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School Article: Beyond Just the Basics - May 2017

The Northern Cross - May 2017
Catholic Education: Beyond Just the Basics

Jean Virant Guest columnist

The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that “all Christians in any state or walk of life are called to the fullness of Christian life and to the perfection of charity.” All are called to holiness: “Be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (2013).

The call to holiness is a universal one for all people of all ages. It follows then, that among the most important duties shared by parents and Catholic school teachers alike is to help children to develop virtue, and through virtue, to attain holiness. The fundamental first step in this process is to foster and encourage a personal relationship with Jesus through prayer and the sacraments.

Next adults must model holiness and virtue themselves through the many ways they express faith and love in words and actions, “Love one another as I have loved you” (John 15:12). An excellent article by New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan, published in the Oct. 29, 2013, issue of Our Sunday Visitor online, outlines several vital steps that will assist each of us in attaining this goal.

In keeping with this great mandate, Marquette Catholic School, with the guidance of Father Brandon Moravitz, introduced a program we call “Saints in the Making.” This program is intended to help students develop good habits. These good habits have the potential of leading to virtue, and through virtue, to holiness. Every month, each teacher, after careful observation and consideration, selects a student from their classroom whose behavior, school performance, moral, and spiritual development all indicate that they are endeavoring to become a “Saint in the Making.” Students are aware of — and each classroom posts — the following list:

Good Habits That Lead to Virtue

• Empathy, compassion, and caring for others

• Helpfulness

• Good manners, being thankful, forgiving, and polite

• Showing kindness and respect at all times, both in words and actions

• Making a conscious effort to develop good habits and overcome bad habits

• Always following the rules for good behavior, even when you think no one is watching

• Being responsible, dependable, and reliable (quality work done on time)

• Always showing a good attitude, even when you may feel disappointed, angry, or frustrated

• Having self-control, the ability to control your words and actions

Any student who has shown growth in these areas and exhibits continued spiritual growth can qualify as that month’s “Saint in the Making.” MCS teachers collaborated, shared ideas, and created this list which, not surprisingly, looks very much like a list of the “Fruits of the Holy Spirit” described in Galatians 5:22-23 — love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

Students, who are selected for the month are formally recognized during the weekly children’s Mass, have their picture taken for the school’s newsletter (the Marquette Messenger), and enjoy a special luncheon with Father Brandon. This program has been very successful in creating an atmosphere where virtue is actively sought after and where the promotion of good habits is “front and center” at all times. Our students desire to attain this recognition.

If we all, students, parents, and teachers, actively work to develop these good habits we can all be “Saints in the Making” at home, at school, and at our places of work, fulfilling what our Holy Father Pope Francis has said: “To be a saint is not a privilege of a few. All of us in baptism have the inheritance of being able to become saints. Sanctity is a vocation for everyone.”

Jean Virant is principal of Marquette Catholic School in Virginia.