I recently did a presentation on Catholic identity for the Catholic school teachers of the Diocese of Worcester, MA. Realizing that a portion of my audience was made up of teachers who do not teach religion class, I focused on ways that teachers in any subject area can reinforce Catholic identity in their learning environment in the Catholic school. Here are 10 such ways:
- Begin your class each day with a ritual greeting such as, “This is the day the Lord has made./Let us rejoice and be glad!”
- End your class each day with a particular traditional Catholic prayer such as the Memorare, Prayer to the Holy Spirit, Pater Noster (Our Father in Latin), Ave Maria (Hail Mary in Latin), Prayer of St. Francis, or Hail, Holy Queen.
- Sing a refrain or hymn with your students to begin class. For example, science teachers might consider hymns that praise God for creation such as “How Great Thou Art” or “All Creatures of Our God and King.”
- Decorate with quotes from saints that are related to your field of study. For example, an art teacher may place this quote attributed to St. Francis of Assisi: “He who works with his hands and his head and his heart is an artist.”
- Place in your classroom pictures of saints and Catholic figures related to your field of study. For example, the following Catholics were scientists: St. Albert the Great, St. Hildegard of Bingen, Gregor Mendel, Pope Francis (was a chemist before becoming a priest). The following saints and blesseds were artists: Blessed Fra Angelico and St. Catherine of Bologna. St. Hubert was a mathematician. Blessed Marie-Elisabeth Pelissier and St. Cecilia were musicians.
- Pray a novena (nine days) with your students in preparation for an exam, a major project, or even a major athletic event.
- Every day, ask a different student to mention the name of a deceased loved one and pray for him or her and for all members of the Communion of Saints.
- Find themes from the Catechism of the Catholic Church that pertain to the subject matter you are studying (historical events, literature, etc.)
- Do a 3-Minute Retreat with your class before moving on to your subject matter.
- Invite students to share a sign of peace as they leave your classroom.
What other suggestions would you add for fostering Catholic identity in schools?