By Liz Sullivan
SANTA CLARA – The Diocese of San Jose ushered in the new school year by holding its annual Convocation Mass on August 17 at Mission Santa Clara on the campus of Santa Clara University.
The theme of the morning event was evangelization. Bishop Patrick J. McGrath has tasked the Diocese with this mission for the coming year to coincide with Pope Francis’ call for the Year of Mercy, beginning on December 8 and running until November 20, 2016.
Sister Dr. Pat McCormack, IHM, was the Convocation Mass keynote speaker. She is an education consultant and a former teacher at Archbishop Mitty High School.
“Teachers are the education arm of the church,” said McCormack. “This is our vocation and not our job. We are called from God, to do God’s work for God. I encourage all of you to pay close attention to the vocation. Through Evangelization God is transforming us into the person God wants us to be.”
In addition, Sister noted the “ABCs of Catholic School Identity.”
ABCs of Catholic School Identity
Accentuate Gospel Values, such as physical environment/atmosphere. Psychological environment/atmosphere. “Speak the truth in love.”
Build Bridges to Evangelization. Be who it is that you say you are. Be balanced. Be disciplined. Be faithful and faith-filled.
Create a Culture of Community. Know your students and know yourself. Seek conversion versus compliance. Model core Gospel values; justice, redemption, restitution and reconciliation. Nurture a “spirituality of communion.” Encourage all.
Sister had a simple message for the teachers as they go about their daily work.
“Remember to always have a smile,” she said. “Pope Francis has disarmed the whole world with his smile.”
Diocese of San Jose Vicar General for Clergy Monsignor Francis Cilia was the main celebrant for the Mass.
During his homily, Monsignor Cilia reiterated the theme of Mercy.
“Today we must focus on the framework of Mercy,” he said. “Mercy is the major attribute of God and we are to be like God.”
Monsignor also echoed the words of Pope Francis when speaking to the teachers.
“Teaching is a beautiful profession,” Cilia said, quoting the Pope. “… it’s a pity teachers are badly paid…because it is not just about the time they spend in school, but the time they spend in preparation, the time they spend on each individual student.”
Said Monsignor Cilia who had a reminder for teachers, especially on the tough days: “be merciful and be kind.”
Several schools are celebrating milestones this school year. Canyon Heights Academy is celebrating 15 years. St. Martin of Tours, 60. St. Patrick, 90 and St. Leo the Great School, 100.
“I am so grateful for all that you do,” said Diocese of San Jose Superintendent of Schools Kathy Almazol. “Be the face of Jesus to the kids coming into your classroom.”
For more information regarding Catholic Schools visit www.dsj.org/schools.