Just what is “Catholic Identity”?
Is it something we see with our eyes or do we feel it with our hearts?
Is it something we can touch and hold with our hands or do we experience it resonating and living within our souls?
Is it something we can hear and listen to or does it exist in the silence and beauty that is grace permeating our lives…or is it all of these?
The answer of course is Catholic Identity is everything ... entirely and completely.
Catholic Identity is evidenced as much in well-written curriculum and through quality instruction as it is found present in the signs and symbols of our faith throughout our schools’ classrooms and hallways. It manifests itself as much in the ways we interact as individuals as when we do the same as a collective society witnessing actions that speak to the worth and dignity of all God’s people.
Catholic Identity reveals itself in every thought, word and action that reflects the beauty of Christ’s message in the Gospel. And thus, in the words of Pope John Paul II, “It is of utmost importance, therefore, that the Church’s institutions be genuinely Catholic: Catholic in their self-understanding and Catholic in their identity.”
The five elements that define a school’s Catholic identity are those proposed by the Holy See and clearly articulated in the document composed by Archbishop J. Michael Miller, CSB, and titled The Holy See’s Teachings on Catholic Schools. Identified as the “five essential marks of Catholic schools,” these principle features, considered “benchmarks” for evaluative purposes, assert that an authentically Catholic school must be:
Inspired by a Supernatural Vision,
Founded on Christian Anthropology,
Animated by Communion and Community,
Imbued with a Catholic Worldview throughout its Curriculum, and
Sustained by Gospel Witness
Rochester Catholic Schools understands that the formation of such an identity is an ever-evolving process and that one is never “completed” or “finished.” The journey to fully answer the question:
“Is this a Catholic school according to the mind of the Church?” is never ending…and hence amplifies the beauty of the quest to forever strive for its realization. It is our commitment, however, to aspire to achieve these benchmarks on a continual and consistent basis through the daily activities of a living school community that qualifies us as a school system that is authentically Catholic. Here at Rochester Catholic Schools we seek to serve as integral participants in the fulfillment of the Church’s teaching mission- where worship of our God, service to our neighbors, communion with our brothers and sisters, and witness to the Gospel are the norm. (Renewing Our Commitment to Catholic Elementary and Secondary Schools in the Third Millennium, §2)
Our work is never done …
but the reward is great and the journey is life giving … now and for eternity.
To more fully understand these benchmarks, please click here to access the full text of Archbishop Miller’s guiding work.