The Importance of Sacramental Renewal In Catholic Education

No Catholic school just magically transforms itself. Ultimately it’s about individual teachers cooperating with the presence and power of the Holy Spirit. In practice, how does this happen? In this episode I want to share with you some thoughts about how sacramental renewal can powerfully change an entire school climate.

The Power of The Sacraments To Transform Every Catholic School

Well, hey everybody. Jonathan Doyle with you once again. Welcome friends to The Catholic Teacher Daily Podcast where ever you are on this magnificent big blue planet, hope you’re doing okay. Hope you realize that God is incredibly proud of what you do every single day as a Catholic teacher, I know you may not always feel it. I know when you get out of that classroom, at the end of the day you’re like, did this make a difference? Well, I don’t often speak for God, but I’ll have a go and I’m going to say, you know what it did. Even if you didn’t feel it did, and I did an episode recently where I said, when you get to heaven, you going to be shown everything you did and that it’s going to be awesome and you’re going to see the small things that you did that actually had a beautiful impact.

Listen, today in this short daily podcast, we’re going to send you some encouragement, some inspiration. I want to share with you a quote. This is from a one of my favorite sort of authors, me. No, actually it is. It’s from me. This is one that I framed yesterday and put out on a few places and I want to share it with you. It came out of me writing another episode of our Going Deeper Program, so I don’t know if you’ve heard of that or if you’re using it, Going Deeper is an online staff formation program for Catholic teachers. Hundreds of schools around the world use it every single week. So later on after the episode, go to You’re going to see a tab there for Going Deeper. There’s a three week free trial, so go grab it. Free and what have you got to lose, right?

So go check it out. So I was writing an episode for it and I ended up framing a thought. I was writing about the sacraments, I was writing about how central the sacramental life is to Catholic schools. So there’s a huge range here, isn’t there? There’ll be some schools where they do a liturgy at the start of the year and a liturgy at the end of the year, and that’s kind of about it. And then I’ve seen other schools where the liturgical life of that school is amazing. Some places, even daily mess or there’s adoration or there’s just a strong prayer life in the schools. So this liturgical sacramental life of a school is so powerful. And here’s the quote that I want to share with you. I said this, renewal, renewal in a Catholic school will always be linked to a renewal in the sacramental life of the people who work there.

One more time, renewal in a Catholic school will always be linked to a renewal in the sacramental life of the people who work there. You see, a long time ago I was doing episodes for the Going Deeper Program and I was studying the church documents in education and there was a whole sequence of paragraphs in the church documents about what they call, just environment. The environment of a Catholic school, the kind of atmosphere that pervades the whole school. And one thing that really stood out for me was imagine a school where you took the teachers out of it. There were no teachers. So there was desks and there was chairs and there was hallways and there was whiteboards and all that stuff and there was students, but there were no teachers. Now, of course, obviously that wouldn’t work, but what would the atmosphere of the school be like?

Well, there wouldn’t be one, right? There just wouldn’t be one. There’d be students wandering around going, well, what do we do? And these days we talk about online teaching and maybe schools are going to be replaced one day and it’ll all be online and digital, no. I mean, there’s a place for some of that but what this document was saying was that the environment of a Catholic school is created fundamentally by who or by the teachers because it’s the teachers that walk around and interact with students. It’s the teachers that set standards and provide encouragement and instruction and all of that stuff. There is no environment in a Catholic school if you take the teachers out of it. So teachers are just utterly central to the experience, the environment, the atmosphere, the whole reality of a Catholic school is powerfully shaped by who those teachers are.

So this quote that I was sharing was, if you want to see renewal in a Catholic school, what would that look like? I think it would be about vibrancy. I mean, you’ve been in one, right? You might be in one right now. I’ve been to some, I’ve seen, shout out to my good friend Vincent Spadoni, he’s not a principal right at the moment, but when he was, I went to a school in Washington and I was like, wow, this school just rocked. There was an energy, an atmosphere, a beauty about it. There was just vibrancy and I was really struck by it. And that’s the environment, that’s the atmosphere. So renewal is about this feeling, this beautiful energy, this love, this community that grows. So if you want to see renewal and there’s plenty schools that need it because I get a lot of messages from people going, I find my school really hard to work in.

