Superintendent Eaton reminds educators to help students earn an ‘St.’ before their names

Superintendent of Catholic Schools Janet Eaton conducts a quiz during the Pastor and Principal Summit.

Superintendent of Schools Janet Eaton reminded principals and pastors that their primary role isn’t to help students earn a “Ph.D.” after their name but to help them get an “St.” before their name.

Speaking to nearly 100 school staff and priests Thursday, Aug. 4, in Good Shepherd Hall at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Wichita, she said their primary role is to help Catholic school students get to heaven.

Her father set an example

Eaton shared how her father’s example and the basic formation in the faith she received while in grade school sustained her while in public schools. But times have changed.

“Today we are faced with the great need to foster intentional Catholicism rather than cultural Catholicism,” she said.

There is a need to move from Christendom to apostolic ministry, she said. The difference between the two “is the difference between floating a canoe downriver with the occasional guiding push or steering it upriver against the current with energetic strokes. What happens when the rowing stops is quite different in the two cases. Those who think the current is going their way – when in fact it is against them – will be surprised to find themselves rushing along in a direction they did not intend.”

Associate Superintendent Jamie Finkeldei speaks during the conference.

Embrace the faith

To nurture that shift, Eaton said, educators must embrace the faith and have a personal relationship with God.

“Last year, if you will remember, I challenged our pastors and principals to pray together. Throughout the year, I was able to check in with principals.”
Fr. Curtis Robertson, pastor of St. Patrick Parish in Parsons, and Autumn Carson, principal at St. Patrick School, talked about how praying together bonded teachers and staff at their schools.

After their presentations, Eaton asked those attending to discuss with their pastors to review how they incorporated prayer in their meetings and interactions.
“As we enter this next year I would invite you to continue having the goal of praying together when you meet and if you didn’t this year then start this coming year,” she said. “In addition, all principals have been challenged to pray daily with their faculty. This will be old hat for some and very new for other faculties.”

Priorities set

Eaton then presented priorities the Catholic School Office will emphasize for all schools in the next three to five years:

• To be boldly Catholic
• To manage fiscal resources
• To invest in educators

To be boldly Catholic, she said, she hopes educators will: create hearts aflame for Jesus Christ, provide depth and breadth of opportunities for encounters for students, and provide comprehensive faith formation that moves from Christendom to apostolic mission.

She said the second goal is to manage fiscal resources and the third is to invest in educators.

Hearts aflame

Creating “hearts aflame,” Eaton said, “is about curriculum, Holy Mass, and hiring campus ministers at the high school.” It also includes reviewing retreats, the Regan Catechetical Institute, and the service hours program.

Eaton talked about starting the Kairos retreats at Kapaun Mt. Carmel High School in Wichita and how the plan is to begin working with Trinity Catholic Jr./Sr. High School in Hutchinson to implement the retreat there too.

She said she was saddened that a survey of 10th through 12th grader Catholic school students indicated that only 67 percent regularly attend Mass. “I think that is something that we can build on and improve on but we’re going to have to have everyone’s help. It will take all of us.”

The Regan Catechetical Institute has been revamped, she said, with three goals: to nurture, inspire, and develop personal relationships with Jesus Christ; to deepen our own faith formation, and to celebrate as one body.

She explained how she hopes to expand the Regan Catechetical Institute and went into detail about managing resources including budgeting assistance.