Creating a Catholic School Culture

Catholic school culture is a crucial aspect of what makes any school a snapshot of heaven or a picture of… well, you get the idea! In this episode I want to talk about how teachers do so much to create Catholic school culture and build an authentic Catholic environment. I also want to share with you another great Advent quote from Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

How Teachers Create The Environment Of A School

Well, hey everybody. Jonathan Doyle with you as always for The Catholic Teacher Daily Podcast. Hope you’re doing well. Hope you’re getting ready for the upcoming Christmas season. Busy time of the year for Catholic teachers all over the world in the Southern hemisphere, they’re finishing up the school year. They’re getting reports all done and they’re taking some deep breaths. We are had a beautiful experience yesterday. My eldest child has just finished primary school, elementary school for my U.S. Listeners. And this school has just been extraordinary. It has been the most wonderful, little school and it has just been such a blessing. And for me, it’s kind of ticked every box, you know? Great Christian Catholic schools should be like families, really functional families that celebrate with each other, that experience joy with each other, that definitely have moments of challenge and growth. But this has been a really special school and with a wonderful principal, she’s just done an incredible job of loving young people. That’s what she does. She’s full of joy. She’s full of energy and she loves Jesus and she loves young people and she’s just blessed so many lives. So we had the farewell yesterday. it was very poignant, just to come to the end of a beautiful season. And I just want to encourage you that our daughter, our oldest daughter, when we moved her to this school and where she had been was a challenge for her. And this new school was just such a blessing. So I want encourage you all as you listen, that you’re doing something really important. You’re doing something really special.

How do you think a Catholic school sort of gets built? You know, the church documents talk about the teachers create the environment. I mean, how else could the environment within a Catholic school possibly exist other than Catholic teachers creating it? Think about it. If you took Catholic teachers out of a Catholic school, so the students turned up, there were desks, there were chairs, there were boards, there was maybe some people were just walking around to keep them under control but there were no teachers, then there would be no environment. There would be no expectations. There’d be no love, there’d be no celebration, there’d be no encouragement. So if you take teachers out of that school, there’s no Christian Catholic environment. Isn’t that amazing to realize that it’s actually you that creates the environment of the school. And I know you’re listening and you’re thinking, but I’m not the principal. I don’t get to create the environment. Yes you do. Well, even if I could, the principal’s terrible and the atmosphere is bad and the motivation’s low. Okay, cool. Maybe for everyone else, but not for you.

You’re not like a robot, you still have the chance to contribute what you can contribute. You still have the challenge to smile rather than not smile. You still have a chance to speak a word of encouragement rather than a word of criticism. So we need to worry so much less about what everybody else around us might be doing and focus much more on what God’s trying to do through us. You see, often I used to say in seminars, that if you’ve got 50 teachers in a school and 20 of those have a relationship with Jesus, you get one kind of school. If you’ve got a school with 25 teachers with a deep faith, you get a different kind of school. You get a school with 50 teachers with a different relationship with Jesus, you get a different kind of school. What’s the point? That really what makes a great Catholic school is about the number of teachers in that school that have a relationship with Jesus and have faith and have the Holy spirit working through them. So don’t worry too much friends about whatever’s happened around you. Just focus on what God’s doing in your heart and your life. You know today, many of you know I’ve had a bad accident and I can’t drive for a while, so I walked down to morning mass and I always share that never … There’s no party here. There’s no like, “Oh look at Jonathan. He goes to daily mass.” I do when I can, whenever I can in the world. Why? Because I’m not smart and I just go with the graces and it’s not fancy. I just go with the graces and there’s a beautiful grace in the Eucharist and then praying the rosary afterwards.

Just praying for people and meditating on those mysteries. What’s the point? That to be great Catholic educators, we need grace. Where’s the grace? Well, it’s in the sacraments and it’s in prayer and it’s in stillness and it’s in silence. So to create these great environments, let’s remember that we need to be in places of deep prayer and sacrament because that’s how the grace flows through us to others, right? I want to finish up, we’re an Advent and I’m doing daily quotes an advent. I love this one. Listen to this quite carefully. It says this, this is from Dietrich Bonhoeffer, many of you would know Bonhoeffer. Here it is, a prison cell in which one waits, hopes and is completely dependent on the fact that the door of freedom has to be opened from the outside is not a bad picture of Advent. One more time quickly, a prison cell in which one waits, hopes and is completely dependent on the fact that the door of freedom has to be opened from the outside is not a bad picture of Advent. Friends that his gold. Do you get that image? It’s like if you’re stuck in prison cell, there’s a realization that the door of freedom is beyond your control. That there’s nothing you can do from inside to open that prison door. What’s the metaphor? Bonhoeffer’s saying to us that this was the human condition before the incarnation? Yes, there was the profits. Yes, there was God’s action leading people through the Red Sea, leading Israel out of bondage. That’s true. But they see images that we were still slaves to sin and we couldn’t free ourselves and we couldn’t get out. So really, like I said in a previous episode, CS Lewis said that the incarnation is a daring raid on enemy held territory. And Bonhoeffer reminds us that really Advent is this realization that we can’t open the door ourselves, that someone is coming to open the door, someone is coming to throw open the door of bondage and open the door of freedom, that’s Advent. Christmas day is this liturgical reminder every year that he is come and that freedom has come and that he has opened the way to the father. And that’s good news to share with young people. That is good news to share with Catholic students.

So I hope you like that quote. I hope it’s useful for you. I want to wrap up. We always keep these nice and short. Okay, I’m going to pray with you. Father, I just pray for every Catholic teacher listening to right now. Bless them, guide them, sustain them. Holy spirit, flow through them in Jesus name. Amen. All right, come and follow me. Instagram, jonathandoyle47. Twitter @beingcatholic1 , and of course, come and find our Facebook group, The Catholic Teacher Daily Podcast. It’s a great group. Love you to come and join there. That’s it for me. Make sure you’ve subscribed. Please share this with other Catholic teachers. My name is Jonathan Doyle. This has been The Catholic Teacher Daily Podcast, and I’ll have another message for you tomorrow.

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One Catholic Teacher exists to inspire, encourage and support Catholic teachers around the world. Each day Jonathan Doyle offers a short dose of formation and encouragement via The Catholic Teacher Daily Podcast. Jonathan is also a global speaker and author on all issues related to Catholic Education.