To effectively engage and evangelize the students in their care – catholic educators need to take the time to nourish and nurture their own souls.
The recent When Faith Meets Pedagogy 2009 conference in Toronto provided such an opportunity. From the richly inspiring musical stylings of the talented teacher-choir, to the animated youthful Haitian dancers, the grand ball room of the Double Tree hotel was alive and charged with the spirit of God.
The opening keynote address by Father Thomas Rosica, CEO and founder of Salt & Light Television Network, challenged catholic educators to be ‘Prophets, witnesses and lovers of life’ and to be true to the theme (‘Voices that challenge’) of the 2009 conference.
Craig and Marc Kielburger of Free the Children took center stage on day two and held 1,500 catholic teachers in the palms of their hands. Poignant stories of their teacher-parents and details of their precious encounters with such great souls as the Dalai Lama, Desmond Tutu and Mother Teresa of Calcutta moved many teachers from laughter to tears.
The Kielburgers urged their teacher-audience to tell their students that they are leaders and implored them to teach the 3 C’s – “Compassion, Courage and Community” – the keys to inspire our youth to make the world a better place.
The closing comments of Father Rosica’s keynote address are a passionate call for all catholic educators to be champions of hope and voices that challenge:
“Let us not be afraid to open our hearts to Jesus and to proclaim him to those around us. We are his friends, ambassadors, witnesses, servants and prophets. Your playing small in the Catholic School System of this great Province and in Canada doesn’t serve the world, the Church or the educational system. Each of you is called to make manifest the glory of God. And that glory is nothing small!”