Guest Blogger: Barb Gilman on Church Documents

Barb Gilman, the award-winning 3rd grade teacher at St. Margaret Mary School in Omaha, Nebraska, is the guess blogger as part of the Church Documents series.  She reflects on the podcast conversation with Fr. John Belmonte, SJ, the superintendent of the Diocese of Joliet, who discusses the Church document The Catholic School on the Threshold of the Third Millennium (Vatican, 1997) as part of the Catholic School Matters podcast series.

Seventeen years ago, a short and easily understandable document was released by the Congregation for Catholic Education from the Vatican. Dr. Tim Uhl has developed a new podcast series taking a look at church documents. The podcast I’m reflecting on featured Fr. John Belmonte S.J., PhD. If you were ever afraid to tackle a church document, you have no reason to fear.   Dr. Uhl and Fr. Belmonte jump right in with a tone of 2 guys hanging out at a microbrewery to discuss this document. Three ideas have resonated with me.

Pulling up the document from the Vatican’s own website is intimidating. The background is a beige color which resembles parchment. Just seeing that can turn a person off. But Dr. Uhl, with his calm demeanor, gets down to business with pulling out some words which should be defined before the discussion can even begin. Fr. Belmonte defines the words to give us all a base understanding to begin. This idea of accessibility, with taking this document to an easily approachable level, is noticed here.

The next idea that spoke to me is the discussion of the history of our Catholic schools. Dr Uhl and Fr. Belmonte talk about the many Religious Orders who reached out to teach the children of material poverty in years gone by. The discussion then turned to the children of today who may be living in a spiritual poverty or a new poverty of being slaves to the idols of modern society. I never thought of this! In many cases we are teaching students of poverty, but just a new type of poverty.

Finally, the idea of mission in a Catholic school completes my reflection. What is the mission of your Catholic school? If you need a reminder on why you teach in a Catholic school, this 30 minute podcast will provide you with a solid reflection. Then moving on to reading the document will provide you with a boost to your vocation as a Catholic School teacher.