The task of the Catholic school is to teach its students to behold reality, to make sense of what they encounter around and within them. Beyond simply presenting the breadth and depth of human knowledge to its students, it must preach the Gospel, integrating that human knowledge into an authentically Christian worldview and forming its students to be disciples of Jesus. The result ought to be “a synthesis of culture and faith, and a synthesis of faith and life” (The Catholic School, §37).
The greatest joy of my ministry as a middle-school religion teacher is seeing the faces of my students. Sixty-eight of them pass through my classroom each school day, every one of them a reminder that my work is primarily for another. Despite the multitudinous challenges they present, my students have taught me the truth about service. The joy which comes from working first and foremost for the good of someone other than myself has astounded me, concretizing for me the truth that ministry is life-giving because it is, and only insofar as we receive it as, a face-to-face encounter with Christ.