Catholic Identity

GSCM chapel-view

“From the first moment that a student sets foot in a Catholic school, he or she ought to have the impression of entering a new environment, one illumined by the light of faith.”1

The Good Shepherd Catholic Montessori celebrates a Catholic identity that illumines our school with the light of faith and derives from our mission to education children in “a Catholic atmosphere faithful to the Magesterium of the Church.”   Our Catholic identity is inseparable from our mission to “enable each child to develop as a well‐integrated human being: spiritually, intellectually, socially, physically, and emotionally.”  This is because the full development of the child demands spiritual development.  It is a need that is innate to the human person. Our model is Christ Himself, who as a child under His parents’ care and guidance “grew in wisdom and stature before God and men.”  (Lk 2:52).  This means that every aspect of Jesus’ personality grew – His mind, His will, and His heart.

The Catholic identity of this school is oriented to engaging the mind, will, and heart of the child.

Our methodology is based on Montessori education and the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd.  In offering this form of Catholic education, “far from imposing something that is foreign to him, we are responding to the child’s silent request:  ‘Help me to come closer to God by myself.’”2

Our Catholic identity is expressed in four primary areas:
a) the educational climate
b) the personal development of each student
c) the relationship established between culture and the Gospel
d) the illumination of all knowledge with the light of faith.” [1]


The Educational Climate

The educational climate is marked by these characteristics:

The Inspiration of Jesus:  Translated from the Ideal to the Real

It is the task of our Catholic school community – teachers, students, staff, parents – to “always and everywhere” translate the inspiration of Jesus into real terms:  in the classroom, in the church, in the atrium, in the hallway, on the playground, in the meeting room, and in the countless informal gatherings and conversations that make up the life of the community.  Prominent practical applications of this include:

• Jesus present in the sacramental life, including weekly Mass, seasonal Reconciliation, Eucharistic Adoration, and sacramental preparation.
• Jesus present in the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd:  The experience of the child in the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd is strongly Christ‐centered.
• Jesus present in the daily cultivation of virtue:  A virtues program, appropriate to the different ages and development of the children, emphasizes the personal qualities that enable us to make the presence of Christ real in our daily lives and interactions.

Partnership between the School and the Home

Recognizing parents as the primary educators of their children, GSCM seeks an active partnership between school and home, a partnership based on faith.   This partnership is realized through an active program of school‐home communication; a variety of parent education opportunities; and recognition of the primary role of parents in sensitive issues regarding sexuality and sexual morality education.

Fidelity to the Catholic Church

GSCM places its mission in the heart of the activity of the Catholic Church and recognizes the Holy Father as the center and the measure of unity in the entire Catholic community.  When making decisions, Board members, staff members, and school committee members look to Church teachings for guidance when appropriate.   With children, we celebrate the annual cycle of the liturgical year.

The Presence of Mary

An awareness of Mary’s presence can be a great help toward making the school into a ‘home’. GSCM honors its patroness, Mary Queen of Angels, through Marian devotions and celebrations.

Non‐Catholic Students

Non –Catholic students and families are welcome at our school and are an integral part of our community.  The religious freedom and the personal conscience of individual students and their families must be respected.   At the same time, a Catholic school cannot relinquish its own freedom to proclaim the Gospel and to offer a formation based on the values to be found in a Christian education; this is its right and its duty. To proclaim or to offer is not to impose.


The Personal Development of Each Student

A Catholic school offers more than education.  If offers Christian formation, a formation that touches every capability of every student, includes the religious dimension, and recognizes the help of grace.

Personal engagement among students

Since they are active agents in their own formation process, students’ active cooperation is essential. The entire spirit and pedagogy of Montessori education is oriented towards the students’ active participation in their education, and is imbued with a spirit of deep respect for the child.

Formation Process:  “horizontal” (interpersonal) and “vertical” (prayer) dimensions

The “horizontal” (interpersonal) dimension of formation is marked by the love, trust, and respect that teachers and students exhibit for one another.  The “vertical” dimension is expressed in the life of prayer that children and adults experience among and for one another.

Contemporary challenges and the religious dimension of personal formation

  • Certain contemporary challenges have particular importance in the school’s mission of Christian formation of today’s youth. These include:
  • Clarifying truth, beauty, and goodness amidst prevailing cultural attitudes and habits
  • Orienting the generosity and enthusiasm of youth in the light of faith
  • Addressing the abandonment of faith among young people and even parents
  • Imbuing faith with meaning, both in regard to critical questions and the urge to put faith into action

The Relationship Between Culture and the Gospel

The educational process is not simply a human activity; it is a genuine Christian journey toward perfection.   In establishing a school culture permeated by the spirit of the Gospel, a guiding principle is “No human act is morally indifferent to one’s conscience or before God.”

Personal Behavior:  The principle that no human act is morally indifferent to one’s conscience or before God has clear applications to school life: examples of it are school work accepted as a duty and done with good will; courage and perseverance when difficulties come; respect for teachers; loyalty toward and love for fellow students; sincerity, tolerance, and goodness in all relationships.”

School‐Wide Decisions:  In addition to applying the Gospel spirit and moral principles to the actions of each individual, a Catholic school applies these to “corporate” actions as well.  Therefore, any activity under the school’s authority should be consistent with the teachings of the Church in faith and morals.   This recalls the importance of “love for and fidelity to the Church is the organizing principle and the source of strength of a Catholic school.”


The Illumination of Knowledge with the Gift of Faith

Faith and reason are both complementary and necessary to achieve the proper education of the child. The following principles serve as guidelines in the illumination of knowledge with the gift of faith.
• An orientation of the learning process toward the integral formation of the person. Faith and reason are both essential for the integrated development of each person.
• Careful rigor in the study of culture and academic disciplines.
• The development of a critical sense.
• Respect for the autonomy of academic disciplines and the rules and methods proper to them. Recognition that such disciplines are not to be seen merely as subservient to faith.
• The proper autonomy of culture has to be distinguished from a vision of the human person or of the world as totally autonomous, implying that one can negate or rescind from spiritual values.

1 The Religious Dimension of Education in a Catholic School, Congregation for Catholic Education (The Vatican: April, 1988).
2 The Religious Potential of the Child, by Sofia Cavalletti.  (Chicago, IL:  Liturgy Training Publications, 1992), p.  45.THE EDUCATIONAL CLIMATE