|September 23, 2013 • VOL. 51, NO. 16 • Oakland, CA|
In their own words
The Catholic Voice asked principals of the nine Catholic high schools in the Diocese of Oakland: How do you foster the Catholic identity in your high school?
Carondelet High School
The Catholic identity of Carondelet High School reflects the life and mission of Jesus Christ and the charism of its founders — the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet. Above all, Carondelet strives to be a Catholic community which teaches and models the CSJ charism of loving God and neighbor without distinction.
We select teachers who will model Catholic values for our students and we provide an environment that recognizes that intellectual development and Christian formation go hand-in-hand. We seek to foster this formation through our four-year retreat program, our commitment to vibrant and inclusive all-school liturgies, our development of Catholic leaders, and our unwavering commitment to social justice and community service.
We serve the poor and marginalized of our community in tangible ways through our food and clothing drives, our support of Get on the Bus prison ministry, the Monument Crisis Center and our annual "St. Marty's Party" Halloween party for the students of St. Martin de Porres Elementary in Oakland. Additionally, we foster solidarity with the poor through the time our students spend in San Francisco's Tenderloin neighborhood with the homeless and with the migrant community in the Salinas Valley.
We flourish as Catholic Christians because of the many opportunities we take to build ourselves up as a community among our students, our faculty, and our families. Catholic School Week activities, dances, rallies and constructing homecoming skits also serve to foster our identity as an inclusive and dynamic Catholic community. Additionally, students help other students through peer counseling and peer tutoring programs.
Most of what we do to foster Catholic Identity comes from the relationships we foster among students and adults and the little things that happen day to day. Living the Gospel is part of our everyday life … it's quite simply who we are.
Brother Robert J. Wickman, FSC
De La Salle High School
I propose my "5-P" Plan:
PRAYER. We begin each class with the invitation, "Let us remember that we are in the holy presence of God." This reminds students throughout the day that, whatever our activity, God is always present with His love, challenge, and comfort. This form of prayer, coming from St. La Salle, leads us to a sense of gratitude that we always live with God as our divine companion and forms us to serve God's People.
PERSONNEL. It is in the person of the Lasallian educator, Christian Brothers and Partners, that the good news of Jesus is made known to our students. Indeed, St. La Salle asked his first Brothers to serve as ambassadors of Christ, guardian angels, and older brothers to the students we love, instruct, and guide.
PLANT. Our architecture and décor are intentional reminders that we are a Catholic, Lasallian community. In every classroom is a crucifix, a mission statement and a poster explicating the core principles of Lasallian education. In the central Court, a cross and banners invite us to prayer and reflection.
PROGRAMS. Our religion classes, retreats, service opportunities, and school Masses and other prayer gatherings tend the mind, the soul, and the spirit and are deeply anchored in the Catholic tradition and Lasallian heritage. So, too, our full academic program and co-curricular teams and clubs all offer students challenging ways to encounter the world and see Christ in that world.
PENNIES. Our budget reflects our priority as a Catholic, Lasallian school to provide access and equity to needy students through robust levels of financial aid. Our budget provides deep support to meet the expectation of the Church that our programs and services be exemplary in building student learning and that our faculty be well-trained and justly compensated.
Holy Names High School
We are fortunate at Holy Names High School to be a sponsored work of the Sisters of the Holy Names. Our Catholic identity is linked deeply with the Sisters and the foundress of the order, Blessed Marie Rose Durocher. Blessed Marie Rose felt a deep calling to reach out to those on the margins of society, those with limited opportunity, and through education in the faith as well as formation of the intellect to enable them to fully enact and inhabit their human potential. She held deeply that care for and development of the heart and soul as well as the mind is the true mission and purpose of education. First we must see the dignity and divinity within the self before we can see it in another. It is then we sense the kinship and union of humanity and we can make real the Kingdom of God.
Based on this foundation, we at Holy Names High School know that a fundamental part of our Catholic identity centers on being the compassionate face of God to others, seeing our brother Jesus in the faces of those around us, and affirming the dignity of all creation with our words and deeds. Through our service programs, our girls have served with communities of migrant workers, fed the homeless, reduced plastic consumption on campus and promoted awareness of human trafficking. Through our Campus Ministry Team, our girls minister to our whole school community through prayer services, reconciliation services, retreats and planning Masses. In the spirit of Blessed Marie Rose's favorite passage from scripture, Holy Names women are alive with the fire of love and compassion to bring change to the community!
Moreau Catholic High School
Tortorich, who became principal this year, shares a statement by Joe Hudelson, assistant principal for student support:
"We shall always place education side by side with instruction; the mind will not be cultivated at the expense of the heart. While we prepare useful citizens for society, we shall likewise do our utmost to prepare citizens for heaven."
— Blessed Basil Moreau, CSC
Catholicism is about service to others, living a spirit of community, embracing beautiful traditions, and living with the joy of knowing that God loves us. Walking around campus at Moreau Catholic, one can feel the palpable spirit of that joy in the air—the special daily celebration of learning, serving, creating and playing.
