Academics


Religious Studies

ABOUT RELIGIOUS STUDIES

The Religious Studies Department aims to prepare and to equip young women and men to contribute to the world from a foundation of Gospel values. Students study Catholic doctrine and practice as they prepare to live in and contribute to a pluralistic society. In addition to providing knowledge of the doctrinal content of catechetical instruction for high school-age young people, the Religious Studies curriculum is also designed to help these young men and women develop the necessary skills to answer or address the real questions that they face in life and in their faith development. Students are challenged on a personal level with Catholic morality and are called to analyze how social structures can be a vehicle for the enhancement of all people. Academic study, reflection, dialogue, worship, prayer, and service all converge in the curriculum to help students respond on multiple levels: interpersonally, locally, nationally, and globally.

Recognizing the unique position of Religious Studies in the moral formation of young women and men, the AMHS Religious Studies Department teaches to the AMHS Graduation Outcomes while embracing the six interrelated tasks of catechesis outlined by the USCCB Department of Education in the National Directory for Catechesis #20 (2005):

  1. Promoting knowledge of the faith
  2. Promoting knowledge of the meaning of the Liturgy and the sacraments.
  3. Promoting moral formation in Jesus Christ.
  4. Teaching how to pray with Christ.
  5. Preparing the student to live in community and participate actively in the life and mission of the Church.
  6. Promoting a missionary spirit that prepares the student to be present as a Christian in society.

Journey Through Scripture: Foundations of Catholic Faith - Grade 9 - Yearlong course

Promoting knowledge of the faith and the role of Scripture in the Catholic faith tradition, Journey Thgrough Scripture: Foundations of Catholic Faith assists students in understanding the Catholic Christian experience of the presence of God in all aspects of creation and human experience.  Students explore both the Old and New Testaments with an emphasis on contextual interpretation to reveal religious truths and how these truths shape Catholic belief and practice. Students will examine their personal faith in response to themes such as the goodness of Creation, our need for community, and what it means to be “made in the image and likeness of God.” With this foundation, students will connect Jesus’ command to love one another to the Hebrew prophets’ understanding of justice.  Throughout the course, students will reflect on the role of narrative as a vehicle for understanding their own identities relative to ongoing Salvation History.  Students will complete 20 hours of Christian Service as part of the AMHS graduation requirement. 

Church, Community, and Character - Grade 10 - Yearlong course

Students will deepen their understanding of Jesus Christ, the fullness of God’s Revelation, as they encounter him in the living Body of Christ, the Catholic Church. They will recognize Christ present and active in their lives and in the community through the visible and vibrant mission of Church, defined by her four characteristics – one, holy, catholic and apostolic. The foundations of the Church in their historical and scriptural context will guide students in recognizing the sacred nature of the Church and engage them to actively participate with the community in the living Body of Christ. Also, they will be encouraged to serve as witnesses to the Gospel in the world today. Students learn the moral concepts and precepts that govern the lives of Christ’s disciples.  Through critical analysis, exegesis, and personal reflection on daily living and relationships, students develop strategies for making choices consistent with the Gospel values of compassion, love and commitment. Students will complete 20 hours of Christian Service as part of the AMHS graduation requirement.

Personal & Social Ethics - Grade 11 - Yearlong course

Personal & Social Ethics leads students toward a deeper understanding of the rich tradition of Catholic Social Teaching.  The course starts by examining the foundations of Catholic social teaching in Scripture and Tradition. Students then explore that teaching as they analyze the Church’s response to rapid and far-reaching changes in society. Later units explore specific social issues, such as protecting human life at its beginning and its end, poverty and hunger, war and peacemaking, economic justice and environmental justice. Students will be challenged to reflect, analyze, synthesize and apply the principles learned in this course to personal and social moral concerns in order to participate in the creation of a more just society. Students will complete 20 hours of Christian Service as part of the AMHS graduation requirement.  

