We are now into the month of October and the season of fall, but I want to take you back to my opening comments as a reminder of why we exist, where do we go and what do we do. We are unique because we are a Catholic school division and it is because of faith and through our faith that we create a horizon of hope. In the words of Pope Francis, “Today amid so much darkness, we need to see the light of hope and be men and women that bring hope to others. To protect creation, to protect every man and woman, to look upon them with tenderness and love, is to open up a horizon of hope.”
During the month of September, I’ve had numerous opportunities to share this question, “What does adulthood look like for the child who does not achieve in school?” It is a powerful question and should cause all of us to reflect. However, I would suggest the question is insufficient and incomplete. The addition needs to be about growing up into adulthood without faith, without some level of spirituality. In a recent article in Maclean’s magazine, Lisa Miller, director of clinical psychology at Columbia University’s Teachers College concluded the following:
Spiritually connected teens are, remarkably, 60 per cent less likely to suffer from depression than adolescents who are not spiritually oriented. They’re 40 per cent less likely to abuse alcohol or other substances, and 80 per cent less likely to engage in unprotected sex. Spiritually oriented children, raised to not shy from hard questions or difficult situations, Miller points out, also tend to excel academically.
We have the ability to raise spiritually connected students in our schools, creating a horizon of hope for each and every one of them. As a mentioned in my opening comments, “Our jobs may be to educate, but it is our calling, our vocation for everyone here, no matter your role in the division, to form. To form our students to be spiritually healthy, faith filled and hopeful!”
So remember, it is not only what adulthood looks like for the child who does not achieve but also for the child who is not spiritually connected. It is a dual mandate that we must always take seriously in our role as Catholic educators.
Peace and blessings as you continue your role in our system!
Chris Smeaton is the Superintendent for Holy Spirit Catholic Schools located in southwest Alberta.
Article originally posted on October 4, 2015 on the Superintendent's Blog - Holy Spirit Catholic Schools