The purpose of Catholic education is to provide each student with a unique encounter with Christ by means of his or her formal schooling. Catholic education has the obligation to balance faith and reason by developing the whole child: mind, body and soul. Through this formation, Catholic education not only seeks to yield productive citizens of society but also, more importantly, to form faithful and merciful servants of the church.
In this process, it is the duty of every faculty member, staff member and stakeholder to model the Gospel of Christ, the love of the Father and the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Because we are the body of Christ, we have the sacred obligation to invite others to encounter Christ through our daily actions. This is the climate and culture that must permeate throughout Catholic education.
By forming the child in the image of Christ, we are building up the community of believers and empowering the church to carry out her mission for the salvation of souls. Just as the Father sent the Son to spread the mercy of his love in order to welcome souls into his heavenly kingdom, so must we prepare the hearts and souls of every child to take this message to the world as well.
Catholic education must have a careful balance of both faith and reason; together, these important components equally transform the mind and heart of the student, allowing him or her to fulfill their calling to know, love and serve both God and neighbor.
Creating a well-balanced environment of faith and reason enables the intellect and will to reach their end goals, for the intellect must be formed to seek truth, and the will must be formed to seek love. Only through the balance of faith and reason set forth in Catholic education do we find the proper setting for both the intellect and will to search for the highest good and greatest happiness obtainable – the Father’s eternal presence.
It is the task of Catholic education to make sure that each child has the opportunity to reach his or her fullest potential by giving that child the opportunity to explore the gifts and talents their Father has bestowed upon each one of them. Through these gifts, Catholic education is then given the challenge to mentor each child to show how those gifts are best utilized when sacrificed and given to help others.
Through the example of the lives of the saints, we can inspire our children to similarly use their gifts and talents to accomplish a life of sanctity. These saints were given unique and special gifts by the Father like all of us, but these holy men and women chose to use their gifts to glorify the Kingdom of God on earth. Catholic education should lead students to do likewise.
Furthermore, educators must challenge each student to live a sacramental life by providing the sacraments as an integral part of the culture and climate of the school community.
Catholic education has the duty to provide the best education possible in order to ensure children’s success in their next stage of education and life. Catholic educators must also work to ensure that we are providing each student with the essential skills necessary to be citizens of character, integrity and compassion for the common good of others.
Furthermore, Catholic education is called to provide academic rigor in order to challenge each student in all subjects of study.
Ultimately, Catholic education has the end goal of promoting truth in love, forming students’ hearts and souls so that he or she is equipped take the Gospel message out into the world. This notion is promoted by the following proclamation: “Let it be known to all who enter here that Jesus Christ is the reason for this school, the unseen but ever-present teacher in all its classes, the model of its faculty and the inspiration for its students.”
These words should not simply be present on billboards and placards around our schools, but must also be present in the hearts of all stakeholders, ensuring that each Catholic school can fulfill its obligation as set forth by the Gospel.
Thomas E. Huck is the new principal of St. Benilde School in Metairie.