UC/CSU Approved Course

 

Ethics, Culture, and Justice: Appalachia - Grade 11 - Yearlong Course

ECJ: Appalachia leads students toward a deeper understanding of the rich tradition of Catholic Social Teaching.  The course starts by examining the foundations of Catholic social teaching in Scripture and Tradition. Students then explore that teaching as they analyze the Church’s response to rapid and far-reaching changes in society. Later units explore specific social issues, such as protecting human life at its beginning and its end, poverty and hunger, war and peacemaking, economic justice and environmental justice with a focus on social issues related to the Appalachian region within the context of U.S. History, Catholic Social Teaching, and the United States Catholic Bishops' Pastoral Letters on Appalachia. Students will be challenged to reflect, analyze, synthesize and apply the principles learned in this course to personal and social moral concerns in order to participate in the creation of a more just society.  

The course-associated immersion trip enables students and teachers to develop a community of mutual concern in service to the local population of West Virginia. In the summer of following their junior year, students will witness a deepening of their social consiousness by visiting various Appalachian communities and participating in service projects. Students will visit Wheeling, formerly considered the gateway to the West; Weirton, an historic steel mill town located on the Ohio River; and the capital city, Charleston viewing historic and cultural sites and serving the needs of the community in soup kitchens and a community garden. A highlight of the trip is a day on Kayford Mountain where they witness the stark contrast between the beauty and diversity of the Appalachian region and the environmental degradation caused by the mountain top removal methods of extracting coal. This immersion trip awards service hours for senior year; during the course of junior year students will complete 20 hours of Christian Service as part of the AMHS graduation requirement.

UC/CSU approved course

 

Ethics, Culture, and Justice: California - Grade 11 - Yearlong Course

ECJ: California leads students toward a deeper understanding of the rich tradition of Catholic Social Teaching.  The course starts by examining the foundations of Catholic social teaching in Scripture and Tradition. Students then explore that teaching as they analyze the Church’s response to rapid and far-reaching changes in society. Later units explore specific social issues, such as protecting human life at its beginning and its end, poverty and hunger, war and peacemaking, economic justice and environmental justice with a focus on social issues that present challenges to human life and dignity in the history and current events in the state and recent experiences of the Catholic Church in California. Students will be challenged to reflect, analyze, synthesize and apply the principles learned in this course to personal and social moral concerns in order to participate in the creation of a more just society.  

The course-associated immersion trip enables students and teachers to develop a community of mutual concern in service to the community in which they travel.  In the summer of following their junior year, students will balance their classroom study and witness a deepening of their social consciousness by visiting and participating in service learning projects at locations throughout the state, including St. Anthony’s Foundation in San Francisco, Save the Bay in San Jose, a migrant farm-working community in Salinas, and Dolores Mission in Los Angeles. This immersion trip brings students into an encounter with the world so that they participate in the pursuit of justice. This immersion trip awards service hours for senior year; during the course of junior year students will complete 20 hours of Christian Service as part of the AMHS graduation requirement. 

UC/CSU approved course

Ethics, Culture and Justice – Central America - Grade 11 - Yearlong course

Course Description

ECJ: Central America is designed to aid students in facing the moral challenges of young adulthood. Students will discover that morality is more than just following the dictates of their parents and institutions concerning right and wrong. They will begin to discover and develop for themselves a sense of conscience that will guide them throughout adulthood. Throughout this course, the student explores the components of moral decision-making and is encouraged to form a personal conscience rooted in the Roman Catholic tradition. Students will be challenged to reflect, analyze, synthesize and apply the principles learned in this course to personal and social issues. This course places special emphasis on the study of social justice issues and the major tenets of Catholic social teaching, particularly through studying the history and experience of the Catholic Church in Central America.

Students will balance their classroom study and witness a deepening of their social consciousness by completing their 20 hours of Christian Service through working with the economically poor and disadvantaged during the school year. Their senior year service hours will be completed through a two-week immersion trip to Nicaragua in June of 2017. 

To participate in this course, students must also be taking, or have taken, a Spanish Language Level III or higher. Spanish vocabulary and conversation will be used throughout the course in preparation for the class immersion trip.

