Tag: catholic (page 1 of 6)

10 Ways to Enhance a School Leader’s Spiritual Life

Here are ten ways to enhance a school leader’s spiritual life by using beauty while having a conversation with God.

 

  1. Find a beautiful church to sit in. If magnificent cathedrals feel overwhelming or there are none nearby, find one with simple beauty—a statue, painting, stained glass windows, stations of the cross, crucifix, or beautiful tabernacle that you can soak in while in the presence of God.
  1. Use nature. Research shows that nature has a calming effect on us. Find a place to experience that—a forest, a mountain view, a creek, a garden…even a snow hill sparkling in the sunlight. Thank God for his care that he even provides for our senses.
  1. Art. Go to a museum, watch a video about art, look up beautiful art in the library on the Internet, sit before a picture in your home that you enjoy. Consider the talent God gives to people so to give glory to him and enjoyment to us.
  1. Music. There is a reason we say to “lift your voices.” Beautiful music seems to rise to heaven as it also lifts our spirits. Sacred music, glory and praise, choir, or beautiful symphonies, can lift our spirits to the harmony of our soul in union with God.
  1. Books. Look back over favorite book that have lifted your spirit. The Bible is a good start. Ask friend what their favorite book are. Order books you have always wanted to read.
  1. Find a beautiful prayer book. The prayers and litanies—old, new, and from the Mass—offer spiritual beauty in a book that lifts the senses just holding and looking at.
  1. Plan a pilgrimage to a holy site or take a simple car trip. Traveling to beautiful and holy places feeds the spirit and a sense of adventure at the same time. Since there are such places throughout the country, there may be something very near to you.
  1. Watch an inspirational movie. There are endless stories, documentaries, and lives of the saints on video or online.
  1. Get a beautiful rosary. Of course, it is not necessary because prayer is communication with God from the heart. Sometimes, I use a simple rosary finger ring, but a beautiful rosary adds an element of enjoyment by engaging my senses.
  1. Focus on your faculty/staff directory and pray for each staff member and their family – one at a time.

Looking Back at Catholic Schools Week

When the 17th-century poet John Donne wrote, “No man is an island, entire of itself….,” he expressed profoundly the intrinsic need of all people to feel that they belong to something larger than themselves. Students who attend Catholic schools have this unifying sense of belonging with their common Catholic faith. In celebration of this religious unity and faith-based education, Catholic schools across the country designate one week as Catholic Schools Week, a tradition begun in 1974.

Catholic Schools Week is a commemorative and charitable time for students as they renew their faith by engaging in activities in which they share with others their love of God and their Catholic beliefs. This week is also a unifying week as students come to understand that they are part of the Catholic community as well as the community of man. During this time, teachers strive to engage students in prayer and activities that remind the pupils that they are receiving a thorough education, for it is one of the mind, body and soul.

Many of the Catholic schools involve their students in acts of charity as students spend their time in giving back to their communities. For instance, students may participate in a service program in the parish hall or cafeteria where they make sandwiches for the homeless. Or, they can put together packages for those in military service away from home. They may also compose letters to the sick or aged. Mentorship is another charitable program in which older students share the Gospel with younger ones. As mentors, the older students engage the younger students in interesting activities involving prayer. These mentors can also invite candidates for their first Communion to a “prayer-a-thon” in which the younger students are taught traditional prayers in preparation for receiving Holy Communion.

Lynn Schultz, principal at St. Bernadette’s Catholic school, said faith is “permeated throughout the entire school culture.” She added,“It’s important for our students to celebrate the value of education, not just the really high focus on learning and personal growth, but the focus on being able to grow in their faith.” Catholic Schools Week underscores this spiritual focus. Concurring with what Principal Schultz observes, Trish Wallinger, a principal at a school named St. Mary’s, notes that Catholic schools nurture all parts of a child: the mind, the body, and the soul. “Sending your child to a school where a rigorous program is paired with being lovingly taught about being a disciple of Christ is a wonderful gift to give your child,” observes Principal Wallinger.

Distinguished Teachers Invited to Apply for Curran Fellowship

Originally published by Dan Pietrafesa on  CNY.org

Vera Parnese is humbled and appreciative to be one of more than 40 distinguished honorees recognized at an Evening of Teacher Recognition and Call to Discernment hosted by the archdiocese’s Superintendent of Schools office at the New York Catholic Center in Manhattan Jan. 24.

The honorees received an invitation to apply for a Curran Fellowship in the Curran Catholic School Leadership Academy, which offers each fellow the opportunity to return to college to study to become a school principal.

