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Catholic schools for future saints

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This year teachers and students at St Peter Chanel chose a patron saint for each grade level in our school and we dedicated each space and each key learning area to a saint. Photo: Supplied
This year teachers and students at St Peter Chanel chose a patron saint for each grade level in our school and we dedicated each space and each key learning area to a saint. Photo: Supplied

What do you desire? This question is asked of each Dominican when we receive the habit of the order.

While the prescribed response is “the mercy of God and yours,” this question speaks to the existential orientation of the human heart. What do you desire?

One of our Year 4 students asked this week, “How do we know that God is real?”

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After sharing with her a simplified version of Aquinas’ arguments for God’s existence, I appealed to desire.

Everyone, no matter how young or old, is searching for the fulfilment of their desires.

In this life, the search will always come up short. Prior to his conversion, St Augustine sought to quench the longings of his heart in unlimited self-determination.

Post-conversion he wrote, “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in you.”

As we think about the saints during November, Catholic schools are reminded to recommit themselves to the mission of holiness.

One of the main purposes of Catholic education is to produce saints. This goal is not some airy-fairy concept but a supernatural vision that drives every decision, from strategic planning to daily management.

The task entrusted to schools by the church through the local bishop is about forming students (as well as staff and families) to become fully who they were created to be, to help them flourish as they develop and use their God given gifts and talents.

When asked how to become a saint, St Thomas Aquinas replied simply: “Will it.”

With God’s grace, we must make intentional, conscious choices in living the virtuous life. As we daily conform our life to Jesus, we become what we desire so that “it is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me” (Gal.2:20).

This divine transformation is the nobility to which each of us is called.

This month provides the perfect opportunity to cultivate the desire for all this is true, good, beautiful, in the journey of life.

Education is not primarily about knowledge and skills, however valuable and necessary they are. Rather, it is primarily about character and virtue which produce good citizens of this world and the next.

How do we culture this desire for holiness in our school communities? One way is to explore the lives of our heavenly role models.

They struggled with every issue we encounter. They were young and old, rich and poor, healthy and sick, women and men, learned and simple.

They show us by their life and death that something real is at stake in the adventure of life, that there is something worth living for and dying for.

This year teachers and students at St Peter Chanel chose a patron saint for each grade level in our school and we dedicated each space and each key learning area to a saint.

For example, Year 3 chose St Padre Pio as their patron saint because of his love for the sacrament of reconciliation.

This holy man can intercede for them in a special way as they prepare to receive this sacrament.

As another example, we chose St John Paul II as patron of PDHPE as he taught a renewed understanding of the human body (and because of his love for everything outdoors).

Surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, we hope to cultivate our desire to continually seek God’s face until we are with Him for all eternity.

All you holy men and women, pray for us!

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