A test: Is my school Catholic?

Archbishop Gregory Aymond addressed thousands of educational leaders in the Archdiocese of New Orleans Nov. 6 at “A Day of Formation for Catholic School Administrators and Teachers” at the Pontchartrain Center in Kenner. Here is an outline of his remarks on Catholic identity:

1. Is our school a good school?

– Do we strive for excellence in education?

– Are we tempted to settle for mediocrity?

2. Does our school have a Christian atmosphere?

– In walking into our school, would someone recognize it as a “Catholic School”? (crucifixes, statues)

– Do members of the community (administrators, faculty, staff, students, families) show respect, forgiveness to one another?

– How do we deal honestly with pettiness, power struggles, factions among faculty, parents…?

3. Is our Catholic faith talked about and celebrated with reverence?

– Is “Catholic” in the mission statement of our school?

– Is “Catholic” mentioned in the promotional materials for  our school?

4. Is religion/theology taught well?

– Are religion/theology teachers certified, hold the appropriate degrees in theology, well prepared?

– Do religion/theology teachers participate in “continuing education”?

– Is religion/theology taught daily?

– Are all members of the faculty aware of what is taught in religion class?

5. Does our school program include regular:

– Mass (with student participation)

– Prayer Services

– Opportunities for the Sacrament of Reconciliation

– Daily prayer

– Retreats

– Days of prayer

– Shared prayer

– Seasonal Devotions (Advent wreath, Way of the Cross)

6. Are religious activities given a priority in the school schedule?

7. Does our school budget see faith formation as important?

– How much money is spent on religion/theology in comparison to English, math, athletics?

– Do we buy new theological resources regularly?

– Is the technology we are using “up to date”?

8. Does our school encourage reaching out to those in need of assistance?

– Do we have a mission program – Mission Childhood Association? Pontifical Mission Societies? Has a mission moderator been appointed?

– Do we have programs that give experience of living out the church’s teaching on social justice? (Service hours)

– Do we give scholarships to those in need of assistance?

– Do we serve those with disabilities?

9. In our school, do we talk about vocations?

– Do we value the vocation of marriage and the importance of Christian family life?

– Do we hold up single life as vocation?

– Do we talk about and foster vocations to the priesthood and consecrated life (as sisters and brothers)?

10. Do we teach human sexuality effectively?

– Is our teaching based on Catholic morality?

– Are all teachers aware of Catholic moral teaching?

11. Do we as faculty and administrators foster the faith life of the parents of our students?

12. Does the faculty and staff pray together? (not just a “prayer” before the meeting or a meal)?

– Do we celebrate Mass together?

– Do we have days of prayer for the faculty and staff?

13. Does our school board support in principle and in finances the Catholic identity of the school?

– Is this a priority of the board?

14. In our hiring policies do we hire:

– Faith-filled Catholics

– Non-Catholics who value and will uphold the Catholic mission of the school?

– Do we resist change or do we believe change is good and can lead to progress?

– Are we open to new ideas and new ways of teaching?

– Are we open to new ways of doing faith formation?

Conclusion

The topics discussed in this presentation align with  the national standards and benchmarks for Catholic  identity.

Please give yourself credit for what you are doing well.

Please be open to improving any areas that need growth.

Thanks for your commitment to Catholic education! The church needs you.

Questions for Archbishop Aymond may be sent to clarionherald@clarionherald.org.

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