June 23, 2023

Verbatim: Excerpt from OCSTA's 2010 publication “Becoming a Catholic School Trustee”


Both public and Catholic schools strive for the common goals of academic excellence and education of high quality. Both systems teach students necessary life skills and prepare them for postsecondary education, for the workplace and for their role as responsible citizens. Despite these common goals, however, a Catholic school differs from a public school in both foundation and substance.

Catholic schools are not alternate public schools. ... Catholic schools not only provide religious instruction, teach Gospel values and display religious symbols but, most importantly, create a Catholic learning culture which speaks a language echoing the mystery of God. The Catholic school is an integral part of the Church’s mission to evangelize youth. Catholic parents freely choose to send their children to Catholic schools with the full expectation that they will be socialized into a faith community in which the person and message of Jesus is central to instruction in all subject areas...

The Catholic school is a faith community in which spirituality and practice of faith are lived out in the daily experiences of staff and students...

Spiritual formation is nurtured by the environment of the classroom and the school. It is a place where religious symbols are displayed and respected and expressions of prayer, scripture and liturgy are a part of daily life. It is important, therefore, that trustees, supervisory personnel, individuals in positions of responsibility and the teaching staff understand, are committed to and exemplify the vision of Catholic education.

Our distinctive character is in our vision of stewardship, extending God’s presence into society. It is our hope that our graduates will transform society. By their presence and their faith, they will continue the mission of our schools and help bring the Gospel message to all.

Catholic schools exist because families want to pass on to their children the values, culture, tradition and meaning of their faith. Parents regard these as the greatest gifts they can give to their children.

Our schools are distinctive, not because they are academically or morally superior to others. Their distinctiveness lies in their interpretation of all aspects of the human journey in light of the way life is revealed in the person and message of Jesus Christ. Our secular society makes the human person the measure of all things. Catholic schools provide the spiritual and transcendent dimension which says that God is ultimately the measure and meaning of life.

In a society in which an endless array of secular values compete for the attention of our young people, Catholic schools provide a compass and a direction that reinforces the spiritual sense of life which believing families wish to share with their children. Catholic education is “value added” education. It brings to the process of educating young people a sense of consistency and coherence. This added dimension is made possible by the faith and commitment of teachers and a curriculum rooted in Gospel values.

The perspective of life which Catholic education provides to its graduates is of benefit not only to them, their families and their Church, but to the common good of all citizens. Catholic schools are a gift which believing people wish to share with their children….

Catholic trustees are entrusted with the significant responsibility of stewardship of the mission of Catholic education. This involves ensuring and safeguarding the integrity of the Catholic school system which is based on the religious ideals of our Catholic faith, and is dedicated to sharing Gospel values through the life and programs in our schools….

It is the responsibility of the Catholic school board to ensure that the goals of Catholic education and the religious dimension upon which our schools are founded are maintained as first priorities, always in clear focus, never sacrificed or compromised.

(Verbatim is a weekly feature of The Catholic Register. Texts are edited only for conformity of style and brevity.)

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