Catholic Identity is strengthened by active participation in all staff faculty retreats, grades two through eight student retreats, faculty and student prayer services, community prayer, staff Eucharistic Ministers, and schoolwide Christian service projects. In October of 2016, the school began the Home Visitation program of “Pilgrim Mary” where parents have the opportunity to have a large statue of Our Blessed Mother Mary (Our Lady of Grace) travel to their home and live with them for a week. This gives them a personal and intimate experience where they may have opportunities for prayer in their home environment. Parents sign up on a schedule when they would like to have Mary in their home, and each week in the school newsletter, the family sends a picture of Mary in their home for the newsletter section “Where is Mother Mary?” As part of a service commitment, a parent handler is assigned to see that the statue of Mary is well-cared for and arrives at the next home according to the schedule. She travels with a basket of faith materials, including rosaries, how to pray the rosary booklets, reflection books, prayer cards and a journal.
One of the organizational focuses throughout the year, is to answer a continuing question, “How does someone visiting our campus know that the Academy is a Catholic school other than the crucifix on the wall?” Each classroom teacher is encouraged to create a living Catholic environment that answers this question. Teachers display their year-long chosen classroom saint, a crucifix, a designated prayer corner, Student Learning Expectations, Dominican symbols, student work, projects and visuals that support Catholic Identity. The entire school community begins and ends each day in prayer. As part of our morning routine and led by the student council, morning prayers, prayer intentions, the Gospel and reflection and the Dominican charisms are recited as a constant reminder of our faith. The morning routine also includes the Salute to the Flag. Daily announcements include birthdays, sports news, spirit days, guest speakers and/or video presentations, weekly celebrations and upcoming events. Seasonal Christian service projects focusing on local, national, and worldwide needs are also part of the morning routine.
This year, reconsideration of the grade-level service projects included input from the Director of Mission Integration and On-Going Formation in order to choose projects that were appropriate to the grade level of the students. This was discussed with teachers, the Director, the Religion Coordinator and administration. In this way, students become active witnesses in reaching out to those in need and living the gospel message of humility and service. Teachers assess this through the student learning expectations which support the achievement of students.
The pastor appoints three priests to work with students and teachers in faith formation. They are assigned to Kindergarten-Grade 2, Grades 3-5 and Grades 6-8. We are blessed to interact with them on a regular basis as they celebrate our weekly student Mass and monthly family Mass, teach in classrooms, offer the Sacrament of Reconciliation, First Eucharist, and make themselves available for anything needed. They are very prominent on the school campus and are the visible presence of vocations at the Academy.
In addition to the parish priests, the Director of Mission Integration and On-Going Formation for the diocese serves as the spiritual director for the staff. She conducts mini-retreats and spiritual talks throughout the year which enhances the spiritual formation of the teachers. She is also available as needed and is a blessing to the Academy.
As a community of faith, Christ Cathedral Academy strives to live the message of the Gospel, while cultivating Catholic values and the spiritual formation of the school families. The philosophy and mission statements reflect a renewed commitment to the development of Catholic Identity by faculty, staff, and parents who contribute to the planning and implementation of student learning objectives and ongoing growth.
As a Catholic school, a main focus is developing the faith life of every student. As teachers in a community of faith, we partner with parents in encouraging the religious and spiritual development of their children. Planning a comprehensive program gives teachers an organizational structure and timeline which provides students with numerous ways to deepen their relationship with Christ and have a strong foundation in their lives. During the faculty meetings in April and May, teachers discuss and evaluate the goals and the timeline for the upcoming year. A comprehensive packet outlining the school year is given to each member of the staff so that they can plan learning activities and faith experiences for the students. See Evidence Good information provides good formation. Along this same line, teachers conduct monthly faculty prayer services where they witness to one another the call to prayer, community and discipleship.
To support the Catholic Identity of staff, teachers attend two school sponsored retreats during the year (Fall and Spring) and participate in monthly prayer services. The yearly schedule includes a non-student contact day to attend Religious Education Congress and many of the teachers attend weekend, evenings and summer classes from the Institute of Pastoral Ministry. For students, every class from grade two to grade eight attend yearly retreats.