The Institute for Catholic Education for Liberal Education posted the following from the Headmaster’s Office.  Even though I work primarily in a religious education program there are some good talking points.

The Marks of a Catholic School

Archbishop Michael Miller, former Secretary of the Sacred Congregation for Catholic Schools, has recently penned a “must-read” and easily readable book for all Catholic educators.  The Holy See’s Teaching on Catholic Schools faithfully summarizes the last fifty years of Magisterial documents on the Catholic school [Link to Magisterial Documents].  We strongly recommend that the entire faculty read and discuss this book together.  Board members should also be familiar with its contents.

Archbishop Miller teaches that Catholic schools should be:

1. Inspired by a Supernatural Vision

2. Founded on a Christian Anthropology

3. Animated by Communion and Community

4. Imbued with a Catholic Worldview

5. Sustained by the Witness of Teaching

The following excerpts from his work illustrate these five marks.

1. Inspired by a Supernatural Vision
The enduring foundation on which the Church builds her educational philosophy is the conviction that it is a process which forms the whole child, especially with his or her eyes fixed on the vision of God. The specific purpose of a Catholic education is the formation of boys and girls who will be good citizens of this world, enriching society with the leaven of the Gospel, but who will also be citizens of the world to come. Catholic schools have a straightforward goal: to foster the growth of good Catholic human beings who love God and neighbor and thus fulfill their destiny of becoming saints.

2. Founded on a Christian Anthropology
The Holy See’s documents insist that, to be worthy of its name, a Catholic school must be founded on Jesus Christ the Redeemer who, through his Incarnation, is united with each student. Christ is not an after-thought or an add-on to Catholic educational philosophy but the center and fulcrum of the entire enterprise, the light enlightening every pupil who comes into our schools (cf. Jn 1:9).

3. Animated by Communion and Community
A third important teaching on Catholic schools that has emerged in the Holy See’s documents in recent years is its emphasis on the community aspect of the Catholic school, a dimension rooted both in the social nature of the human person and the reality the Church as a “the home and the school of communion.” That the Catholic school is an educational community “is one of the most enriching developments for the contemporary school.

4. Imbued with a Catholic Worldview
A fourth distinctive characteristic of Catholic schools, which always finds a place in the Holy See’s teaching is this. Catholicism should permeate not just the class period of catechism or religious education, or the school’s pastoral activities, but the entire curriculum. The Vatican documents speak of “an integral education, an education which responds to all the needs of the human person.”

4.1 Search for Wisdom and Truth
In an age of information overload, Catholic schools must be especially attentive to the delicate balance between human experience and understanding. In the words of T.S. Eliot, we do not want our students to say: “We had the experience but missed the meaning.”

The greatest challenge to Catholic education in the United States today, and the greatest contribution that authentically Catholic education can make to American culture, is to restore to that culture the conviction that human beings can grasp the truth of things, and in grasping that truth can know their duties to God, to themselves and their neighbors.

4.2 Faith, Culture and Life
From the nature of the Catholic school also stems one of the most significant elements of its educational project: the synthesis of culture and faith. The endeavor to interweave reason and faith, which has become the heart of individual subjects, makes for unity, articulation and coordination, bringing forth within what is learnt in a school a Christian vision of the world, of life, of culture and of history.

5. Sustained by the Witness of Teaching
The careful hiring of men and women who enthusiastically endorse a Catholic ethos is, I would maintain, the primary way to foster a school’s catholicity. The reason for such concern about teachers is straightforward. Catholic education is strengthened by its “martyrs.”

What would you add?

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