UC/CSU approved course

Ethics, Culture and Justice – India – Grade 11 - Yearlong course

ECJ: India leads students toward a deeper understanding of the rich tradition of Catholic Social Teaching.  The course starts by examining the foundations of Catholic social teaching in Scripture and Tradition. Students then explore that teaching as they analyze the Church’s response to rapid and far-reaching changes in society. Later units explore specific social issues, such as protecting human life at its beginning and its end, poverty and hunger, war and peacemaking, economic justice and environmental justice with a focus on social issues that present challenges to human life and dignity in the history and current events in India. Students will be challenged to reflect, analyze, synthesize and apply the principles learned in this course to personal and social moral concerns in order to participate in the creation of a more just society.  

The course-associated immersion trip enables students and teachers to develop a community of mutual concern in service to the community in which they travel.  In the summer of following their junior year, students will balance their classroom study and witness a deepening of their social consciousness by visiting schools, orphanages, temples, mosques and churches in several cities in India including Delhi, Agra, and Bangalore. Students will visit the Taj Mahal and a variety of other cultural centers as well. This immersion trip brings students into an encounter with the world so that they participate in the pursuit of justice. This immersion trip awards service hours for senior year; during the course of junior year students will complete 20 hours of Christian Service as part of the AMHS graduation requirement.

UC/CSU approved course

Ethics, Culture and Justice – Native American Experience – Grade 11 - Yearlong course

ECJ: Native American Experience leads students toward a deeper understanding of the rich tradition of Catholic Social Teaching.  The course starts by examining the foundations of Catholic social teaching in Scripture and Tradition. Students then explore that teaching as they analyze the Church’s response to rapid and far-reaching changes in society. Later units explore specific social issues, such as protecting human life at its beginning and its end, poverty and hunger, war and peacemaking, economic justice and environmental justice with a focus on social issues related to the Native American experience within the context of U.S. history.  Students will be challenged to reflect, analyze, synthesize and apply the principles learned in this course to personal and social moral concerns in order to participate in the creation of a more just society.  

The course-associated immersion trip enables students and teachers to develop a community of mutual concern in service to the community in which they travel.  In the summer of following their junior year, students will balance their classroom study and witness a deepening of their social consciousness by visiting various Native American communities and participating in service projects on the Navajo Reservation and Taos Pueblo in solidarity with the local communities. Students will visit the St. Michael's Indian School, Mesa Verde, Monument Valley, Chaco Canyon, and Canyon De Chelly as well. This immersion trip brings students into an encounter with the world so that they participate in the pursuit of justice.  This immersion trip awards service hours for senior year; during the course of junior year students will complete 20 hours of Christian Service as part of the AMHS graduation requirement.

UC/CSU approved course

Ethics, Culture and Justice – South Africa - Grade 11 - Yearlong course

ECJ: South Africa leads students toward a deeper understanding of the rich tradition of Catholic Social Teaching.  The course starts by examining the foundations of Catholic social teaching in Scripture and Tradition. Students then explore that teaching as they analyze the Church’s response to rapid and far-reaching changes in society. Later units explore specific social issues, such as protecting human life at its beginning and its end, poverty and hunger, war and peacemaking, economic justice and environmental justice with a focus on social issues that present challenges to human life and dignity in the history and current events in South Africa. Students will be challenged to reflect, analyze, synthesize and apply the principles learned in this course to personal and social moral concerns in order to participate in the creation of a more just society.  

The course-associated immersion trip enables students and teachers to develop a community of mutual concern in service to the community in which they travel.  In the summer of following their junior year, students will balance their classroom study and witness a deepening of their social consciousness by spending a week in Johannesburg where they will tour Soweto and other cultural landmarks, visit high schools and volunteer at children’s shelters. Following an overnight visit to Pilanesberg Game Preserve, students will spend a week in Cape Town where they will visit schools, orphanages, churches, and other cultural centers. This immersion trip brings students into an encounter with the world so that they participate in the pursuit of justice. This immersion trip awards service hours for senior year; during the course of junior year students will complete 20 hours of Christian Service as part of the AMHS graduation requirement.

UC/CSU approved course

Senior Courses

Seniors are required to take two semesters, one each semester, of electives chosen from the Religious Studies Electives.