“I’ve never considered that type of vocation. For someone to have faith in me that I can fulfill that role and to consider it spiritually is unbelievable to me,” said Ms. Parnese, a teacher at St. Charles School on Staten Island for 17 years who was nominated by her principal, John Kiernan.

“I’ve always been fascinated with learning,” she told CNY. “It’s an ongoing process, and what’s interesting is you’re continually evolving. Growth never stops. It’s a continuous process.”

Teachers and principals mingled for about 30 minutes before going into a conference room to watch an archdiocesan video about serving as a Catholic school principal. They were recognized by Dr. Timothy McNiff, superintendent of schools in the archdiocese, and Steven Virgadamo, an associate superintendent who oversees the leadership academy.

“The best way to find a new principal is right in our own backyard with our good teachers,” Dr. McNiff said. “We want to plant a seed tonight to thank them for what they’re doing, but there are other opportunities and challenges. We’d like them to think about that. This is so important we ask their spouse to come because this is a family decision that we’re asking them to do.”

Virgadamo said the leadership academy and the teacher recognition evening continue to flourish.

“This is our fourth year of doing this. So what we’re starting to see is there are individuals who have been nominated and have gone through the program that are now willing to nominate others,” Virgadamo said.

“Even individuals who don’t go to leadership, this is an opportunity to recognize the teachers in our schools who not only make a contribution every single day to see that young people encounter the risen Christ. They are going above and beyond their classroom duties to make sure the ministry of Catholic education is being fulfilled, not just for their students but their families.”

GinaMarie Fonte, principal of Resurrection School in Rye, was one of the first to go through the leadership program and is now nominating her teachers.

“It’s a wonderful job, and I think that if you have it in your heart to do this job, it’s definitely a calling. If you work hard, you will have a wonderful experience and a wonderful school.”

Jon Frega is a first-year principal of St. Elizabeth School in Manhattan and will begin taking classes as a member of the leadership academy in the fall. He nominated a teacher for the next leadership academy class.

“It’s an amazing opportunity. I’m really excited to go back to school,” he said.

Gillian Burgain and David Ellis have taught a combined 40 years at St. Mark the Evangelist School in Manhattan. Both were honored and invited to apply for a fellowship.

“We love (what we do) and this is what God put us on earth to do,” Ellis said.

Michelle Palmieri has taught at Our Lady Star of the Sea School on Staten Island for 18 years and was nominated by her principal, Jeannine Roland.

“It’s such an honor to be here,” said Ms. Palmieri, the mother of three children. “I’m going to look into the academy, talk about it with my husband and think about our future.

“I love what I do. I go to work happy every morning.”

Leadership Coaching, Catholic Schools and 4 Strategies To Make It More Impactful

Currently, Catholic Schools are operating in an era where the level of competition is very high. For a private school to remain competitive, it has to implement important strategies that will help overcome competition, or to at least remain competitive enough. One of these strategies is leadership coaching, where the leader impacts his or her workers by teaching them the instructional and classroom management skills, student/parent relationship skills and the knowledge to perform their jobs well.

While many have questioned the effectiveness of leadership coaching I remain steadfast that the single factor between a school which is thriving and one which is struggling is leadership. It is for that reason that I remain committed to providing Catholic school leaders, Principals, Presidents  and Superintendents with timely and consistent leadership coaching and mentoring. Here are some strategies that can be used to make leadership coaching effective.

  1. Being Specific

One of the most important aspects of leadership coaching is specificity. As a leader, you must ensure that whatever is being told to all employees (teachers and staff) working within the school is precise and exact. A leader should not leave his or her employees in the dark or worse, confused as to what is being asked of them. Demonstrating and modeling behaviors should also be incorporated so that employees may get a visual representation of the task, making it much clearer.

  1. Provide Positive Feedback

A common mistake among a large number of leaders is concentrating on and criticizing individual flaws and weaknesses. Some have been misunderstanding elements of personal styles and confusing them for a lack of personal motivation. To enhance the effectiveness of leadership coaching, one should provide positive feedback on individual strengths. Leaders should also be cognizant of how they are describing what they want an individual to achieve, such as the desired outcomes and deliverables.

  1. Being Concise

Using too many words to describe something that could have been described with just a few can lead to ineffective coaching as well. While in a leadership position, one should make it a point to be brief and concise when providing instructions to followers. A leader should focus on being direct while at the same time providing clear, easy-to-understand instructions. Doing so will promote memorability and understanding of what it is these employees must do, lessening the chances of frequent mistakes.

