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Catholic Schools: Centered in the Person of Jesus Christ

To Teach as Jesus Did:

Catholic Education in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee

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Catholic Schools:   Centered in the Person of Jesus Christ

In recent years I’ve written reflections on seven of the Defining Characteristics of Catholic Schools,, in an effort to emphasize their relevance for the Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee.  In this final reflection, I challenge you to focus on the eighth and most defining characteristic of all:  Catholic schools as Centered in the Person of Jesus Christ.


The primary goal of every Catholic school is to educate the whole person by effectively integrating faith, culture, and life.  Central to this focus is the formation of students—and all members of the Catholic school community--as authentic disciples of Jesus Christ.  No other purpose, goal, standard, or outcome can supersede or detract from this essential mission.  Rooted in the conviction that Jesus Christ provides “the most comprehensive and compelling example of the realization of full human potential,” our students will be taught, in every aspect of school programming and culture, to model their lives on him (The Catholic School, 34, 35.) 


Specifically, students will be both formed and informed in the integration of faith, culture, and life by becoming effective communicators, compassionate problem-solvers, responsible citizens, moral decision-makers, and disciples of Jesus Christ recognized by their ability to sacrifice, forgive, and serve.  They will learn to not simply accept culture as it is, or reject it out of hand, but rather to transform it with their faith-filled attitudes and actions.


All members of our school communities, therefore, will continue to be sustained and supported in this mission by regularly reflecting on the Gospel, by learning and appreciating Church teachings, and by actively participating in the sacraments and other opportunities for prayer (Catholic Social Responsibility Guidebook for Catholic Schools in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee.)


Finally, in light of our unified commitment to ensure that our Catholic schools are centered in the person of Jesus Christ, I call on every Catholic school community in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee to reflect regularly on the following:


  • As Catholic school leaders, teachers, and staff members, what evidence exists that we teach even more by our actions than our words?


  • In our school community, what does it mean to be “centered in the person of Jesus Christ?”  What is our process for fostering and evaluating that commitment as individuals and as a community of the whole?


  • What specific policies, decisions, and practices in our school community are direct manifestations of our mission and values?


  • How do we, both individually and communally, “sustain our mission” by daily personal prayer and reflection, remembering that we can only give to others what we first possess and value ourselves?


In closing, please let me reaffirm that you—the leaders, teachers, colleagues, and friends with whom I've worked over these past 12 years--have become, in truth, my own "Litany of Saints."  Your courageous leadership, faithful teaching, and selfless service to form disciples of Jesus Christ are impactful and inspiring in ways you may never know.


Gratefully in Christ,

Kathleen A. Cepelka, Ph.D.
Superintendent of Catholic Schools

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Michael Halstead

Powerful reflection! Thank you.

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