by Dr. Joseph D. Hollowell, 2 yrs ago
Leadership experts tell us that it is imperative that thriving organizations have a purpose that is well defined and clearly understood by all of the stakeholders of the organization. It seems fitting for us then, at the beginning of a new year, to reflect once again on the nature of our work. Through avenues such as this article, we continue the never-ending process of helping our stakeholders - parents, students, alumni, teachers, pastors, board members, and business community to name a few – to better understand our mission.
Let me start by saying that we believe our students to be created by the Lord of the Universe who has given each of them a hint of His divine nature by creating them in His image and likeness. This “divine spark” breathed into us by the Creator tells us that each of us has the destiny of living with Him in an eternal kingdom. Of this kingdom St. Paul says, “no eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived” the glory that awaits us. What that tells us about our students is that we are seriously misguided to ever see them as anything other than eternal beings capable of attaining their loftiest aspirations and dreams. They are truly children of God!
We also believe that each of them has a very special and unique set of gifts that God has bestowed upon them. That these gifts sometimes lie unopened for a lifetime is one of the great tragedies of humanity. It is indeed a pointed reminder of our fallen nature. Each of these precious gifts has been given to be developed and nurtured so that they may be shared with the world. My dear friend and confidante, the late Msgr. Richard Lawler, once told our board, “Each of us brings a piece of the truth to the table tonight. It is important to share it.” When our piece of the truth is withheld we have a dimmed view of all that God wants us to see.
This idea applies to more than board meetings. When we do not share that “piece of the truth”, when we do not share the unique gifts that God has given us, when we miss an opportunity to love another person, we withhold a gift that God intended to bestow upon the world. And thus, the world knows a little bit less of God and His love.
Our task, then, is as follows. First, we must awaken in the minds of our students the understanding of who they are as children of God. We must train them to see that they have special talents and abilities that are unique to them. The high school serves as a great place to explore a wide array of interests and gifts. Our students should also begin to learn the discipline and commitment necessary to develop these gifts to the fullest. Finally, before students have graduated, we must have given them a variety of experiences so they know what it is like to begin to share those gifts with the world.
The beauty of our work as a Catholic school is that we can focus on the true nature of humanity. We are so much more than minds that can learn and bodies that can perform. We are creatures of spirit destined for eternity, called to love, and called to serve through the sharing of our God-given gifts. To attempt to teach this in an environment that does not allow us to acknowledge God as the source of our lives is a handicap of the greatest order. To teach this in an environment that does not let us publicly call on Him in prayer daily, or even hourly, to help us learn His plan for us is a task no teacher can accomplish.
I praise God for our Catholic schools. I give thanks that our mission is clear. I am thankful that so many support it.