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Catholic Schools Office
The mission of Catholic Schools in New Hampshire is to prepare students through the Sacraments, sacred scripture, Catholic tradition, and high academic standards, and to inspire them to become transformative leaders working toward a more just and peaceful world.
Reflections on Our Mission
by Mr. David Thibault, Superintendent of Catholic Schools
I was praying and thinking about our Catholic schools this morning when the thought struck me that I would rather “fail” in the eyes of the world trying to do God’s will than “succeed” by turning away from our mission, our identity in Christ. I pondered this thought throughout the morning, and arrived in my office to find an article quoting the 20th-century Catholic novelist, Walker Percy, who wrote in his novel The Second Coming, “You can get all A’s and still flunk life.” Same message, different words. Maybe the Holy Spirit was trying to remind me of the undeniable difference between the worldly paradigm of student success, limited to academic knowledge and acquired skills, and the mission of our Catholic schools, which are “inspired by a supernatural vision."
A prevailing teaching tool today has teachers begin with the end in mind. It is a curriculum planning approach that starts with deciding what outcomes you want for your students and then working backward to develop lessons and assessments designed to help them achieve those outcomes. It is a way of planning that begins by asking the questions, “What do I want my students to know and be able to do? What is the end product I desire?” I utilized this approach as a teacher but even more as a Catholic school leader when developing a vision and a plan of action. The key is to begin by asking the right questions. What is God’s will for us? What do we want our graduates to know and be able to do as they head off to college and/or into the world? How can we foster discernment of students’ vocations? What do we want our schools to look like three, five, and ten years from now?
The answers to these questions for our Catholic schools go beyond the world’s idea of educational success, the purpose of which, in the world’s view, is only to help students acquire the knowledge and skills they need to attend university or to immediately join the workforce and earn a higher standard of living. These things in themselves are not bad but they are not the ultimate purpose of the education our students receive. We desire graduates who become “good citizens of this world, loving God and neighbor and enriching society with the leaven of the Gospel, and who will also be citizens of the world to come, thus fulfilling their destiny to become saints.” (Holy See’s Teaching on Catholic Schools, Miller)
The end we have in mind for all the students in our Catholic schools is one where our graduates understand the joy of doing God’s will, see the inherent dignity of every person they encounter, and realize their destiny in heaven. We envision schools where students are growing in their faith, seeing the beauty in virtue, sharing the Good News with others through their good example and good works in their communities, growing in love for their country, building strong moral character, and developing a sense of wonder and a love of learning. Inspired by this supernatural vision, the students in our beautiful Catholic schools will strive not only to “get all A’s” but more importantly be open to hearing God’s call in their lives.
Catholic Schools Office
Diocese of Manchester
153 Ash Street
PO Box 310
Manchester, NH 03105-0310
(603) 669-0377 (fax)