  1. Establishing Trust and Goodwill

For leaders to effectively promote and enhance their coaching abilities, establishing goodwill and trust is of paramount importance. Leaders must be humble and should not assume superiority or come off as self-entitled. They should focus on being sources of assistance and leading by example. They should focus on their duties while at the same time demonstrating high levels of integrity. Other employees are likely to trust and believe in their leader if he or she demonstrates the ability to successfully manage large teams, absorb chaos and give back calm while guiding staff throughout all obstacles presented.

Not Letting Kids “Go Dark” from Faith During Summer

Originally published on NCEATalk.org

The following article is a re-posting of John Jimenez’s blog, NOT LETTING KIDS “GO DARK” FROM FAITH DURING THE SUMMER.

All around the country, the end of the school year is here. And to most children, that means only one thing: summer vacation. The normal routine is broken up for two and a half glorious months of sleeping in, summer camps, family trips, play dates with friends, or whatever unique joys summer vacation brings to a child’s life.

This regular break from regularity is a wonderful thing, but often children can see it as a break from everything they normally do, including the practice and growth of their Catholic Faith. Many parish ministries and religious education programs “go dark” for the summer, and of course, if a child is in Catholic school, that regular connection with the Faith is dormant for the summer months.

As parents, though, we don’t want our children to take a break from their Faith during the summer. We don’t want them to take nearly 25% of every year to stop praying, learning, or growing closer to God. But we may find ourselves more on our own, without as much help from the school or parish during the summer. Thankfully, Catholic Brain does not go dark for the summer; the following are some ideas of how it can help.

Building A Summer Faith Routine

The break in routine during the summer gives the opportunity for some special religious opportunities. We can take our children to visit local shrines, participate more in service projects, or even make a pilgrimage. But in order to help our children continue to make the Faith an integral part of their daily lives, many people find making some summer routine helpful.

One simple thing to do is make use of the daily Scripture presentations from Catholic Brain. Each morning children can start their day by reading a child-friendly translation of the day’s readings at Mass, followed by a simple five-question quiz. This allows them to join the mind of the Church in pondering God’s Word throughout the summer.

The saints are our constant companions throughout our journey in life. Each day children can learn about the Saint of the Day. This way, throughout the summer, they will be able to make many new heavenly friends. In the morning, at meals, and before bed, children can be encouraged to ask that day’s saint to pray for them. By incorporating the daily Scripture readings and saints, the Catholic Faith can continue to be part of the rhythm of our children’s daily lives.

“Faithful” Screen Time

One of the things that many children spend more time doing in the summer is watching television. Catholic Brain has many wonderful videos for children, about the life of Jesus or other Bible stories, about the saints or virtues. If children will have more screen time this summer, perhaps it can begin with one of the videos found on the site. Have them share with you what they learn each day.

Of course, there are all sorts of things that can be found on Catholic Brain, from games and other activities, to printables and music. The extra time this summer gives children an opportunity to search the site on their own and find things that interest them.

Summer Catechism Study Program

One of the best opportunities Catholic Brain is offering this summer is its eight-week Summer Catechism Study Program, beginning June 18, and running through August 10. This child-friendly approach to the truths of our Faith is built to become part of daily life.

The 38 videos correspond to the 38 lessons in the Baltimore Catechism, and are accompanied by activities, games and quizzes. Children can track their progress by earning badges throughout the program and each child will earn a certificate of completion when they finish. They will also take a final quiz, and those with the highest scores can win Catholic Brain store gift cards, trophies, and free Biblezon tablets. Best of all, the program allows kids to end the summer with a deeper understanding of the Faith than they began it with. Just go to the Catholic Brain site, and click on the pink “Summer Catechism Study Program” tab to sign up!

Catholic Books to Add to Your Reading List

Expanding your spirituality and knowledge of the Catholic faith is something that every individual can do regardless their level of expertise. A great way to just that is by reading any number of books focusing on Catholicism and its many ideas and foundations. Below are a few Catholic books to add to your reading for those who would like better their knowledge on the religion.

Catholic Treasury of Prayers

A collection of prayers devoted to Mass, the PSalms, and Our Blessed Mother St. Joseph, Catholic Treasury of Prayers is a very helpful volume for those who may be unfamiliar with the many prayers embodied in this religion. This book can accompany people on their journey to becoming a more faithful individual, and can serve as a resource for all.

