Wondering how to integrate Mission more thoroughly into your school identity? Frassati Catholic Academy in Wauconda, IL, has developed an incredible strategy for the middle school. It is a three-part track, with a different focus for the sixth, seventh, and eighth grades, with each building upon the next.
The beauty of this track is that it is integral, not peripheral, to the middle school curriculum. Sixth graders tend to learn about world cultures and the development of civilizations. In Catholic schools, they also study the Old Testament stories, which highlight our human struggle and how God challenges us to care for each other's needs. The Book of Exodus, for example, illustrates the mission call to Moses to free God's people from physical subjugation, in addition to enlivening their relationship with God.
In seventh grade, Catholic school students gain a more thorough and intimate understanding of their relationship with Christ and His example to all of us. Seventh graders also tend to learn local and state history, so what better year to engage in an apprenticeship serving the needs of their local community, following the example of Jesus? Prayer and reflection about these experiences also deepen students' understanding of their faith and of their identity as people of faith.
Finally, eighth graders are usually challenged to engage with civics, economics, and research, and to look more critically at how historical actions shape future events. It makes sense, then, to have students plan their own contribution and make that plan a reality, considering the practical realities that shape both the necessity and feasibility of this plan. Catholic school students also tend to learn about the Church itself during this year, where it has succeeded and where it has struggled to share Christ's love, and the true meaning of discipleship. It is fitting, then, that as they prepare to leave for high school, they embrace this call intentionally, putting careful thought both into the intention and the execution of their ministry, and experiencing both the challenges and rewards of doing so.
Thank you to Father Ron Lewinski for sharing this plan. Father Lewinski is president of Frassati Catholic Academy and pastor of St. Mary of the Annunciation in Mundelein, IL.