The Catholic Education Summit

The Catholic Education Summit:<br/>Re-imagingin, Spirit-Filled

When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves, and they rested on each one of them. And they were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance.
Acts 2:1-4

The Gifts of the Holy Spirit...

Fear of the Lord, Piety, Fortitude, Knowledge, Understanding, Counsel, and Wisdom

The good news described in Acts and reflection on the Gifts of the Holy Spirit began the Catholic Education Summit with nearly 200 oncampus participants and 13 participants via the internet. Acts 2:1-4 provided inspiration as we set out to re-imagine Catholic education with specific emphasis on partnerships between Catholic colleges and universities and P-12 Catholic schools. Clearly, the Gifts of the Holy Spirit in the hearts of Catholic educators ignite an atmosphere where faith will be nourished and academic excellence for each child achieved.

Dr. Thomas Groome, internationally known author, theologian, and Boston College professor was the keynote speaker and began his presentation, Catholic Schools: Educating from and for Faith, by reminding the audience of the last words of the Risen Christ, “go make disciples” and “teach.” His reminder to university personnel, superintendents from many dioceses and archdioceses, principals, teachers, and philanthropists drew attention to the common mission shared by all present. Dr. Groome helped frame the curriculum of a Catholic school as “an anthropology through which all people are made and can grow in Divine Likeness.” Catholic schools “must educate the whole person, engage the soul, and develop all their capacities for life for all.” “Catholic schools should create a cosmology that nurtures a positive outlook on life in the world as meaningful and worthwhile — as sacramental.” “A sociology that promotes community and the common good of all and a Catholicity that forms people in concern and care without borders must also be hallmarks of Catholic schools.” Dr. Groome reminded Catholic educators of Jesus’ pedagogy, His overall dynamic to lead people from life to faith to (new) life. More specifically, Jesus engaged the everyday of people’s lives; fishing, farming, home. Jesus helped those who listened to reflect on their own reality, often to “see” in a whole new way. He taught His Gospel “with authority” (Mk 1:22). He encouraged people to “see for themselves” with conviction and invited them to make a decision for life, to follow His way as disciples.

Dr. Groome set the tone for the twelve concurrent sessions which included dynamic presenters sharing their research, daily work, knowledge and wisdom. Each presentation included a reverence for what was shared as God’s work. The Gift of the Holy Spirit, Fear of the Lord, is described as having reverence and respect for God’s will. Dr. Hunt’s description of the history of Catholic education and the themes that emerge through different cultures and times demonstrated the Lord’s consistent watch and attention to the institution created in many instances to preserve culture and, more importantly, the faith of people in a new place. Various presenters described their involvement in Catholic education as a call to serve others as the Gift of the Holy Spirit, Piety, is described. A sense of the Gift of Fortitude is also needed as challenges and obstacles must be overcome to fulfill the mission of Catholic schools. Drs. Dolph and Moore and Bro. Tom Oldenski, S.M. described leadership and mission and the integrated nature of these in the daily work of the Catholic school. Both presentations made clear the need to transform the hearts of Catholic educators and leaders and be certain they are armed with the needed skill and familiarity of the chosen mission.

Ryan Allen and Sister Angela Ann Zukowski called all to the Gift of Understanding. Each of their presentations brought to mind the need to hear God’s voice in every age and to creatively utilize new inventions for the good of our Catholic schools and individual students attending them. New means to develop faith and to achieve academically can be found through the world of technology that allows Catholic school educators the way to re-imagine connections, shared information, and necessary individual student attention.

Cindy Currell and other members in the Family Cafe presentation and Linda Russell, who discussed non-academic barriers to learning, connected with the Gifts of Counsel and Wisdom. The programs described offer support to students, families, teachers and leaders through collaborative community efforts at the school and regional levels. The Urban Child Development Resource Center brings trained experts to the life of the school to systematically infuse educational prevention programs and direct counseling and material resources to those in greatest need in Catholic schools. The Family Cafe project brings together community partners from public schools, Catholic schools, a community center, social agencies and the University to network parents and to empower them through social gatherings that ask critical questions about parenting and guidance.

The Excellence Initiative, the Community Partners group, and Professional Development for Early Childhood Educators presentations offered examples of the Gift of Knowledge. Each of these initiatives is an example of shared information, best practice and feedback that moved the education of students and/or care for their families forward.

The Catholic Education Summit concluded with remarks by Dr. Groome and responses from Dr. Karen Ristau, president of the National Catholic Educational Association; Dr. Kevin Kelly, Dean of the School of Education and Allied Professions; and Mrs. Karyn Hecker, Principal of Immaculate Conception School, Dayton, Ohio. Participants were asked to consider the impact of their day on their own faith lives and professional lives. Many agreed the day was inspiring and offered new means to re-imagine Catholic education to endow the common good in faith to life and new life to faith.

The Catholic Education Summit was generously supported by the Better Way Foundation. Their support and the support of other foundations enable programs highlighted at the Summit to have been established, to flourish, and to serve many who would not otherwise be served.

The next Catholic Education Summit at the University of Dayton will take place on July 12, 2013. Our topic will be urban Catholic education. We hope you will save the date and join us next summer!


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