It is the Clearer and Simpler Way …
There has been much in the news lately about contracts for teachers in Catholic schools, and what can and cannot be in them. It’s disturbing to see situations such as in San Francisco, where there is something approaching outrage because Catholic school teachers are expected to uphold the Catholic faith in their teaching and personal example. Bishops and other leaders of Catholic schools have tried to come up with contracts which attempt to outline what is expected, and what is not to be tolerated. That whole effort seems to me to be causing a mess.
There is, I believe, an clearer and simpler way; namely, an Oath of Fidelity.
At The Atonement Academy our administrators and teachers have contracts, but mainly for the purpose of outlining salary and duties. It’s really more of an “agreement” between the individual and the institution which says “these are the duties and this is what will be paid for fulfilling those duties throughout the year.” These agreements are not the most important document for employment at the school.
The far more important document is the Oath of Fidelity. Each year the administrators and faculty of The Atonement Academy make a public oath of fidelity to the Catholic Church and her teaching. This is done during the Mass, before God and in the presence of the students. We require that our administrators and teachers be practicing Catholics, and the Oath an important way of promising before God to be faithful in living and teaching the Catholic faith.
This is the text we use:
+In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
I promise that I shall always preserve communion with the Catholic Church whether in the words I speak or in the way I act.
With great care and fidelity I shall carry out the responsibilities by which I am bound in relation both to the universal Church and to the particular Church in which I am called to exercise my service according to the requirements of the law. In carrying out my charge, which is committed to me in the name of the Church, I shall preserve the deposit of faith in its entirety, hand it on faithfully and make it shine forth. As a result, whatsoever teachings are contrary I shall shun.
I shall follow and foster the common discipline of the whole Church and shall look after the observance of all ecclesiastical laws, especially those which are contained in the Code of Canon Law.
With Christian obedience I shall associate myself with what is expressed by the holy shepherds as authentic doctors and teachers of the faith or established by them as the Church’s rulers. And I shall faithfully assist diocesan bishops so that apostolic activity, to be exercised by the mandate and in the name of the Church, is carried out in the communion of the same Church.
May God help me in this way, and the Holy Gospels of God which I touch with my hands.
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I’m asked frequently what is the “secret” of the success of our parish school. It’s really quite straightforward. The education we offer is of the highest intellectual calibre, imparted always in the context of the Catholic faith, and strengthened by the daily celebration of Holy Mass with the regular use of the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
It really isn’t that hard.