Electives

Ethics, Justice, and the Environment – Grade 12 - Semester course

Ethics, Justice, and the Environment examines the complex and multi-faceted environmental crisis through the lens of Christian Scriptures and Catholic Social Teaching. Students engage in critical analysis, reflection, and prayer that will aid them as they examine environmental degradation, the phenomenon of environmental racism, and environmental injustice present in the world today. This course explores Christian environmental stewardship in dialogue with other non-Christian religious and spiritual perspectives (e.g. Native American, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism) to demonstrate the sacredness of the natural world, the interdependence of all life, and the possibility of an interfaith approach toward resolving environmental crises. Drawing from religious texts, contemporary writings, and case studies, students will apply ethical principles to specific local, regional, and global environmental problems with the goal of identifying potential actions that they can take to contribute to global solutions. Students will complete 20 hours of Christian Service as part of the AMHS graduation requirement.

UC/CSU approved course

Global Economic Justice – Semester course

Global Economic Justice offers students advanced study in the Church’s social teaching. This course surveys the ethical dimensions of contemporary global economic policies and practices. The principles of Catholic social teaching -- subsidiary, solidarity, respect for human dignity and the common good, and a preferential option for the poor -- form the foundation of this course as students investigate and analyze contemporary issues in local, national and global economies. Students will explore the entrepreneurial life with an emphasis on character and virtue, and apply this to an examination of corporate social responsibility and the globalization of business. In developing an informed conscience, students will apply social justice principles to specific local, national, and global economic problems with the goal of identifying potential actions they can take to contribute to global solutions. Students will complete 20 hours of Christian Service as part of the AMHS graduation requirement.

UC/CSU approved course

Mission to Education- Grade 12 - Semester course

Mission to Education offers both a course of study and a practicum for seniors designed to provide experiences of leadership, service, and ministry. Students study the spiritual development of children and explore new and creative approaches to teaching the gospel to youth. Students study childhood and early adolescence to learn about the tremendous challenges and opportunities for growth in these periods of life, and the ways in which Catholic schools address these developmental challenges while continuing to serve immigrants and diverse ethnic, religious, and socio-economic communities. Students witness their faith by participating in a supervised practical application of their studies by serving at a school of the Diocese of San Jose on a consistent, weekly basis during school hours. By participating in the class, students will complete 20 hours of Christian Service as part of the AMHS graduation requirement.

Priority enrollment is given to students who graduated from the schools of the Diocese of San Jose at which they will serve.

Philosophy of Religion – Grade 12 – Semester course

Philosophy of Religion aims at critical understanding of the fundamental concepts and doctrines widely held by religious beliefs of various types as it engages in philosophical interpretation and evaluation of religion, religions, belief and religious practice in order to explore religions’ responses to the big questions: What does it mean to be human? How shall we live? What does it mean to believe in (or reject) the existence of God? Why are there so many religions?  In pursuit of these aims, this course will examine philosophical discussions by thinkers past and present of such topics as:  the attributes of God, arguments for and against God’s existence, religious experience and miracles, the possibility of life after death, the dialogue between faith and reason, and religious pluralism.  The objective of this course is to equip students with the knowledge and critical skills needed to formulate well-reasoned responses to the course’s questions and arrive at a critical, informed and accurate understanding of what religion is, what it is about and what value it has in the contemporary world. Students will complete 20 hours of Christian Service as part of the AMHS graduation requirement.

UC/CSU approved course
NCAA Core Course

Religion and Globalization – Grade 12 – Semester course

Religion and Globalization offers students advanced study in the Church’s social teaching. Students engage in critical analysis, reflection, and prayer that will aid them in facing the challenges of growing in faith while being a global citizen in a diverse religious environment. In keeping with the Catholic Church's call to interfaith dialogue (Nostra Aetate), students will explore how diverse religions strive for the common good, justice and human dignity in a global context. Guided by Catholic Social Teaching in dialogue with multi-cultural, religious, and spiritual perspectives, students will begin to develop an appreciation for non-western religious traditions as they investigate the possibility of a global ethic based on commonality in core values and ethical principles. In developing an informed conscience, students will apply social justice principles to specific local, national, and global issues with the goal of identifying potential actions they can take to contribute to global solutions. Students will complete 20 hours of Christian Service as part of the AMHS graduation requirement.

