We celebrate Catholic Schools this coming week and this is always an opportunity to acknowledge the world-wide mission of education that our Church carries out every day all over the world. More specifically, we give thanks for the faculty, staff and students here at Holy Family Catholic Academy, as we celebrate our 15th year. Many thanks to our Principal, Kate O’Brien, for her tireless leadership and attention to so many details that help our students to see that they are the ‘Hands and Feet of Jesus.’
The Academy’s motto is “thinkers, leaders, grounded in faith.” While it is a motto for developing our students, the Academy itself has proven to live this motto.
HFCA is a thinker. The Academy is one of the first schools in the Archdiocese to adopt the use of inquiry-based learning. This type of learning develops critical thinking skills. While studies show that most of the jobs that our students will have in the future have yet to be invented, we do know that they will be asked to solve problems and work in teams. Inquiry-based learning develops these skills, takes knowledge and applies it to authentic issues, and introduces the skills of collaboration, communication, creativity, critical thinking. This method of teaching has resulted in HFCA being recognized locally, nationally and beyond.
HFCA is a leader.
- In September, our parish school was one of only 50 private schools in the nation to be awarded the US Department of Education’s Blue Ribbon for Exemplary teaching and learning.
- In October, HFCA underwent an extensive two day review and became the first middle school program in Illinois to earn AdvancEd STEM certification. This review measured HFCA’s performance across 11 rigorous STEM indicators, included meeting with 58 students, and observed both elementary and middle school classrooms. The AdvancED review team concluded, “HFCA’s program gives learners exceptional opportunities to collaboratively address and solve real life problems. You have much of which to be proud!”
- Later this spring, the Academy will complete its multi-year candidacy and seek authorization as an International Baccalaureate World School in the Primary Years Programme. HFCA is the first school in the Archdiocese to be accepted as a candidate in this programme and the first known school in the northwest suburbs. This authorization provides the Academy with access to worldwide best practices in teaching and is yet another indication of HFCA’s leadership in our community and beyond.
HFCA is grounded in faith. Our Catholic faith is integrated into everything that is done at our parish school. Our alums have attended 6 different Catholic high schools and have now go on to attend 13 different Catholic universities.
In addition, this weekend we enter into Commitment Weekend for the Annual Catholic Appeal. Your generosity supports parishes and schools serving financially challenged communities; evangelization and liturgical initiatives to enhance parish vitality; youth, young adult, campus and adult religious education ministries; continuing education for lay volunteers and staff serving in ALL parishes; assisting Catholic Relief Services that help the poor and vulnerable overseas; activities promoting respect for life at all stage; immigration; Kolbe House prison ministry; Peace and Justice Initiatives; continuing education for seminarians and priests ordained for the Archdiocese of Chicago; programs to support marriage preparation, marriage enrichment and family ministries; support for Chicago Fire and Police chaplaincies and other community oriented ministries. Each parish has a financial goal and funds raised in excess of parish goals are returned to the parish. On behalf of those who can’t thank you – THANK YOU for supporting the Annual Catholic Appeal.
Next weekend we will hear from Pete and Cari Pappas who are the new ministry leads for our Lectionary Based Small Christian Communities. Lectionary based means that the group reads and discusses how the scripture readings to be proclaimed at the upcoming weekend masses connect with your life. Holy Family provides each group with DVD presentations, discussion questions and other resources to enhance discussion. Members provide hospitality, laughs, fun and joy, as well as the classic opportunities to grow in faith, in knowledge of scripture and a smaller, more intimate sense of community.
Please be attentive to Pete and Cari’s message and mine regarding the importance of this ministry in the life of Holy Family Catholic Community. You do not have to be an expert in scripture, or even have knowledge of ‘church stuff’ to join a group. However, we do provide training for anyone who might be interested in leading a new Small Christian Community. Leaders are asked to make sure the discussion is balanced and all have an opportunity to share.
I would also like to encourage more groups to form around the topic of work. I am forming some Small Christian Communities around the connection of Faith and Work with a great new book entitled “Balancing Faith & Work,” based on the writings of Chris Lowney. Our own parishioner, John Fontana, has written the forward of the book, and I share his passion for supporting people in discussing how our faith and our work come together. If you are interested in joining a Faith and Work SCC, please contact me at email@example.com or 847-907-3416.