One of the key worries that many have concerning the next academic year 2020-2021 is whether classes will be conducted on site or online. What is the best solution? This is a question from so many concerning all levels of education. What will school look like in the future? And, in particular, what can and should Catholic schooling look like next year?
As we well know, this is something that is growing and developing and changing by the day. Rest assured that those charged with Catholic education on both the diocesan and parochial level are daily coming up with creative solutions. There can be a general plan, but things change. If anything, we are more aware than ever of the reality that “man proposes, but it is God who disposes.” So, with this understanding, what do Catholic educators, families, and students need to keep in mind? We propose four things, all of which are taken from the transcendental precepts of a 20th Century theologian Bernard Lonergan, SJ (1904-1984):
First, be attentive in experience: What are the facts? Not just what a media outlet states, but what is your personal experience of the situation? Second, be intelligent in understanding: What are the facts? Third, be reasonable in judgment: Do I operate out of a hermeneutic of suspicion? Are my fears or is my confidence unjustified? Fourth, be responsible in deciding: you and only you can decide what is true and just and accurate for your family in terms of school.
If we could add a fifth precept: be Catholic in all senses of the word; view the situation through a Catholic lens. Offer all sufferings and inconveniences through the Passion of Christ; trust in the Church and her teachings; know that as the Mystical Body of Christ, she is sinless, although we who make up the Church are sinful.
The truth is, as much as one can plan for the coming academic year, there are going to undoubtedly be in this new post-COVID world, the need for creative thinking and flexibility without giving up what makes Catholic education so vital — a true devotion to inspire. Let Christ who is master and teacher allow his Bride, the Church, to be who she truly is: Mater et Magister (Mother and Teacher) as Pope Saint John XXIII described her.
Let us call upon the Patron of Catholic Education, Saint Thomas Aquinas, to protect and be our heavenly intercessor this coming academic year:
Saint Thomas Aquinas, you are called by Holy Mother Church, the Angel of the Schools.
Your wisdom, gathered through long meditation from the source of all wisdom, the most holy Trinity, has long been a shining light in the Catholic Church.
Ignorance of the things of God is a darkness now enveloping the minds of many of our countrymen.
In this darkness, we need an angel like you who will protect, foster, and nourish the schools we have, and guide and strengthen us in establishing and building newer and more adequate schools for the instruction of our children in the ways of Christ.
Help and bless the generous sisters, brothers, and priests who labor so unselfishly in the classroom to spread the knowledge of Christ.
Inspire our Catholic men and women to be most generous in the support of the schools we have.
Grant to parents the wise generosity they need to give their child back to God when that child wishes to follow a priestly or religious vocation.
Help us, Saint Thomas, Angel of the Schools, to understand what you taught, and to follow your example.