We can all agree there’s some Catholic schools that are really struggling in the culture’s not great, so we want renewal. So how does it happen? Well, it’s not magical pixie fairy dust and unicorns, I’m not being silly. It’s not just something that magically happens. Renewal in a school happens because individual teachers are renewed and they’re renewed by the Holy Spirit. And where does the Holy Spirit tend to show up? Well, wherever it wants, because it’s the Holy Spirit, Amen. It’s a person, not an it, but renewal comes through the sacramental life. You see, it’s when Catholic teachers experience the Eucharist. It’s when Catholic teachers experience the beauty of sacramental confession and reconciliation, and the grace flows through them that they are made Holy and they’re made into saints. And then they teach differently and they talk differently and they act differently. So here’s a couple of basic things.

This is what I always teach in the live seminars, which is what? The Eucharist, the catechism says these very beautiful words, maybe you’ve heard them before. Maybe this is the first time, but I just think they’re phenomenal, I share them everywhere. The catechism of the Catholic church says that the Eucharist is the source and the summit of the Catholic faith. How simple is that to remember? Source and summit. Source and summit. The Eucharist is the source from which the entire Catholic church flows and it is the summit. It is the highest point that the Catholic church aims towards. So think about it. The Catholic church isn’t an ideology. It’s not a philosophical system. It’s about a relationship with a person and his name is Jesus and he is present in the Eucharist, body, blood, soul and divinity right there. So if we experience him, if we receive him in that Eucharist, then his grace, his presence, flows through that Eucharist into our very physical human bodies.

And it transforms us over time as does confessing sin, as does coming to Jesus going, look, I’ve got this wrong. I made a mistake here. I overreacted, I did this. There’s a problem in my life. It’s this. And receiving that healing, forgiveness has been such a crucial part of my life for many years. So friends, hear it one more time, renewal in a Catholic school will always be linked to a renewal in the sacramental life of the people who work there. So I just want to encourage you, whatever’s happening in your school at the moment, are there ways that the sacramental life could be deepened and renewed? Sometimes it just takes a couple of questions like contacting the local pastor or priest and saying, “Hey, can you do one mass for us a week that we could just come together as a staff?” Or maybe it’s a prayer and a rosary together or could there be a possible time of adoration in your chapel?

Maybe just 30 minutes once a week. Ask a priest, say, “Hey father, could you come in just for 30 minutes once a week and anybody that wants to go to confession could go.” Imagine that. Just a few people a week. Just having that beautiful reconciliation with Jesus. So these things aren’t going to happen if we don’t ask for them. So I want to wrap up now, but friends, renewal in your school is coming from renewal in the sacramental life of individual Catholic teachers. That’s it. All right. Do me a favor. Pull out your phone, go to Instagram if you use it, if you don’t use it. I know it’s a terrible thing and everyone hates it, but I just use it to bless people and encourage everybody. So if you’d like some encouragement and you’re using it, pull out your phone, Instagram, do a quick search.jonathandoyle47. Just do Jonathan Doyle 47 you’re going to find me there. Please, if you’re not part of our Facebook community, we have a beautiful group. It’s a closed group called Passionate Catholic Teachers, just jump on Facebook and type in Passionate Catholic Teachers.. You’re going to find us there. Everything else, the website and of course, remember, my American listeners and even anywhere else in the world. I want you to go to because I’m doing the keynote for 10,000 of my closest friends in Baltimore, Maryland in April 2020 and it is an amazing event. 10,000 Catholic teachers, how good is that? Come and join us, Check out the convention. I’m going to be there. I love meeting people, so if you’re coming, come and tackle me and I mean figuratively. I mean my arms is broken at the moment. Some of you know that, I’ve had a bad accident.

Don’t tackle me. Just come and say hi. It’d be great to meet you. All right friends, God bless and I’m going to pray for you. Father God, bless the teachers listening right now. Thank you for what they do. Thank you for who they are. Thank you for their yes. Holy Spirit, I ask you just to encourage them, to strengthen them, to give them creativity, energy, love for the young people they serve in Jesus name, Amen. Everybody, God bless you. Make sure you’ve subscribed to the podcast. Could you share it with some people? My name’s Jonathan Doyle. This has been The Catholic Teacher Daily Podcast. We do it every day and I’m going to 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.