Faith is relational; people influence us all the time. It is our baptismal duty to pass on the faith in how we car for one another.
Judith Dunlap, When You Teach in a Catholic School(2004) writes, that we need to affirm our youth that they are loved no matter what; God’s love is always steady. All people in a child’s life have the responsibility to help them grow in their faith and become anchored in God’s steadfast love. Students also need to be taught that they, in turn, have a responsibility to share love with others by living a life of peace, justice and respect.
Archbishop Miller for The Holy See’s Teaching on Catholic Schools(2006) emphasizes that the purpose of a Catholic school is to be a vital witness that reveals the love of Christ by word, gesture, and behaviour.
God Reveal’s His Plan:
And the king will answer them, “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.”
In Evangel Gaudium, the Joy of the Gospel, Pope Francis wrote that a catechist must be strong and clear with the most important proclamation of: “Jesus Christ loves you; he gave his life to save you; and now he is living at your side every day to enlighten, strengthen, and free you.” How do these words resonate with you? What are your feelings or reactions after watching the video?
Challenge yourself that when you encourage or console someone this week, you verbally, out loud, ask God to bless then so they can hear holy words of affirmation.
The real subjects in Catholic education are the learners in the sense that wisdom requires that the learners be the primary agents of their own learning. Learners are invited to see for themselves: to be active agents of their learning rather than passive recipients of knowledge.
Learners are encouraged to use their whole minds in the pursuit of learning – their reason, memory, and imagination. And because learning proceeds from what is known to the unknown, learner’s own lefe experiences become the building blocks to new learning. An attitude of openess to the truth requires that practices of exclusion – such as racism and sexism – be absent from the learning environment. Wisdom is the antithesis of injustice. Such openness also welcomes everyone into the learning process. Everyone’s voice can be heard in the learning environment just as everyone has the opportunity to learn.
Strategies to engage Reason and Rationality in Catholic Schools:
Encourage social analysis: the context of learnings gives meaning to the content; cultural contexts and worldviews are open to question; other perspectives can be viewed
Promote responsibility and commitment: take learners beyond their own knowledge; discover how knowledge can be life-giving
Sensitize learning: investigate whose interests are served by what we learn; relate learning to the Reign of God
Encourage relational learning: allow for different styles of learning; collaborative; cooperative learning
Foster the professional development of teachers in the study of theology and religious education
Assess student learning in the religious dimension based on the cognitive understanding of faith integration into all subject areas
A sacramental outlook invites Catholic educators to develop and nurture their own sacramental consciousness. When Catholic educators live their own lives in appreciation of the goodness of creation and as meaningful and worthwhile, their attitude permeates their interaction in the educational milieu and will encourage a similar outlook in others. The ideal of a Catholic school is to educate its members into a world that is sacred and holy because it is God’s creation. Appreciation for God’s gift finds expression in the attitudes and actions of a school community through liturgy and stewardship. School policies and practices include reverence for the sacredness of created things through environmentally respectful actions that regard creation as the Lord’s and for the enhancement of the life of all people.
Strategies to Develop a Sacramental Awareness in Catholic Schools
create attractive learning environments
attend to the sacred dimension in all subject areas
celebrate key moments in the life of the community
provide opportunities to participate in the sacramental and liturgical life of the church
include sacramental awareness programs in faith and professional development activities
keep a clean and healthy environment for learning
promote environmental awareness programs
celebrate the gifts of creation, Earth Day
participate in recycling programs
encourage responsible stewardship of resources
How does Catholic education express the sacramentality of all creation?
In partnership with the entire community, the Catholic school has a value and importance that are fundamental to the integral human formation of children. In virtue of its mission, the Catholic school constantly and carefully attends to the cultivation in children of the intellectual, creative and aesthetic gifts of the human person. Catholic schools foster in children an appreciation of their God-given dignity; the ability to make correct use of their judgement, will and affectivity; promote in them a sense of values; encourage just attitudes and prudent behaviour; introduce to them the cultural heritage handed down from past generations; prepare them for professional life; and encourage the friendly interchange of diverse cultures and backgrounds that will lead to mutual understanding.
In short, Catholic schools contribute to integral human formation. Catholic schools strive to form strong and responsible persons who are capable of making free and correct choices and are able to form in themselves a clear idea of the meaning of life.
Strategies to develop the Human Dimension of Catholic Schools:
Give appropriate emphasis to academic excellence
Support art, music, drama, dance and other fine arts and performing arts
Create a healthy respect for physical education and manual arts
Recognize the importance of fun and humour
Exercise forgiveness and reconciliation
Create discipline policies that are firm, fair, and flexible and that respect the dignity of persons and invite forgiveness and reconciliation
How does Catholic education respect the dignity of human persons?
The fundamental task of Catholic schools is the integration of faith and culture and the integration of faith and life. The task is reached by integrating all the different aspects of human knowledge and in the growth of the virtues characteristic of Christians. Through this integration, the Catholic school models the kind of community that forms students to be citizens who care for the common good and and people of faith committed to the reign of God in the world. Catholic schools contribute to the common good of society.
Strategies to develop the Community Dimension of Catholic Schools:
Invite reflection on the mission statement of the school and/or school jurisdiction
Encourage committees that will animate the life of the school
Celebrate the unity within the diversity of the school population
Celebrate and participate in societal and community events and church sponsored initiatives such as Family Day, United Nations Day, Ecumenism
Foster social consciousness by addressing social ills through events such as Share Lent, Elimination of Racism Day
Integrate community service programs and projects into the life of the school
Hold induction ceremonies for new staff, students, parents, welcoming them into the community
Communicate to school community members about the life of the school
What does the community dimension mean for a Catholic school community?
Prayer: God, indivisible Trinity of Love, you created us in your image. May husbands and wives unite and raise children in your loving way. We ask that all families find inspiration in the Holy Family of Nazareth and pass along to their children humane and Christian values, establishing a strong foundation for a more loving society. (Adapted from the prayer for the 6th World Meeting of Families).
Reflection Question: How can you work in unity with other Christians to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ?
Discussion Questions: Our Catholic schools are committed to many Social Justice causes, regardless of Faith, discuss past and perhaps a future project the school could undertake for others in need.