Teaching middle school religion in Tennessee at the local K–8 Catholic school, my classroom consists of students who are majority Christian, most of whom are Catholic, with a number of students who are Methodist, Baptist, and Episcopalian. Students with different religious backgrounds, even just within the Christian traditions, increase the ability and need for fruitful ecumenical dialogue and living within our classroom.
In the last contribution to this series, I addressed the need for a liturgical interruption relative to Catholic school curricula. These curricula often presume that human beings are made for work and thus contribution to industry. This assumption is at the heart of STEM curricula. A ST(R)E(A)M curriculum simply adds religion and arts to the mix, without awareness that this addition might upset the whole basis of the curriculum to begin with.
Thus far, this series has focused on the educational qualities possessed by liturgical prayer celebrated in the school, the parish, and the family. Liturgy is educational insofar as it forms us to see human life as ordered toward the adoration of God. If we are attentive to liturgy’s pedagogy, then we may learn what it means to be fully human.
Over the last three years, I have been working with the Archdiocese of San Francisco, addressing the quality of Eucharistic celebration in their schools. Almost universally, school leaders, especially at secondary institutions, recognize that all-school Masses are rarely occasions of prayer for faculty or students. Here are three questions for schools in this situation to consider.
A crisis has a strange way of clarifying things. For instance, the COVID-19 pandemic has helped me to recognize the important contributions Catholic schools are uniquely positioned to make. As I’ve worked to support Catholic school leaders in “pivoting” to distance education, I’ve become keenly aware of the many ways Catholic schools help the families they serve.