And Mary said: “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord;
my spirit rejoices in God my savior.” Luke 1: 46-47
I thought it prudent to follow the lead set forth by Fr. Michael, who in his homily at our opening Mass for the school year reminded students and teachers of three simple things to keep in mind: love God, love neighbor, and love self.
Simplicity seems to be something so elusive in our society, and lest we let that enter our school community, I suggest at the start of a new school year, we look at three defining elements of our mission:
1. Parents: Parents are primary educators! This is the perennial teaching of the Catholic Church.
“The right and duty of parents to give education is essential, since it is connected with the transmission of human life; it is original and primary with regard to the educational role of others, on account of the uniqueness of the loving relationship between parents and children; and it is irreplaceable and inalienable, and therefore incapable of being entirely delegated to others or usurped by others.” (Familias Consortio, #36)
The school is an extension of the home, and we are so grateful that parents entrusted us with the gift and responsibility of educating their children. Our mission is to reinforce the first school and domestic church: the family.
2. Partnership: Our mission is predicated on partnership between home and school, and a reciprocity of support is essential in this task. Teachers and administrators lean on parents just as much as parents lean on us!
What does it mean to be a partner? The word derives from partitio in Latin, which is the act of sharing. In Middle English, parcener signifies joint heir. Home and school are therefore sharing the task of living as adopted children of God, co-heirs with Jesus Christ according to St. Paul.
“For those who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you received a spirit of adoption, through which we cry, “Abba, Father!” The Spirit itself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if only we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him.” (Romans 8:17)
3. Purpose: Our mission statement is the same as it was when our school was founded. It is featured prominently on our website, right there on the front page.
Mount Royal Academy’s mission aims to educate the whole person through the spiritual, academic, and physical formation of each student. Our aspirations direct all temporal efforts toward our Father’s eternal kingdom through:
Inspiring our students to grow in their knowledge of and love for God, which will enable them to love and serve those around them.
Implementing a rigorous academic curriculum that teaches the truth which is the foundation of all knowledge.
Fostering the physical development of each student through our athletic programs.
Developing responsible and qualified leaders for all vocations within the Church, their families, and in their communities.
Parents, partnership, and purpose.
I would be remiss if I failed to mention on this her birthday - the prototype parent - Mary, the Mother of God. Mary knows all the pains and joys of parenting. She knew how to let go and let divine providence orchestrate the good for her child, even though sorrow could not be stifled. An act of the will and an act of trust.
We prayed our first whole school rosary yesterday, asking Mary to bend the ear of her Son for the needs of our community. The students entered the gym acting as if it was time for prayer, which I reminded them is no easy feat given the association with gym class and more active events. You could call it a daily miracle: children of all ages numbering more than 200 entering a space silently, readying themselves to speak to God in communion with each other.
The ancient words of St. Andrew of Crete called for such a celebration! The life of a Christian is not meant to be mundane, but lived well - because Mary said yes to God, we can all say our yes to him.
“The present festival, the birth of the Mother of God, is the prelude, while the final act is the fore-ordained union of the Word with flesh. Today the Virgin is born, tended and formed and prepared for her role as Mother of God, who is the universal King of the ages… Let there be one common festival for saints in heaven and men on earth. Let everything, mundane things and those above, join in festive celebration. Today this created world is raised to the dignity of a holy place for him who made all things. The creature is newly prepared to be a divine dwelling place for the Creator.”
Back to the words of Saint John Paul the Great, words which I think set just the right tone for cultivating an educational community both at home and in our school:
“In a society shaken and split by tensions and conflicts caused by the violent clash of various kinds of individualism and selfishness, children must be enriched not only with a sense of true justice, which alone leads to respect for the personal dignity of each individual, but also and more powerfully by a sense of true love, understood as sincere solicitude and disinterested service with regard to others, especially the poorest and those in most need. The family is the first and fundamental school of social living: as a community of love, it finds in self-giving the law that guides it and makes it grow. The self- giving that inspires the love of husband and wife for each other is the model and norm for the self-giving that must be practiced in the relationships between brothers and sisters and the different generations living together in the family. And the communion and sharing that are part of everyday life in the home at times of joy and at times of difficulty are the most concrete and effective pedagogy for the active, responsible and fruitful inclusion of the children in the wider horizon of society.” (Familias Consortio, #37)
- Derek Tremblay, Headmaster