Each year the teachers of the diocese get together for a day of formation and fellowship at the Grappone Center in Concord. Yesterday was the day and we were all greeted with the most amazing homemade donuts and delicious coffee. Father John Fortin, OSB, the superintendent of schools, used the donuts as an example of excellence in our schools. If we just had donuts from some "outlet", he said, we would have not been impressed. But these were obviously homemade and very different and made quite the impression. We should do the same, he said, in all that we do.
The day began with Morning Prayer followed by a talk from Father John on his role and his goals as superintendent and our roles and goals as schools. He pointed out that the things he hears most as he travels to schools is that there isn't enough money or students. But, he pointed out, only 11% of all Catholic children in New Hampshire attend our schools and there are 27,000 millionaires in the state. Let's put the two together, he said. He also stressed the need to build more schools in underserved areas of the state, especially in the North Country. The northern most school is in Laconia and there about about 30 in total.
Following a break, Bishop Libasci celebrated Mass for us. As it was the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi he focused on that saying that we as schools must break our faith down to the very basics like St. Francis did. Referring to the time Francis stripped off his clothes to renounce his wealth and to follow God, the bishop said "Francis began to go back to the basics by subtracting. Because he was divested of things he was able to enter people's lives."
After Mass we broke for lunch and were then treated to an energetic, fast-paced, inspiring, thought provoking, and hilarious talk by Father Andrew Nelson. Father Andrew spoke of what we can do as Catholic school teachers to inspire faith and to bring faith into our schools. He gave a ton of ideas and action items and interspersed his talk with tons and tons of stories from his own experiences in Catholic schools. I was fortunate to get many sneak peeks of the talk as Andrew read parts of the talk during the week and asked for feedback. He was very nervous on Thursday night after the blessing of the animals but I reminded him that he always hit a homeroom. I was wrong this time - it was an absolute grand slam.
He also offered $1,000 to the teacher or teachers who come up with the best plan and ideas to increase the faith lives and Catholic nature their school. Someone came up to him after and offered to double it so the prize is now $2,000!
It's time to get to work.
The Union Leader did a nice story on the day which you can read here.