So often, in our quest for improvement we find ourselves forward focused, and rightly so, as we move through a rigorous school calendar packed with activities. Reflecting on the best of what makes our Catholic schools unique and successful is every Catholic educator’s summer homework while recharging for the upcoming school year. I’d like to think that this exercise has been an important one for dedicated teachers and staff as they renew their commitment to the children of our present time.
A look back can also be helpful when realizing how we arrived through more than a century of Catholic education. One of the oldest and most treasured guiding forces in Catholic education is charism. We often don’t think of charism with regard to Catholic schools, however; charism is central to all schools in a unique way. Charism can be defined as, “a gift from the Holy Spirit given in a particular way to an individual or group to build the kingdom of God for the good of the church” (Our Charism, 2018).
Many of our schools were founded by religious orders who established a school mission on the theological traditions they felt best exemplified a sound model for moral, spiritual and intellectual development. Acting on a spiritual gift and calling, the religious orders put faith into action. When lay administrators accepted these positions of leadership in later years the charisms were carried forward in the unique mission of each school. Understanding this responsibility and privilege to activate and animate the charism is essential for those leading our students, and those committed to their faith formation in our Catholic schools. The gift of charism is fundamental to realizing what makes our schools Catholic and why they can’t be entirely compared to other schools.
Reflecting on the best of what makes our Catholic Schools unique helps us to realize the rich deposit of faith that has been left to our schools through religious orders devoted to instilling school missions with charism. This makes us stewards of an invaluable gift which we will bring safely through our own history into the future. We thank the original dreamers and architects of our schools for their sacrifices, vision, and especially charism.
Our Charism. (2018). Retrieved from www.carmelitesistersoed.com/our-charism/
Dr. Samuel Torres is Superintendent of Catholic Schools in the Diocese of San Bernardino.