THE EDUCATIONAL CHARISM OF THE UNITED STATES PROVINCES OF THE BROTHERS OF THE SACRED HEART
Based on the founding charism of André Coindre, this document is the result of a collaborative effort of the members of the Tri-Province School Leadership Conference. It identifies essential elements of the rich educational tradition of the Brothers of the Sacred Heart and their colleagues that are evident in our schools.
We intend it to challenge those in our schools to identify ever more closely with the founding charism of the Institute and to assist in its transmission.
We offer this document as a resource for a variety of applications. These include formation of faculty, staff, school administrators and board members, education of parents and students in the charism of the Brothers of the Sacred Heart, and evaluation of school communities.
The charism of the Brothers of the Sacred Heart is a gift from God to the Church. Our predecessors made us heirs of this charism through their devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. As members of a school community striving to embody this charism, our primary mission is the evangelization of young people. Fundamental to our educational charism is the response of André Coindre to poor, neglected, and dechristianized youth.
Today we draw our inspiration from a spirituality of love expressed in the Gospel and lived through the compassion of Christ. This spirituality informs, shapes, and directs the educational ministry of the school community. Through our commitment as professional educators in the faith, we nurture and model love and compassion in Christian community.
Each and every student is known, valued, treasured, and taught in partnership with the family. Hospitality, availability, personal interest, and concern for others are hallmarks of this charism. We emphasize the formation of the whole person, traditional values, high expectations, self-discipline, fairness, professional competence, and collaboration. The respect, kindness, and concern which flow from the charism are signs within the school of the compassion of Christ.
The following characteristics express essential elements of the educational tradition of the Brothers of the Sacred Heart and their colleagues. The questions which follow the description of each characteristic are offered to assist individuals and school communities to live out this charism.
· a spirituality of the Heart of Christ
Education in the charism of the Brothers of the Sacred Heart flows from a spirituality of the Heart of Christ which permeates the entire school community. This spirituality of love is characterized by relationships based on compassion, attention, affection, and respect for the individual.
- How do we seek to know our students individually, provide personal attention, and show genuine affection?
- In our relationships how do we show an active concern and compassion for others within and beyond our school community?
- How do the school’s discipline policies, procedures, and practices reflect compassion, respect, and acceptance of the individual?
- In what ways do school experiences of reflection, prayer, and action challenge us, individually and communally, to ongoing conversion of heart?
- In what ways do we promote the spirituality of love through school policies and structures?
- How does the school community create an environment in which each of its members can come to know and experience God’s unconditional love?
· integration of faith and life
By integrating faith and life, our students, faculty, and staff demonstrate the spirituality of the Heart of Christ. As educators in the faith, we model for our students and for one another faith in action as a necessary response to the Gospel.
- In what ways are prayer, service, and the sacraments integrated into the life of the school?
- In what ways do students, faculty, and staff model faith and values to each other?
- How do members of the school community support each other in their personal, professional, and faith development?
- How are programs for reflection and spiritual formation an essential part of school life?
- In what ways does the school curriculum as well as its culture, programs, and policies foster the connection between faith and life?
- How does the physical environment enhance the faith life of the school?
· a spirit of community
Encountering Christ in each individual, we build community in our schools through close relationships, shared ministry, and common values. We give special attention to developing a spirit of openness, friendliness, and mutual support. Hospitality, family spirit, collegiality, teamwork, and appropriate consultation are characteristics of our schools.
- In what ways does the school community demonstrate and promote hospitality and openness?
- How does the school demonstrate a cooperative commitment to collaboration and subsidiarity?
- How does the school community facilitate the development of its members’ diverse gifts in order to strengthen their interdependence?
- “…A community is not turned in on itself.” (Rule of Life #29) How does the school community demonstrate solidarity with the works of the Institute of the Brothers of the Sacred Heart as well as ministries in the local and global communities?
- How does the school community support the common good through building trust and by sharing values and purposes?ow doHow
· formation of the whole person
Because students are valued and treasured gifts from God, we accept responsibility for their formation as a sacred trust. We form the whole person by developing the God-given intellectual and physical abilities of our students and by advancing their spiritual, moral, and social consciousness. The total school environment contributes to their formation through emphasis on the modeling of Christian values, high expectations, personal responsibility, and mutual respect. As educators, we model these values through our own personal formation and professional development.
- How is it demonstrated that students are known, valued, and treasured in the school community?
- What does the school do to develop the God-given intellectual, social, and physical abilities of all students?
- How do the school program, curriculum, and policies advance students in their spiritual formation, moral development, and social consciousness?
- In what ways does the culture of the school reflect the virtues of a Christian lifestyle?
- How do personal formation and professional development programs assist in the Christian formation and growth of all members of the school community?
· special concern for the poor and neglected
André Coindre’s concern for poor, neglected, and dechristianized youth is at the heart of our educational mission. We share his determination to provide educational opportunities for as many materially poor students as possible and continue to look for new ways to increase our efforts on their behalf. We work to sensitize the entire school community to the needs of the materially poor. We strive to address the needs of our students who experience learning, personal or social problems.
- In what ways does the school balance meeting its financial obligations and remaining affordable to poor families?
- How does the school provide adequate financial aid to poor families?
- How does the school ensure that poor families are made aware that it is accessible to them?
- In what ways is the school environment welcoming to all students, especially those who are poor and neglected.
- In what ways do the curriculum and other educational programs help to make the school community aware of the issues of social justice and the plight of the poor?
- What opportunities are provided for students and faculty to experience service to the poor and disenfranchised?
- How are the school’s facilities and resources available to less privileged members of the local community?
- In what ways is extra support provided for students who experience learning difficulties?
- What school programs assist in the religious development of the students, especially in nurturing their relationship with God?
- In what ways does the school offer support and guidance to students, poor and without hope, who are experiencing social problems?
In our tradition, we view being with the young as privileged opportunities to show expressions of concern, encouragement, and love. We see availability as a witness to the compassionate love of Christ. It is an active presence, which requires accessibility and approachability. Availability provides the opportunity for personal attention, accompaniment, support, and vigilance.
- How does our availability give meaning to our life, work, and ministry?
- In what ways do we as members of the school community witness our accessibility and approachability to students, their families, and each other?
- How do we as faculty and staff members provide personal attention, accompaniment, support, and vigilance both inside and outside of the classroom?
- How do we balance our availability with other professional and personal commitments?
- How can we ensure that our availability is an expression of Christ’s compassionate love and sends clear, appropriate messages to students and other members of the school community?
· anordered and structured environment
We believe that a well-ordered, structured, and nurturing environment is essential to teach and to experience love of God, love of neighbor, and love of learning. In such an environment, we strive to teach our students to respect authority and one another and to develop a sense of self-discipline. In our tradition, discipline respects the dignity of the individual, is consistent and fair, and is based on relationships of mutual trust and cooperation.
- How do the school’s organizational plan and its procedures contribute to the achievement of an ordered and structured environment?
- How do we establish an ordered and structured environment in the classroom?
- How does this environment promote love of God, love of neighbor, and love of learning?
- In what ways do members of the school community demonstrate mutual respect and cooperation?
- In carrying out responsibilities, how do faculty and administrators demonstrate fairness and consistency?
- How does the application of the school’s student behavior policy ensure a safe, secure, and orderly environment while respecting the dignity of the individual?
- How do the school’s policies and practices encourage self-discipline?
- How do we make forgiveness, mercy, and compassion integral parts of an ordered and structured environment?
- What steps do we take to ensure a clean, ordered physical environment?
- In what ways do we educate students to respect the environment of the school and the person and property of others?