No Greater Love

No Greater Love captures the endless wisdom of Mother Teresa, which includes all of her teachings in an autobiographical form. It sends a powerful message to its readers on the importance of living with humility and helping those in need. It also features Mother Teresa’s thoughts on the concepts of love, generosity, forgiveness, and prayer. This is a great piece of written work that celebrates the life of one of the most revered figures in human history.

The Seven Storey Mountain

Written by Thomas Merton, The Seven Storey Mountain is often regarded as one of the most influential religious works of the 20th century. It tells the story of Merton and his search for peace and faith, and gives its readers incredible wisdom and insight regarding suffering, selfishness, and the ultimate goal of spiritual perfection. Today, it is published in over 20 languages and sold around the world.

Beautiful Mercy

This work was written by Pope Francis, Matthew Kelly, Cardinal Donald Wuerl, and several other Catholic authors. Beautiful Mercy is a collection of essays that are essentially a call to action for readers to live out the Corporal and Spiritual Acts of Mercy during the Church’s Year of Mercy. Pope Francis specifically has asked that people focus their attention on this year’s mercy in an attempt to inspire more and celebrate this tradition in meaningful ways.

The Story of a Soul

Saint Therese of Lisieux was a nun in the 19th century who, sadly, died at the age of 24 from tuberculosis. The Story of a Soul is an autobiographical piece of hers that includes her childhood memories growing up Northwestern France. What started as a simple biography became a modern spiritual classic. Decades later, more manuscripts of the Saint’s were discovered, which included more in-depth takes on her spirituality, love, and devotion to God. Saint Therese is a perfect example of one that has devoted her life to holiness, simplicity, and faith.

Funding Within the Catholic School System

Currently, Catholic schools are facing a financial crisis, brought about by an unmet need for funding. Government funding and donations from philanthropists do help, but it’s not nearly enough to offset the costs associated with educating each school’s children. This leaves the bulk of funding to come from the only other available source: tuition. While that seems like the obvious solution, the ways in which tuition is applied may be doing more harm than good.

The Dilemma with the Current Tuition Model

Catholic schools are caught in a tough spot right now, due to their dependence upon tuition to fund the system. Currently, tuition is based on the number of children attending the school. In the per student model, a family with five students will be paying five times more than a family with just one child. The problem with this is that the family with five children is already paying a higher percentage of their earnings to provide those children with other necessities, such as food, clothing, and healthcare. Unless they’re wealthy, that family will see the burden of tuition as an added hardship.

The problem doesn’t just affect that one family. Looking for ways to cut corners, even a devout Catholic family may find themselves forced to send their children to public schools. The burden of tuition may be lifted, but the children aren’t getting the education that the family wants for them. As more families make this same choice, enrollment in Catholic schools will suffer. Ultimately, Catholic schools will become more akin to elite private schools, where only single-child families will enroll.

A New Tuition Model

While the situation seems dire, there is a solution that has been proposed and it’s one that embraces the giving nature of the Catholic faith. The idea is to switch from a per student tuition model to a per family model, which would have every family paying the same for tuition. It would lighten the burden on families with multiple children attending the school, allowing them.to pay one smaller tuition.

In general, families would be paying just a few hundred per year as opposed to the thousands of dollars they would otherwise have to pay. This also means that single-child households may be paying a little more. However, an increase of a couple hundred is still far more easily managed than tuition costs of $5,000 or more per year.

It seems obvious that the current method for funding Catholic schools isn’t sustainable as a long-term solution. By amending the way tuition is applied to each family, more children will be able to remain in their school of choice. That’s better for the children, for their families, and for the Catholic schools seeking to provide a better educational experience.

 

Source: https://catholicexchange.com/blueprint-for-change-funding-catholic-schools

The Catholic Church in the US

Some say the Catholic Church is in decline and yet others say it is a Church in hospice. It is true the U.S. Church has experienced about a 3% decline in the last ten years confirmed by two massive PEW studies … and a decline in religious vocations, but don’t be too quick to rush to judgement without carefully considering the data. Most of the Church closures are old inner-city parishes where the demographics are changing. Many of these inner city parishes were established in close proximity in the late 1800’s as each was founded to minister to a particular immigrant population – Irish – Italian – Polish etc. Today, 49% of Catholic adults have a graduate college degree, make an above average income and very few experience protracted periods of unemployment. And, most do not live in the inner cities.

Catholics in the suburban parishes are doing just fine … and there has been no aggregate decline in the number of baptized Catholics who routinely attend Mass in the last 50 years. All these demographics correlate neatly with Catholic fertility rates … the aggregate baptized Catholic population fluctuates over decades between 23% to 27% of the U.S. population.