UC/CSU approved course
NCAA Core Course

Religions of the World – Grade 12 - Semester course

Religions of the World helps students understand the manner in which the Catholic Church relates to non-Catholic Christians as well as to other religions of the world. This course in comparative theologies starts with foundational questions humans have asked since ancient times and asks students to grapple with their own beliefs as compared to the views of the five major world religions: Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity, and Islam. Students will examine their own experience and analyze the central beliefs of these world religions. Students learn to recognize the ways in which important spiritual truths can also be found in non-Catholic Christian churches and ecclesial communities as well as in non-Christian religions, and recognize the ways in which other systems of belief and practice differ from the Catholic faith. Students will complete 20 hours of Christian Service as part of the AMHS graduation requirement.

UC/CSU Approved Course
NCAA Core Course

Science and Religion – Grade 12 - Semester course

Science and Religion invites students to wrestle with how one can be a scientifically literate person of faith. Acknowledging that scientific and religious paradigms are often assumed to be in conflict with one another, the objective of this course is to show that closer examination of these disciplines reveals room for a deeper engagement through fruitful dialogue and constructive integration. Beginning with an exploration of the nature of knowledge and ways of knowing, the course examines the philosophies of both science and religion to clarify differences and sometimes surprising similarities. Students will compare the process of advancing knowledge in science and theology by evaluating the role of the community, imagination, experience, models, and paradigms. Based on this foundation, the course explores four common typologies of the relationship between science and religion and then applies these towards understanding contemporary conversations about what it means to be human. Students will complete 20 hours of Christian Service as part of the AMHS graduation requirement.

UC/CSU Approved Course

Social Justice and Culture in the Americas – Semester course

Social Justice and Culture in the Americas offers students advanced study in the Church’s social teaching. This course aids students in exploring the challenges of being a global citizen and a person of faith in the Americas. Students explore how Latino Catholics and other Latino faith traditions strive for the common good, justice and human dignity in a global context. Guided by Catholic Social Teaching in dialogue with multi-cultural, religious, and spiritual perspectives, students develop an appreciation for how Catholicism and indigenous religious traditions interact with each other and emerge as a diverse Latino identity.  In developing a broader view of Latino experience in the Americas, students will apply social justice principles to specific local, national, and global issues across the Americas with the goal of identifying potential actions they can take to contribute to the development of a more just society. Students will also complete 20 hours of Christian Service as part of the AMHS graduation requirement.

UC/CSU approved course

Stories of the Sacred – Grade 12 - Semester course

Stories of the Sacred provides a survey of selected themes from the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures with an introduction to the basic principles for understanding and interpreting the Bible. Through examining stories from various books from the Old and New Testaments, students will explore themes such as the dynamics of human relationships, human suffering, gender issues, violence, and various images of God. Central goals of this course include developing religious and cultural literacy and examining how these stories continue to challenge people to wrestle with what it means to be human. Students will reflect on why these stories have the power to enchant and why these ancient narratives continue to capture the imagination of believers and non-believers alike in our modern world. This course will explore the different contexts that shape our understanding of the stories: the ancient world, our personal experience, and the world in which we live today. Students will complete 20 hours of Christian Service as part of the AMHS graduation requirement.

UC/CSU Approved Course

Vocation and Discernment – Grade 12 - Semester course

Parker Palmer describes vocation at its deepest level as "something I can't not do." While traditionally understood as a call to religious life, a vocation is more than a job or a title. It is the answer to the question: Who do I want to be? Vocation and Discernment will assist students in answering that question by reading and listening to personal accounts of vocation as well as studying the practice of Christian discernment and decision making. Throughout the course, students will examine the three major questions in discerning a vocation: (1) What brings me joy? (2) What are my gifts? (3) What does the world need of me? The objective of the course is for students to be able to utilize the skills and information learned in the classroom to explore their personal calling in life and discern who it is they truly want to be. Students will complete 20 hours of Christian Service as part of the AMHS graduation requirement.

UC/CSU Approved Course

DEPARTMENT CONTACT

Department Chair
John Mosunic