The Holy Spirit and the Mission of Catholic Teachers , August 26, 2002

Fr. Roger J. Landry
Bishop Connolly High School, Fall River, MA
BCHS Faculty & Staff Retreat Day Rose Hawthorne House, Fall River
August 26, 2002 Is 11:1-4; James 1:19-27; Mt 28:16-20

A. We have a tremendous mission in Catholic education, much more than those in public education.
1) It’s not just to form bright kids, who can get into college.
2) Not just decent citizens and good kids.
3) But it’s to help these young people we serve to come to God, be saved and get into heaven.
4) To get into heaven, you have to be a saint.
5) Therefore, our deepest mission and task is to help these young people become saints, to hunger to get to know, love and serve the Lord in this life so as to rejoice with him in the next.
6) This is a tremendous mission.
7) But Jesus, and the Church he founded, has entrusted that mission to us.

B. Thanks be to God, we’re not alone in our work. We have the Holy Spirit to help us.
1) That’s why we’re celebrating a votive Mass of the Holy Spirit
2) Jesus promised that he would send us the Holy Spirit to
a) Remind us of everything he has taught us
b) Lead us into all truth
c) And fill us with tongues of fire, to speak his words with passion.
3) The Holy Spirit gives us his gifts as well and always wants us to develop those gifts and talents.
a) We see those gifts in the first reading from the prophet Isaiah.
b) They’re first ascribable to Christ, that shoot from the stump of Jesse.
c) But, as we hear in the prayer of the bishop at Confirmation, they’re also sent into each of us.
d) What are they?
1) Courage
2) Knowledge
3) Understanding
4) Wisdom
5) Prudence
6) Reverence
7) Fear of the Lord
e) How much we need these gifts in our work! God knew we’d need him and he wants to renew them in us at the beginning of this year in grace.

C. The Mission of the School is to be “not just hearers, but doers of the Word.”
1) This is our second reading from the letter of St. James.
2) It’s the motto of the school, but also the goal of the school.
3) It’s also the real criterion on the basis of which we should be measuring our individual and corporate success.
4) In order to form others into hearers and doers of the word, we first have to be hearers and doers of teh Word ourselves.
a) No one can give what he doesn’t have.
b) If an adult can’t spell, or is constantly making grammatical mistakes in speech, or really doesn’t read well or much, that person is not really fit to be an English teacher.
c) If a person can’t add, that person really isn’t fit to teach math.
d) It’s the same way with the mission entrusted to each of us by God here at Bishop Connolly. To teach others to be hearers and doers of the word, we ourselves have to be listening to the Word and putting it into practice.
5) For the kids we’re serving, faith is more caught than taught.
a) They need to be inspired by those they admire, to seek the things of God.
b) Everyone of us here will be some child’s favorite teacher or favorite person in the building. Some of us will be the favorite of several young people.
1) That’s a great honor, it’s a great responsibility when we think about it, but it’s also a tremendous opportunity.
2) If they perceive our zeal, our putting God and our faith first in our lives, if we show that God is not just someone we know about but know personally and love deeply and serve faithful, then these kids will be inspired to come to get to know, love and serve him too.
6) The more each of us takes this mission seriously, hearing the Word, putting what the Word made Flesh tells us into practice, the more we’ll inspire the students, the more we’ll inspire each other, the more this school will help us and help them come to Jesus, the Master, in this life and in the next.

D. The Holy Spirit will help us with his gifts, with his words, with the sacraments.
1) Even when we think we’re not getting through with what we say or do, even when we think we’re failing in this mission, he can touch them still.
2) And He’s about to give us all the greatest gift of all, Jesus, overshadowing this altar and tranforming the gifts into Jesus’s sacred body and blood, to help us become more united to God and with his mission of saving each of these kids entrusted to our care.
3) What a great mission this is, not just to form good kids, not just to form smart kids, but to try to form saints, as we try to become saints in so doing.
4) And Jesus, the Word we’re trying to hear and practically abide in, wouldn’t be calling us to this great mission, unless he knew that we, attached to him, were fit for the task.