Catholic schools continue to maintain a presence in the inner cities to serve the urban poor and often the new immigrant population because they are Catholic and education is a path to breaking a cycle of poverty.

Spring and Getting Your Students Outside

If you are a teacher feeling the strain of third quarter and searching for the elusive fourth quarter of your school year to arrive, there is hope. Although you have been trapped inside with your students, the spring weather gives you opportunity to get your students outside, either during class projects or for homework. Here are ten outdoor assignments, categorized by subject matter, that both teachers and students can enjoy:

 

English Language Arts

 

  1. Write haiku poems which are usually about elements of nature. A haiku is a succinct style of poetry that should have only three lines and include exactly five, seven and then five syllables per line.
  2. Try poetry written in the imagist style to capture specific, simple pieces of nature. This assignment works especially well when studying American Literature because of the origins and history of imagism.
  3. Practice using descriptive language and literary devices to describe the outdoor setting. Teachers could require students to include their observations from all five senses and to use a set number of similes, metaphors, onomatopoeias, alliteration and symbolism.

 

Science

 

  1. Search for unique rocks, and then categorize them as igneous, sedimentary or metamorphic. Teachers could encourage a chart or table be designed and presented.
  2. Teach students how to safely catch and preserve or to catch and release insects; then practice classifying each insect based on its taxonomy.
  3. Ask for observations in a journal or report that describe the habitat of squirrels, birds or other animals in the area. This assignment could also include students classifying the animals or studying the entire ecosystem.

 

Math

 

  1. For preschool classes, help students collect a designated number of rocks and leaves with which to practice counting.
  2. For elementary classes, ask students to gather a certain number of items, then practice adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing the assortments during whole-group instruction. You could also demonstrate using fractions with their outdoor collections.

 

Social Studies

 

  1. Assign students a diorama showing their grasp of a historical event, and have them make a list of supplies they need; then go outside to gather a portion of their supplies.
  2. Have older students observe others at a park and report back on social structure, group behavior, gender roles and social norms. Adapt this exercise as needed for various sociology and psychology topics.

 

Indeed, springtime provides a unique season for students to explore and learn hands-on. Perhaps you are a teacher trying to engage students who learn best in a kinesthetic or tactile way; here’s your chance to add to your typical lessons and interest students even more. Encourage your students’ development by trying these creative and fun academic exercises.

 

Raising Catholic Kids

In a world filled with chaos, it’s important to make certain that your children are raised with Catholic beliefs. The traditional church has been around for many years, and Catholicism continues to be a prominent religion in the country and the world. Although it isn’t easy to live a devoutly Catholic life, it is important to give your children the ability to make proper decisions based upon the teaching of Jesus Christ.

One of the hardest concepts for children to understand is that their religion somewhat defines who they are. There are churches popping up all over the place that are typically more technologically advanced and upbeat, so these churches definitely attract new people. Some of the teachings at these churches may be different than the Catholic faith, so you must raise your children with the proper respect and knowledge for other people and religions.

When parenting your child in the faith, you need to become involved in the church yourself. Take the time to volunteer to show your child how important it is to help the church to succeed. As a giver of your time and talents, your child will better understand that the church is more than a building, it is a community.

You should also take the time to teach your child about the sacraments, what they mean, and when he or she will receive each one. This gives your child something to work for and look forward to. This religion is rooted in tradition, and that can make it difficult for children to truly enjoy mass and religious education classes, but preparing for sacraments and acknowledgement definitely help children stay the course.

Parenting your children in the ways of the faith helps them to understand morality. Many parishioners cannot recite every book of the bible, but they usually understand the meaning of being a Christian better than anyone. The children take the time to study the analogies that Jesus made for God throughout his life. Every parable tells a story. If you really want your child to appreciate the faith, you should dissect these stories down to the most basic principles.

Make certain that your child participates fully with Sunday school classes and takes the time to do something special for others. Helping at a food pantry, getting church prepared, or even altar serving are great ways for kids to learn more about the work they’re doing for God.

Parenting is a difficult job, but you can survive it all with the help of the church. It can be difficult for your children to abide by the rules of the church, but hold them accountable because they will be better adults than you ever imagined. Peer pressure can make things difficult, but you have your parish family there for you when you need them.

Read more about your religion, get involved with your children at church, and donate weekly to teach your kids the value of the sacrifice that Jesus made for us.