Missionary Discipleship Institute for Seventh Graders



The Missionary Discipleship Institute (MDI) is a year-long 3-part faith and outreach experience which provides a framework for students to encounter the lives of their neighbors on the margins and gain awareness of injustices that they face; reflect on how the Church is responding in love and the disturbance this creates in our own sense of discipleship; and discern, develop, and execute a missionary service response.

This program was developed in partnership with Missions Office and Office for Catholic Schools of the Archdiocese of Seattle, the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers, and the Poverty Education Center at Seattle University. The Seattle program includes an MDI Institute Capstone Gathering of students.

Read about our pilot year in Maryknoll magazine. For more information, contact our national Teacher Catechist Outreach Team at teachers@maryknoll.us.


The program includes three basic learning phases, divided into units. Each unit contains three lessons.

Unit One: Who is my neighbor?


Students research the lives of people living on the margins and how issues of injustice affect them, locally and globally. As a class, students discern a single topic to address as a community of missionary disciples.

Link to Immersion Lesson Plans here.

Links to Seattle Archdiocesan Standards here.

Unit Two: Who is showing love to my neighbor?(DISTURBANCE/Lent)

Students reflect on and assess local and global case studies of various Catholic organizations and communities in loving relationships of missionary discipleship with people living on the margins. They discern and plan their missionary discipleship response.

Links to Seattle Archdiocesan Standards here.

Unit Three: How am I called to love my neighbor?


In this final phase, students carry out their plans for the missionary discipleship response. Students reflect on the experience and share information with others in school and the larger community.

Links to Seattle Archdiocesan Standards here.

View the entire curriculum as one document here.

Teachers in the Archdiocese of Seattle:

Link to Religion Standards not included here.

Link to Standards to be implemented throughout the year here.


What They Taught Us Reflections

As a tool for ongoing reflection, Maryknoll offers a free online companion guide for the Orbis book What They Taught Us: How Maryknoll Missioners Were Evangelized by the Poor.

Resources on Issues Facing People on the Margins

The MDI asks students to research five topic areas related to the life and health of people around the world, and select one to which they feel called to respond. Resources provided around these topic areas include:

  • Reflection activities that invite students to consider more deeply these issues through the lens of their faith and life experience
  • Links to research sites where students can find information on each topic
  • Summaries of the five topic areas with connections to Catholic Social Teaching and links to community responses
  • Case studies of how Maryknoll missioners, Catholic Relief Services, and others are responding to each topic area in love and faith

Rubric for Missionary Discipleship

This rubric can be used by both students and teachers to assess missionary discipleship activity. It is also the basis for how students plan their response.

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