Franciscan Sister of Christian Charity Sister Nancy Kinate introduced the topic of ‘Catholic Education: It’s Not Just a School Thing’ for a recent Education Day emphasis for our religious community. We share her introductory comments here.
This often quoted text is so familiar that we may be less conscious of the context in which Jesus spoke it. The context is the Good Shepherd parable. In the imagery of this lesson Jesus attempts to teach the disciples the close relationship that God the Father has so passionately pursued with human beings from the very beginning walking in the garden with them. The ongoing story of the relationship of God with humanity reveals a God always faithfully present and desiring to connect, to converse and to care for us. Jesus’ Good Shepherd parable reveals yet again how God desires relationship with human beings. “I know mine, and mine know me. They listen to my Voice and follow me.” Unlike the hireling, the Good Shepherd stays with his sheep. It is in this context that Jesus states his mission: “I have come that they may have life and have it to the full.”
St. Irenaeus’ dicturm: The glory of God is a man fully alive.”
Like sheep we have life, but our human lives are created in the image of God. We do not merely graze unconsciously and pass through life. We are graced with mind, will and spirit. We are called to fuller participation in life than sheep and all other living creatures. How we consciously and critically choose to live every day reveals the glory of God that is the spirit animating us and sustaining our personal existence. To the extent with God’s grace that we are open to developing and maturing as intellectual, moral and spiritual persons, we are fully alive and give glory to God. This is what education is all about. The good news of this human journey is that we are part of a flock that our Shepherd is Jesus Who is the Way, the Truth and the Life.
These quotes were my starting points to consider today’s topic which surfaced three questions around which we are focusing our remarks and reflections. What then is education if it is not just a school thing? Education is freeing what is most human in us by: exploring truth; experiencing goodness and enjoying beauty. In other words, education enlivens the human spirit through: knowing what is meaningful; understanding what is right, and appreciating what is sacred. Why are education (formation/evangelization) the focus of the ministry of the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity? How are the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity presently involved in witness, fraternity and ministry for a Culture of Dialogue?
Our next series of postings will address these questions. Watch for our Franciscan Sisters responses based on their own experiences.