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Center for Catholic Education at UD

Catholic Schools Week Reflection

By Mariam Couri

The last Sunday in January marks the beginning of Catholic Schools Week, the annual celebration of Catholic Education in the United States. It is a week-long celebration of the influence and legacy of Catholic Education in the country and allows for students, faculty, families, parishioners, and community members to come together in communion. The theme for Catholic Schools Week 2022 is “Catholic Schools: Faith. Excellence. Service.”

Some of the best representations of these characteristics can be found in the educators at these schools. Teachers and faculty are tasked with the formation of students both in scholarly aspects as well as spiritual and moral development. Teaching no matter the school, requires endurance of multiple crosses and trials that are assisted by numerous graces and virtues.

Below are the stories of three Catholic saints who followed Gods call for teaching and often went against society’s mainstream policies to deliver impactful and necessary lessons to their students. 

Saint Cassian of Imola

A 4th century Christian teacher who was condemned to death after refusing to pay homage to the pagan, Roman gods (Bellon). As extreme punishment the Roman leaders required his students to be the ones to carry out his death sentence by stabbing him with iron styli (a writing tool commonly used in this time). Saint Cassian demonstrates the patience and humility necessary to deal with difficult students. He also exemplifies the theme of faith in Catholic teaching. He chose an unwavering stance when confronted about his Christian religion and refused to condone to popular alternatives.

Saint Francis de Sales

Saint Francis de Sales was a Catholic Bishop who devoted his time to teaching the “elite” of society (Bellon). He chose to do so because he saw that these souls had a “particular aptitude for spirituality” and he desired to foster their growth and development as children of God. A majority of the students that he deemed “elite” were women and thus he received much hatred and distrust for choosing to educate and empower women during the 16th century (Bellon). His work illustrates the excellence that is crucial to Catholic education. He ensured that students with extraordinary capabilities were given the opportunity and guidance to further their success just as Catholic schools work to provide excellence in all aspects of growth.

Saint Albert the Great

Saint Albert was a Dominican Friar during the 13th century. He was known for his positive relationships with his students and consistently encouraged them to look at issues from numerous perspectives in order to properly master what they were studying (Bellon). Saint Albert’s most famous student was Thomas Aquinas and the influence of his teaching method can be seen in Aquinas’s work the Summa Theologica (Bellon). Saint Albert’s mission of ensuring his students received an all-encompassing education mimics the mission of Catholic schools commitment to service for all of their students.

Each of these saints boldly illustrate one of the three themes of Catholic Schools Week: Faith, Excellence, and Service. As we enter the celebration of Catholic Schools Week let us take some time to reflect on some small ways we can incorporate faith, excellence, and service into our own lives.

How can I work towards excellence in my daily life, especially in mundane or seemingly unsubstantial tasks?

In what ways can I intentionally serve others through guidance and leadership?

What steps have I taken today to deliberately grow my personal prayer life and commitment to Christ?

Sources:

https://blessedisshe.net/blog/litany-saints-teachers/ 

Edited by Ava Gravino. 

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