The Mission of Catholic Schools
Catholic schools are no less zealous than other schools in the promotion of culture and in the human formation of young people. It is however, the special function of the Catholic school to:
lead people to a deep encounter with Jesus Christ;
provide young people with an apprenticeship in Christian living;
to hand on Catholic culture to youth through the development of their physical; intellectual, moral, social and especially spiritual capacities;
orientate the whole of human culture to the message of salvation.
(General Directory for Catechesis, 259; Vatican II, Declaration on Christian Education, 1, 8)
“The special character of the Catholic school, the underlying reason for it, the reason why Catholic parents should prefer it, is precisely the quality of the religious instruction integrated into the education of the pupils." (Pope John Paul II, On Catechesis in Our Time, no. 69)
What is Culture?
A culture is a social unit held together by shared ideas, beliefs, values, and goals. Members of a culture enjoy a community of perspective and conviction, including a fundamental agreement on what is true, good, and beautiful. From this shared value system flow the many attributes commonly associated with a culture, such as artistic expressions, moral precepts, structures of leadership, customs and dress, and language and vocabulary. All these secondary cultural traits are ultimately traceable to shared core values. In order to create a culture, then, it is first necessary to establish a common understanding or perception of truth.
The Culture of a Catholic School
“Culture” comes from the Latin cultus, meaning worship. A Catholic culture is a community rooted in worship, in harmony with the heart and mind of the Church.
The defining characteristic of a thriving Catholic school culture is a shared, living adherence to the person and teachings of Christ, in communion with the Church. Defining qualities of this culture include:
Joyful witness to the unity in the faith among administration, faculty, staff, parents, and students (cf. Jn. 17:20-21)
Doctrinally sound religious instruction
Coherent Christian vision that permeates all areas of academic instruction and student life
School environment reflecting Catholic sensibilities, from artistic expression to loving concern for neighbor
Human effort and work understood within the context of Catholic rather than secular values
The Priority of the Ongoing Religious Formation of Catholic Educators
The Vatican Congregation for Catholic Education recently published a guideline concerning formation of catholic school faculties entitled, Educating Together in Catholic Schools: A Shared Mission Between Consecrated Persons and the Lay Faithful. The guideline emphasized that “lay [teachers] . . . should have the opportunity of receiving the specific experiential knowledge of the mystery of Christ and of the Church that priests and religious automatically acquire in the course of their formation.”
Catechesis is a lifelong project, all the more so for those formally entrusted with the religious education of children.
Most Catholic school educators have not had the advantage of the intensive spiritual and theological formation that religious brothers and sisters of past generations received.
The challenge is to offer an ongoing “lay novitiate” for Catholic educators to arouse and deepen their own faith, with the consequence of better equipping them to foster the Catholic identity and mission of the school.
Mission of the School of Faith Institue Program
We invite adults to become missionary disciples by immersing them in the teachings of Jesus, virtue and prayer using one-on-one discipleship, small group evangelization and large group formation.
Pillars of the School of Faith Program
With the intention of fostering an authentically Catholic culture in the Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of Kansas City, the School of Faith formation consists of four pillars:
Intellectual formation in the Catholic ideas or truths by studying the Old and New Testament, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, virtue, moral principles, social doctrine and the theology of the body.
Interior formation, concentrating on growth in a deep relationship with Christ through prayer.
Community and friendship, as our faith is relational.
Apostolate: Apply the truth, beauty, and goodness of the Catholic faith to everything we do in the school, as an application of our baptismal mission to draw others to Christ and His Church.
The curriculum itself is taught through a series of weekly and/or monthly sessions in a mini-retreat format, highly engaging and interactive with no assignments or requirements other than attendance. The program will allow teachers and other attendees to grow in their relationship with Christ and one another as a community and help them to express, understand, live and share the Gospel.
As each one has received a gift, use it to serve one another as good stewards of God's varied grace. (1 Peter 4:10)