Dr. Saundra Kennedy
WINNIPEG – If a teacher in a Catholic school feels that their relationship with God is not that important, their calling is not in a Catholic school, says an American catechist and educator.
"Catholic school educators have been given a key to a very special place called Church," said Dr. Saundra Kennedy as she spoke to 400 Catholic educators in Winnipeg Feb. 15.
"It was given to you at your Baptism. It has brought us to where we are today," Kennedy said.
Catholic educators carry on the legacy of "St. Peter, St. Paul, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, Mary and Mary Magdalene, some of the greatest teachers ever and the greatest teacher of all, Jesus, to bring God's message to the world. What an incredible task, and it's yours and it's mine!"
Kennedy was speaking at Catholic Schools Day which brought together teachers and support staff from the two local archdioceses of Winnipeg and St. Boniface as well as the Ukrainian Archeparchy.
Kennedy holds a doctorate in education and religion from Columbia University and Union Theological Seminary in New York City. She serves as a consultant for the production of catechetical materials in the U.S. and is a sought after presenter for gatherings of Catholic educators.
Kennedy told her audience they are all catechists "because we're all echoing Jesus" whether it be as a principal, librarian or coach. "We don't need to say words to echo the word of God because it's also in the way we live our lives," she said.
"We want our children to know who God is in their lives. We can get our kids to repeat but it doesn't mean they know it. We want them to know what discipleship is, not just learn a definition of it," she said.
Kennedy said an important task of the Catholic school teacher is to promote the knowledge of the meaning of the liturgy and the sacraments.
"Our attitude will affect the attitude of the students. How do we feel about celebrating our faith? Children are not attending Mass anymore – they're too busy, or dad wants to watch football and mom wants to sleep in.
"We need to teach the children that we celebrate to mark the most important events in our lives."
Kennedy said Catholics celebrate "to show we are thankful, to express our excitement and happiness, to share something good" and "because we are thankful for all the good things God has done for us. We celebrate the meaning of who we are and what we are to do."
Children certainly don't see Mass as much of a celebration, Kennedy said. "When children can see their faith lives are pertinent to who they are they will come to see the celebration.
"Loving God," she said, "is the key to making loving choices. A relationship with God can lead to a profoundly moral life rooted in Christ."