Throughout my two decades as an educator in Catholic schools, the question that I have been asked most frequently is, “What is the Catholic school difference?” I must confess that my response to this inquiry has evolved over the years, given my various roles within Catholic education. However, one constant in my answer remains unchanged: Catholic schools offer us the opportunity to be an extension of Christ’s love through our interactions with one another. What makes this response significant is that Catholic schools, individually, each have the power to define and shape how this expression takes form.
Earlier this year I attended a conference dedicated to Catholic school inclusion. The conference workshops were focused on equipping schools with resources to assess their school culture, fostering collaboration among faculty and staff and implementing evidence-based practices. The participants of the conference expressed that although Catholic school leaders and teachers are constantly seeking ways to serve the needs of their growing diverse student populations, they talked about how they often encountered barriers and fell short of their efforts. They cited a lack of school culture and resistance to inclusion as preventing them from establishing a communal philosophy of welcoming all students. Amidst these demanding discussions, however, a spirit of hopefulness and commitment to shouldering the responsibility of discovering solutions prevailed.
I mention this experience because, as the conference drew to a close, I could not resist now asking myself, “What is the Catholic school difference?” Right there, before me, was a tangible manifestation of Christ’s love in our interaction with one another! This idea of placing Christ at the heart of our work enables us to forge communities that exude warmth, openness, inclusivity and a sense of belonging. So, what is the Catholic school difference? The answer is simple: embrace Christ’s love!
NSBECS Domain: Mission and Catholic Identity
Antonio Felix, Ed.D., Assistant Dean Preparation Partnerships, School of Education, Loyola Marymount University, will be a keynote speaker at NCEA Catholic Leadership Summit 2023: Building Connections, Sustaining Commitments, Inspiring Leaders, October 22 – 25. For information on CLS, go to our website.