Dear Parishioners, +JMJ
When I got back from my vacation two weeks ago, I was greeted with a great surprise. The office staff, with the help of a number of volunteer parishioners, dramatically cleaned up my office at the Ed Center. Cluttered shelves were replaced with nice cabinets and organized content. Unseemly wires were hidden or removed. A few small statues and pictures were nicely placed. Many thanks to everybody who had a hand in on this! I think meetings in my office will be all the more enjoyable now!
Back during this last Easter season, Bishop Thomas give the keynote address to all the principals of Catholic schools in the diocese. Because we had just experienced Divine Mercy Sunday, with the gospel of St. Thomas touching the wounds of Jesus Christ, the Bishop first exhorted principals to bring the wounds of their students to the side of Jesus Christ. In this way, we ourselves in Catholic schooling could be a salve, a balm in the side of Jesus, who experiences the wounds of our students as His own. Next, the Bishop quoted Leon Bloy: “Joy is a sure sign of the presence of God.” Joy ought to characterize our schools, doing all that we do, with an awareness of God’s presence with us. These last couple of points were all preparation for the focus of the talk: five benchmarks by which to measure the Catholic identity and practice of a school. What follows is a summary of those five points:
First, the whole endeavor of Catholic education must be inspired by a supernatural vision. That is to say, we realize God as the source behind all of creation, and as Someone who throughout history continues to intervene in His creation. We understand the earth as something God wants to renew and perfect. We understand the human person’s ultimate goal to be communion with God for all eternity.
Second, Catholic education is founded on Catholic anthropology. Anthropology has to do with the understanding of the nature of the human person. How do Catholics understand the nature of the human person. We know the human person is made in God’s image and likeness. So there is, of course, great reverence for each student in that respect. Furthermore, we understand the human person to be a body-soul composite. The body cannot function without the soul, nor vice versa. We seek to educate the whole human person (body, soul, will, intellect, emotions, etc.), rather than somehow pretending simply to expand our students’ brains with a bunch of knowledge.
Third, Catholic education is animated by communion and community. “Communion” means that what is being taught, and those who are teaching it are in relationship with the local bishop, who is himself teaching as a part of the whole living “magisterium” (teaching office) of the Church. The Catholic school is not independent, in this respect, as if it could teach whatever it wants, with no concern for the truth and vision laid out by the Catholic Magisterium.
Fourth, Catholic education is imbued with the Catholic worldview throughout its curriculum. “Worldview” means how we see all of creation. For instance, we understand all of creation to be good at its core, since God is its source. At the same time, we realize that the devil and sin have entered the world and brought imbalance and suffering into God’s good creation. It is often the problem of sin that is ultimately behind systemic evil in the world, systems that fail to help and support human persons according to their dignity.
Fifth, Catholic education is sustained by gospel witness. Most plainly, this means that everybody who works in Catholic education, from the janitor to the principal and superintendent, must try to be a living example of discipleship in Jesus Christ. Everybody entrusted in whatever way with helping the process of Catholic education must personally strive to be the best witness possible to full life in Jesus Christ. We need dynamic Catholics in our institutions.
So there is a summary of the Bishop’s talk on Catholic identity, given to all of our diocesan principals this last Easter season. As we approach a new academic year, please pray that we in our own Divine Mercy School live up to this vision. Please send any inquiries about Divine Mercy School to Mr. Joe Linder at the school office, and please recommend our school to those you know who might be ready to make the big decision for Catholic education for their own children. In a future bulletin I will write about some of the vision we have for still more improvements in our school. Many have been made already – especially in the area of technology – but there is vision for ongoing improvement, as there must be.
Have a blessed week!
In cordibus Jesu et Mariae,