values demonstrated. 
  3. Students present their stories to small groups or the class.

Learn - Demonstrate

Solidarity through just leadership.

Watch Caritas Australia’s ‘Common Good' film from 00:44-01:00.

Years 7-8

Introduction: We have all read stories of courage in which people have applied extraordinary effort to save a life or to assist others in times of crisis. We all know people who are prepared to sacrifice their own desires in order to be present to someone in need. Maristely is a normal 18 year old girl – she likes spending time with her family and friends and having fun; yet she has committed herself to working with the most disadvantaged people in her society, which often means spending time in meetings, workshops and with those people in her community, rather than using her spare time for herself.

Questions for reflection: What is it that makes some people so willing to reach out to others? What qualities do some people have that enable them to be hopeful about the world and to see good in others? Could it be grace, religion, a spiritual outlook, faith or is it just a matter of temperament  or personality? Could it be all of these?

These people have an instinct for caring, a feeling for others, an awareness that in some mysterious way we are all connected and therefore responsible for each other. They truly put into practice the words of Jesus: ‘Love your neighbour’. And yet it seems these people have another quality. They recognise their talents and are committed to using them for the good of others. They hone their skills, develop their abilities and then find ways to effectively use them to improve our world.
Adapted from  Australian Catholics

Students complete the Caritas ‘Maristely – Young Leader Awards’ worksheet, which asks them to identify Maristely’s leadership qualities.

Teacher’s note: This requires students to work in groups and as individuals.

Maristely talks about being committed to helping the most disadvantaged people in her community. On a large poster, or by creating an interactive e-poster, students creatively present the needs of people living on the margins of our community.  Students may wish to use words, quotations, drawings, symbols, photos and captions, lists or poetry.

Teacher’s note: Encourage students to think of both their local and global community – of all our neighbours.

Years 9-10

For solidarity to be a Christian practice it must be permeated by love (caritas). The life, death and resurrection of Jesus connect solidarity and charity (caritas). In fact solidarity is the expression of caritas, or to put it another way, love is the verb of solidarity. Solidarity is the virtue and the practice underlying the commandment to love one’s neighbour – our brothers and sisters around the world – as oneself. (Matthew 10:40-42, 20:25; Mark 10:42-45; Luke 22:25-27)

One of the main characteristics of Christian living is the demonstration of solidarity with and action for those who suffer. Caritas focuses on doing this for those who face poverty and injustice.

Display the editorial cartoon and then go through slides 7-10, which looks at our ‘fast clothing’ culture and what we can do to be counter-cultural, in order for all people involved in the clothing industry to have fair and just working conditions. Explain that Christ asked several of the disciples to “be with” Him in Gethsemane in His pain and suffering. What are different ways we can “be with” others in their pain and suffering, that is, in solidarity? Remind students that the editorial cartoon is just one example of how many of our brothers and sisters around the world are experiencing injustice, and that taking the actions outlined in the slides are one example of ways we can stand in solidarity to end poverty, promote justice and uphold dignity.

Students bring in an old cotton t-shirt and use it to creatively present ways they can “be with” others.


Being a true disciple by being a just leader.

Years 7-8

We have all been blessed with various talents. We are all capable of contributing to our world in a unique and special way.

Questions for reflection: What skills do you have to reach out to others in a Christian way? What are your special talents? Are you a good listener, do you have a sense of humour, can you teach or explain things well? Perhaps you have practical or trade skils. You might be a great cook, or artistic. There are many ways to reach out to your neighbour.

Students list their skills and human qualities.

In groups, students brainstorm ways they can be a true disciple by helping cater for these needs and being a leader for justice.

Students review the Caritas "Two feet of love in action" worksheet to understand the difference between ‘charity’ (meeting an immediate need) and ‘justice’ (addressing an underlying cause).

Students draw their own two feet and write what actions they will take to meet the needs identified, including using their skills and qualities.

Years 9-10

Young leader solidarity rings

Students complete the  Caritas ‘Maristely – Young Leader Solidarity Rings’ worksheet, which asks them to reflect on Maristely’s leadership qualities, and identify and explain how they could earn a ‘solidarity ring’ for being just leaders themselves, by standing in solidarity with our one human family.  

Teacher’s note: This requires students to work in groups and as individuals.


Taking up God’s invitation to show his love to others – to love and care for myself and others.

Students complete pages 17-19 of the Caritas CST Reflection Journal.

As a class or in assembly, use the Oscar Romero ‘Be More’ prayer. You can make the link between Romero’s words on ‘sowing seeds of hope’ (“We plant the seeds that one day will grow. We water seeds already planted, knowing that they hold future promise.”) and Maristely’s quote about doing the same in the favelas (“We sow the seeds of hope and, even though the seed that we plant is small, the seed grows slowly. I believe it is possible that the situation will change.”)

To respond, students write reflectively about aspects of their own lives, culture and the world that need to be transformed, and how they can sow seeds of hope.


Prayer Flag Activity

Show students pictures of Buddhist prayer flags in Nepal. Explain that they are a colourful rectangular cloth, often found strung along mountain ridges and peaks high in the Himalayas, and are used to bless the surrounding countryside and for other purposes. Traditional prayer flags include woodblock-printed text and images. Relate the use of prayer flags in Buddhism to the use of icons and holy pictures in Catholic practice.

Students create their own stamp symbol for justice using soap or a potato.


  • Fabric paint and pens
  • Calico pieces or paper (size of A4 paper sheets)
  • String
  • Potato or soap if doing stamp activity.


Using the statement ‘Justice, it starts with me…’ students create their prayer flag by constructing one of the sheets. Include some of the following: an image (their stamp), some statements that express their understanding of justice, a quote, their values, and how they will be a leader for justice.

After all of the flags are finished, string them together. Display at a school assembly/liturgy, and/or in the class area.