Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
June 14, 2010
Educators must bring shalom to school
CANADIAN CATHOLIC NEWS
OTTAWA - The mission of Catholic educators is to bring the experience of "shalom" into the schools.
That's the message Father Raymond Carey, a priest with the Portland Archdiocese, brought to the annual general meeting of the Canadian Catholic School Trustees Association (CCSTA) June 3-5.
Carey, a clinical psychologist, said "shalom" is usually defined as peace, but its real meaning is much broader. "It means perfect wholeness, perfect balance," he said.
It is perfect action of opposites together - "all is as it ought to be" with happiness as a byproduct, he said.
"Shalom is what God accomplishes in us."
Carey broke the mission into four tasks: experiencing shalom at the level of the self; sharing shalom with our neighbours; bringing shalom into the environment; and experiencing shalom with God.
It is God's will that we experience shalom - balance, all is as God intended it to be - in our deepest, inmost selves, he said. Shalom is knowing that "you are God's beloved, made in God's image" in partnership with God's ongoing creation.
Students must be valued as persons simply because God values them, he said. Cynicism and sarcasm have no place in the classroom, because they can "rip the heart out of a child."
In sharing shalom with our neighbours, he said, schools must be places where no one is excluded.
"Jesus acted as a minister of shalom even to the ones who were crucifying him."
Carey spoke of the covenantal nature of love and how shalom changes those who give as well as those who receive.
He told the story of how the former Portland Archbishop Thomas Murphy used to regularly visit a small school that often sent him invitations. The archbishop loved the students there and always accepted.
When he developed a pernicious form of leukemia, the students organized a blood drive so the ailing bishop could receive a transfusion.
Afterwards, Murphy told the students he loved them. "I have your blood in my veins," he said. "I am having a glimpse of what it means to have Christ's body and blood in me."
The school is now named after the archbishop.
Carey also spoke of creating an environment of shalom in the schools, where "kids feel safe and know that they are."
Bullying is no longer grabbing a hat or a fight in the schoolyard, he said. It's now 24 hours a day, on the Internet, in the cellphones, "in your face."
Lastly, Catholic educators must cultivate shalom with God. "We are to have with God the Abba! experience Jesus had," he said. "Abba means 'papa.' It's an expression of great intimacy."
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