By Jesse Murray
It is a Sunday night, and the sky is dark with a sliver of a moon to give presence to the impressive view of Lake Superior in the background. The Cathedral lights are glowing on the hill with doors open to all and the Blessed Sacrament exposed for adoration. Across the street, purple and white lights flash to the praise and worship of a very loud band and hundreds of people spread out on the soccer field, playground equipment, and sledding hill.
The fall evening is filled with a Spirit that is certainly not quiet. I could not help but be inspired by the noise our Catholic community was making on a Sunday night!
After a moment of internal celebration of our outward sharing of faith, I continued to reflect on how often we, as Catholics, actively and “loudly” evangelize the world.
The word “evangelize” sometimes creates a slight panic for many Catholics. In my everyday work as principal, I see our kids praying out loud and asking the most intriguing and sometimes challenging questions about God, heaven, saints, angels, sin, and grace. The kids are curious, optimistic, and passionate about Jesus Christ and the ultimate goal of heaven.
So what happens when these hit the more self-conscious teenage years, or how do our kids and their parents step out of our buildings into their non-Catholic network? Will they be quiet or feel uncomfortable with sharing the good word? Again, I ponder: How “loud” are we as Catholics, and how do we actively evangelize the world?
The noise of Stella Maris Academy over the past six months might not have been quite as heart thumping as the Built on A Rock Fest event, yet its purpose and direction are beautifully the same. Through the process of unifying to become Stella Maris Academy, I see our families and students wrestle with how to best fulfill the purpose of being commissioned by the church. I see teachers and parent leaders challenge themselves to lead, love, and serve as Jesus taught (not an easy task — but worth every effort).
In the new middle school, the students and their families are slowly being transformed as they regularly gather for small group discussion about life and their faith, continue to celebrate Mass with the parishioners each week, regularly meet people passionate about their faith, and have increased opportunities to participate in adoration and confession. The praying, discussing, and processing is integrated with the theological and scriptural study in the classroom.
We do this because our mission intentionally places faith formation front and center. Will this be loud enough?
At a beginning of the year retreat for teachers, the gospel and homily focused on the invitation for St. Bartholomew to “come and see” the greatness of the Lord. Philip found Nathanael (the future St. Bartholomew). Philip was not quiet! He reached out, made the right “noise,” and because of this action, the life of the church continued to grow stronger.
In our schools, we are teaching our children (and each other) that our decisions to be active in our faith will save souls, ours and others’, and our church will continue to grow stronger. We continue to invite you to be part of this great mission in all our schools, through prayer, through presence, through gifts, and through decisions that transform and sanctify your life and the life of others.
Jesse Murray is principal at Stella Maris Academy, St. John’s Campus, Duluth.