Close to 600 educators from Catholic schools in the Diocese of Brooklyn gathered for a day of inspiration, faith formation, and professional development at the second annual Celebration of Catholic Education Nov. 10 at Grand Prospect Hall, Park Slope.
Father Joseph R. Gibino, a former professor of theology at St. John’s University, and pastor of Holy Trinity parish, Whitestone, advised educators to emulate Jesus and be “Keep-it- simple ministers.”
He recognized that the world is noisy and complicated due in part to advances in technology.
“If our world is noisy, we can’t listen for the voice of God,” he said. “How can we help simplify our students’ lives? How do we take the confusion away from our students if we’re confused? How do we quiet their hearts when our world is noisy? How do we change the third millennium in the name of Jesus Christ to do what the apostles did?”
Father Gibino suggested that hearts and minds can be changed through the love and simplicity of God and forgiveness seven times seven times seven. He said “7x7x7: The Sacraments and the Mercy of God” is the topic of his parish’s faith formation series this year.
“If Jesus is going to forgive us, then we have to be that merciful,” he said. “We have to be that loving, that willing to let go. We have to grow in that every day.”
He said Christians must grow and change and reflect the love of Jesus Christ.
“No one can give what he or she doesn’t have,” Father Gibino said. “If we do not have faith, if we have not been converted to Jesus Christ, then we can’t pass that on. We can’t transmit the love and mercy of God if we haven’t experienced it, if we don’t have it. Have we communicated and committed to ourselves that conversion to the Lord? If yes, we are the community of Jesus Christ. We are the community of faith.”
In The Hundred Acre Wood
Dr. Thomas Chadzutko, diocesan superintendent of schools, inspired the teachers using the story of Winnie-the-Pooh and the other characters created by author A.A. Milne, who represent the many diverse personalities that educators teach.
Dr. Chadzutko told the educators that they are the Christopher Robins.
“Think about those students who are in your classroom today and how you make a difference in their lives,” he said. “The students may come to you not having breakfast or going home to an empty house. Students you become a mother or a father to because they have no one else to speak to. The Tigger who can’t sit in his seat but something you do as Catholic school elementary teacher allows that child to get through the day and channel his or her energies.”
Catholic school educators, he said, have an awesome responsibility and make a difference in the lives of their students every day.
“As we gather today,” Dr. Chadzutko continued, “we gather as Catholic educators within the Diocese of Brooklyn with a strong commitment to the mission and ministry that each of you have taken as part of your life, as part of your vocation.”
Maria Viesta, assistant to the superintendent and coordinator of the event, said, “The Celebration of Catholic Education is important because it offers our teachers and principals a day of professional development, a day to share with their colleagues and co-workers new ideas that will make their classrooms run more effectively and give students a better educational experience.”
Educators also attended workshops on the following topics: Defining the Role of Social Studies and Science Teachers in Mastering the Common Core Standards for English Language Arts; What the Children of Abraham (Jewish, Christian, and Muslim) Need to Know about Each Other; Child Lures Prevention Program; and Generational Shift-New York State Common Core Standards.
Twenty-six exhibitors also participated in a trade show during the day.