“Go, therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you” (Mt 28: 19-20).
Jesus’ great commission mandates that we make disciples. In Regina Catholic Schools we strive to follow this mandate. At St. Joan of Arc School, they are very intentional about discipleship. In 2013 the school adopted as its mission, “We are called to be disciples.” The staff and students have worked hard to show that they are disciples of Jesus. Both staff and students have attended retreats to help them deepen their understanding of what it means to be a disciple and they talk about and model discipleship within the school everyday.
Recently the school asked all students from Grades 4 - 8 what it means to be a disciple. All of the responses were beautiful, but the one that came up over and over again was “being a disciple means following in Jesus’ footsteps.”
St. Joan of Arc School is not the only school doing a wonderful job of trying to follow in Jesus’ footsteps. Our four high schools — Leboldus, O’Neill, Riffel and Miller Catholic high schools — continue to demonstrate that they follow in Jesus’ footsteps by being in solidarity with the poor. Four years ago these high schools decided to adopt 20 young people from an orphanage in Haiti and support them financially for 10 years. The name of this initiative was High Schools for Haiti. Initially there was some concern that enough money could be raised for this initiative. The worries were unfounded. In the first year of the initiative — and every year since — the high schools have raised more than twice as much money as they had committed to raising. As a result, our high schools have also adopted students from the Philippines who were orphaned by Typhoon Haiyan. The initiative is now called High Schools for Hope to reflect how it has grown beyond its initial purpose.
So committed are our high school students and staff to High Schools for Hope that they raise money for it through a 24-hour fast (which has attracted 160 students this year) and a benefit concert at Riffel Catholic High School. Both of these events involve a lot of volunteer hours and hard work. However, our staff and students are happy to give both as they know that by doing so they are following in the footsteps of Jesus.
Our elementary schools are just as committed to walking in the footsteps of Jesus as our high schools. Every year our elementary schools have done a tremendous job of focusing on the corporal works of mercy especially during the season of Lent. This year the decision was made that our elementary schools would support the Holy Childhood Association, which is a Pontifical Mission Society. Many of our elementary schools have supported this wonderful organization in the past. In fact, some of our elementary schools have even been thanked in the Holy Childhood Association Magazine for their support. I know that our elementary students will be every bit as generous in supporting the Holy Childhood Association as our high school students have been in supporting High Schools for Hope.
Even more important than the money our elementary students will raise for the Holy Childhood Association is the missionary spirit that they learn from participating in it. The Holy Childhood Association seeks to instil in children a missionary spirit so they will learn that no matter how young they are, they can make a positive difference for Christ in the world.
To close, I would like to share one story of how our staffs are succeeding in instilling a missionary spirit within their students and how our students are walking in the footsteps of Jesus. Recently one of our elementary schools took up a collection for charity. One young student handed in a small ziploc bag that contained two loonies and a baby tooth. The student was so excited about walking in the footsteps of Jesus that she donated her tooth fairy money (and her tooth).
Meyers is Catholic Education Services co-ordinator for Regina Catholic Schools.