The most fundamental questions for the education and formation of young people are the questions about the ultimate ends. These are questions like,
What are we preparing young people for?
What do we want them to become?
Who do we hope for them to be?
How we answer these questions influences the strategies we put in place, the way we form our communities, and the regular practices that we adopt, not to mention how we measure the success of our efforts.
For Catholic educators, ministers, and parents alike, the ultimate end we hope for our young people is to form them as complete disciples—that is, saints. This might sound either grandiose or vague, but in fact it is a quite definite thing. Saints hear the Word of God and act on it, to the point that their whole lives eventually become an expression of charity. Saints are free, brave, creative, generous, and alive.
We also want other things for our young people, not as competition to this final end, but rather as integrated into it. We want them to develop their minds, explore and refine their abilities, take risks, earn a living, contribute to their community, and so on. No one is more aware of the multiple desires and interests that figure into the lives of young people than administrators and faculty of Catholic high schools. Those interests come from the young people themselves, their parents, donors, colleges, and diocesan offices, to name a few.
This book—What Matters Most—offers Catholic school communities the opportunity to engage in lively conversation about the shared responsibility of forming and educating our young people to receive and respond to the Gospel. The book presents the pattern of discipleship from a meditative, theologically informed reading of Mary’s Annunciation in the first chapter, then uses the four marks of her discipleship in each of the following chapters to assess our contemporary condition and propose ways forward.
By clearly articulating “what matters most,” we can more clearly see where we are, where we hope to be, and how we get from one to the other. As Catholic high school administrators and faculty, reading this book together will help you to find space and inspiration to talk about the most important things about your school and your students. The next step is then to engage the parents of students in a similar conversation, utilizing the book as a launching point and guide for honest, aspirational, practical, and utterly meaningful dialogue. To be clear, this is not a book that tries to tell you how to run your school or tells your parents how to parent, but rather presents the Christian vision in a compelling fashion and offers val
The resource for Catholic schools is free and available as a PDF that is easy to share digitally or print out for use. If you have any questions or would like to have a conversation about any of this, please do not hesitate to contact me via the form below or by phone at (574) 631-2915.