Fr. Raymond Carey urged the staff of Edmonton Catholic Schools to be ministers of shalom to each other and to the students they serve.

WCR PHOTO | RAMON GONZALEZ

Fr. Raymond Carey urged the staff of Edmonton Catholic Schools to be ministers of shalom to each other and to the students they serve.

February 23, 2015
RAMON GONZALEZ
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER

God wants those working in Catholic schools to experience shalom so they can be ministers of shalom to Catholic students, an Oregon theologian told staff of Edmonton Catholic Schools.

"It's God's will that we are in shalom relationships with one another," Father Raymond Carey told about 3,200 employees of the Edmonton Catholic School District. "Let's be ministers of shalom one to another."

The priest said shalom refers not only to peace but to wholeness, perfection in Christ and balance with God in one's personal life and in the many roles one may have in Catholic education.

Carey, a priest of the Archdiocese of Portland, Ore., is a professor at Mount Angel Seminary Graduate School of Theology and a counsellor to priests and religious. He spoke at the district's annual faith development day Feb. 3 at the Shaw Conference Centre.

Carey said there are four ways in which God wants us to experience shalom – at the level of the self, with our neighbour, with the environment and in our relationship with God.

"The first way in which we open ourselves to this shalom is through self. It is God's will that we should take delight in God's creation of ourselves," he said.

Carey urged staff to be "ministers of shalom at the level of the self for each and every one of the students with whom we work."

The second way that God wants us to experience shalom is with our neighbour.

"We have to be in a relationship of shalom with one another and our school communities are to reflect that," he said. "We must live in a relationship of respect and acceptance – of reverence – of our neighbour."

According to Carey, those on staff in Edmonton Catholic Schools have the opportunity to be ministers of shalom to students, especially to those in difficult circumstances.

One of the greatest privileges given to educators is that of spending time with other people's children. "It's a privilege every single day that we spend with them."

SHAPED BY STUDENTS

That privilege deepens to the extent educators allow themselves to be shaped and taught by students, he said.

The third way of experiencing shalom is by creating an environment of welcome and hospitality, he said. "The environment itself has to be reverential. Kids, when they have a choice, will choose an environment of welcome and relaxation and shalom."

Carey said schools need to create a safe environment for students, especially those in marginal living situations. Schools should be communities of shalom where all are respected and where bullying, racism, cynicism and sarcasm are not accepted.

"If we have anything other than a culture or an environment of shalom in our schools, whatever it is we are doing is not of God," Carey warned. "God's will for us is shalom."

INTIMACY WITH GOD

The fourth level of shalom is one's relationship with God, he said. "God's will is that we be in a relationship with God that brings us integrity."

Carey said some children have a relationship with God at an early age. That's good, he said. "That's the will of God for us, that we be in this relationship of extraordinary intimacy."

The hallmarks of shalom in relationship to God are gratitude and joy.

"If joy and gratitude are permeating one's life, that's a sign you have had a taste of how incredible God's love is for you," Carey said. "One of the signs that those things are present in our lives is that we live with generosity."

Carey said it is a privilege to teach millennials, children born from 1981 to roughly the first part of this century. "These kids might well be the most generous, the most socially conscious, the most committed to the common good from any generation we ever have seen."

INCREDIBLE GIFTS

"It's really extraordinary and it's up to us not to blow it. It's up to us to make sure that we take these incredible gifts. These kids are confident. These kids want to be in charge. These kids are convinced their generation is going to solve the problems that the rest of us caused in this broken world."

The enthusiasm, joy and sense of wonder that are the characteristics of the millennial generation can change the world if combined with the good news of the Gospel. "It's a most extraordinary gift we are looking at."