How we foster this Catholicity, however, is through a variety of celebrations of faith experiences — through our retreat program, liturgies, our sportsmanship, our visual and performing arts programs, and our caring faculty and staff. Our faculty and staff are, as stated on our website: "key components of this aspect of Campus Ministry. They model not perfection, but a struggle to live faithfully in a complex and unfinished world." They embody Blessed Basil's statement about educating both the hearts and the minds of our students. With stellar academics, impactful service opportunities, outstanding extracurricular activities and an athletic program that boasts over 75 percent student participation, Moreau Catholic empowers students to be faith-filled, intellectual, positive, ethical and respectful young leaders in a rapidly changing world.
As a Catholic school in the Holy Cross tradition, we recognize that Faith, Hope and Love are at the core of how we teach. The light of reason — the mind — illuminates the pathway to God, and through the Cross, or the Hope found in Christ's suffering and resurrection, we have nothing to fear. This is our faith—the heart—that guides us to that very life of joy.
Salesian High School
At Salesian High School, Catholic identity is fostered in all we do. Each morning, the school day begins with a ritual. Teachers greet students, then Father Mel Trinidad, SDB, offers an introductory morning reflection and prayer. Throughout the day, teachers and students lead classroom prayer to invite students into the mystery of our relationship with God and our desire to give service.
Salesian spirituality permeates our three-day Triduum experience at the beginning of each school year. This Triduum experience of reflection, reconciliation and prayer is traditionally practiced by all Salesian schools throughout the world. During this time, students and faculty alike reflect on St. John Bosco's educational philosophy of reason, religion and loving-kindness.
Salesian spirituality places emphasis on service. For this reason, our students are engaged in community projects throughout the year. Every spring, the entire student body, faculty and staff divide into faith families for a hands-on project such as assisting at local elementary schools, cleaning parks or visiting the elderly. At the end of the day we share our faith-in-action experiences to understand the spiritual nature of our service. Our faith, our belief, and our philosophy are put into action. This is who we are as Salesians.
St. Elizabeth High School
At St. Elizabeth High School, Catholic identity is extremely important. The school has a Jesuit Chaplain, plus one Franciscan Brother helping students with their social action projects. Three Dominican Sisters (one full-time, two part-time volunteers) add to the obvious Catholic identity, as well.
Every class has a retreat program that is capped off with the Kairos retreat for seniors. This year, the Kairos retreat was held before school opened and the result has been a closer, more harmonious senior class, students who obviously care for each other and are all connected with the school. The resulting very positive atmosphere speaks volumes about students who have taken to heart Christ's message, "Love one another!"
The stress on Catholic Social Teaching in the curriculum is evidenced in the lives of the students. The 15 Campus Ministers and student leaders who attended the diocesan social action program during the summer found the experience moving and in some cases life-changing. A justice action project is a part of the junior religion program.
All religion classes, in addition to the prescribed curriculum, provide instruction about different prayer styles and offer opportunities for students to find the manner of prayer that fits their needs the best. A faculty member offers a Bible study class at lunch in the newly refurbished chapel for any students who wish to expand their knowledge of scripture.
Catholic identity is really important for students at SEH.
St. Joseph Notre Dame High School
At SJND, where over 70 percent of our students are Catholic, our identity as a Catholic high school is fostered through physical, curricular and co-curricular ways. As the only parish high school in the Diocese of Oakland, we enjoy a close relationship with St. Joseph Parish here in Alameda and are blessed to be able to hold our liturgies and prayer services in St. Joseph Basilica. Our four-year theology graduation requirement ensures that our students understand the basics of our Catholic faith as well as provides them with options such as philosophy and world religions.
The most important way we walk with our students on their journey of faith and spiritual development is our comprehensive four-year retreat program. With a required retreat each year, our retreat program seeks to help our students understand themselves, experience the world outside of our school community and foster a community relationship among their classmates. The retreats culminate with their Kairos senior retreat, a four-day experience that our seniors attend together as one class which helps students understand God's love for them and bond the seniors together as a class.
Our sense of family and community among our students and teachers is a daily manifestation of our Catholic identity as we strive to answer the challenge of our school's mission statement to "develop confident open-minded, generous leaders who are ready to live lives of faith, scholarship and service."
Saint Mary's College High School
To see all things with the eyes of faith…
Saint Mary's College High School exists as a community of faith where all its students feel the support —and the challenge — of a Christ-centered community. We pursue academic excellence for all students; our challenging college-preparatory curriculum surpasses college entrance requirements and addresses additional contemporary needs. We educate students to be curious, ask thoughtful questions, access and analyze information, work and communicate with others, and adapt skills to new situations.
The Church teaches that our calling as educators is a shared ministry with parents, who are the primary educators of their children. Our Catholic heritage teaches us that academic excellence alone is insufficient for building a community. We explicitly use the wisdom of the Church for understanding our world and our place in it in both our curriculum and in our co-curricular activities. We honor the traditions of many cultures, we work to eliminate barriers that divide people, and we learn from each other, for it is in community that we live closest to God.
We teach that Christ's love is present in the world, in each other — especially in students entrusted to our care. This life-affirming faith animates our relationships and all aspects of our work as educators. Our Catholic identity is particularly manifested in our commitment to educating students from underprivileged living situations. It guides our work in raising awareness of the conditions facing the poor and marginalized. At Saint Mary's, we embrace the belief that each person is made in God's image and is worthy of unconditional respect.
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