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The Holy See’s Teaching on Catholic Schools

The Holy See’s Teaching on Catholic Schools

By Bob Schell, Principal

This season we wish to share with you the vision for preparing our school staff for the formation of our students in their love of Jesus Christ at St. Maria Goretti Catholic School. We’ll also continue to revisit our 2021-2022 school year theme, Living in Faith.

The Holy See’s Teaching on Catholic Schools

The Secretary of the Congregation for Catholic Education, Archbishop J. Michael Miller, CSB, wrote a pocket-sized book titled, The Holy See’s Teaching on Catholic Schools. In it, Archbishop Miller writes, “...forty years after the promulgation of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council’s Declaration on Christian Education, Gravissimum Educationis, the signs of the times require that new wine be poured into the wineskins of America’s Catholic schools.”

After a preliminary statistical look at the current situation, he discusses the “...parental and government rights in education and the five benchmarks that can be used to judge a school’s Catholic identity and thereby take the steps necessary to strengthen it.”

In future Gatherings publications, we will explore those Five Marks and the steps necessary to strengthen them at SMG Catholic School. But first, let’s explore how our school staff can learn more about forming students in their faith.

In our increasingly secular society, we’ve seen a steady decline nationwide in Catholic School enrollment. Religious vocations have plummeted, and the shift to lay leadership in Catholic schools presents its own set of challenges.

Archbishop Miller states, “To be effective bearers of the Church’s educational tradition, however, laypersons who teach in Catholic schools need a ‘religious formation that is equal to their general, cultural, and, most especially, professional formation.’ … In this regard, Catholic universities have a special responsibility to assist Catholic schools by providing teacher training courses and programs serving the constituency.”

What does this look like for teachers within the Diocese of Madison?

Catechetical Institute - Franciscan University

The teacher training courses and programs that our SMG Catholic School staff will access this year and beyond are from the Franciscan at Home program offered through Catechetical Institute of Franciscan University of Steubenville, Ohio.

The two workshops that our staff will be focusing on this year include:

  1. The Mission of Catholic Schools and the Role of Teachers
  2. The Human Person in God’s Loving Plan

All schools are encouraged to encounter these workshops together in small- or whole-groups. Sessions are typically led by “mentors,” who facilitate staff watching video segments and discussion and reflection of our learning in response to online prompts.

The Catechetics Program at Franciscan University of Steubenville describes their program as existing to “prepare students to join the ‘army of catechists’ called for by the late Pope Saint John Paul II, eager to help the Church in her mission of making all nations disciples of Jesus Christ.” The program also combines a “thorough study of Sacred Scripture, Sacred Tradition, and magisterial documents with training in proper and effective pedagogical techniques to help our students grasp the intelligibility and coherence of divine truths, and to pass them along faithfully.”

Living in Faith

Our school motto is Living in Faith, Growing in Character, Loving Each Other. In recognizing the importance of grounding ourselves in our Catholic identity, we continue with our theme for the 2021-2022 school year, Living in Faith.

From the Dominican Sisters of Saint Cecilia Congregation of Nashville, Tennessee, who author the Virtues in Practice program, we see a three-year cycle of “Faith, Hope, and Charity.” God’s providence allows us to align our Living in Faith theme to the “Faith” year of focus from this religious order.

The month of September called to mind the virtue of Faith, which is, “Believing in God and all He has revealed.” October included a focus on the virtue of Reverence, “Showing your deepest respect for things of God.” Similar to our parish’s focus on Stewardship, our school also focuses on the virtue of Stewardship, “Returning to God the first fruits of your time, talent and treasure.”

As you can see, the theological virtues of Faith, Hope, and Charity correspond to essential virtues we can grow together in our students. How blessed we are to guide our families in the formation of their children!

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