The following story appeared in the October 21 Idaho Catholic Register.
By Deacon Rick Bonney
Recently, Deacon Gene Fadness interviewed me about my retirement from Bishop Kelly High School for a story that recently appeared in the Idaho Catholic Register.
During the interview, he asked me for examples of how Bishop Kelly exemplified Catholicism.
To my chagrin, I was able to give only a couple of examples. As a recently retired BK theology teacher, I should have been able to shower him with a multitude of examples. I realized that if I, a former teacher, had trouble answering the question, what do others, who are not on campus, know about BK?
Education at Bishop Kelly starts with the ideal that all students are to be fully educated – and that includes mind, body, and spirit. The saints and Pope Francis emphasize the unity of the human, which include all three of these aspects of human existence.
Bishop Kelly High School encourages each student to understand that Catholic heritage, traditions, and teachings are intrinsic to all facets of life. Being Catholic is not distinct from being a student, an athlete or a member of a student club. Being Catholic is part of who we are no matter what we are doing.
To give an idea of how this works at BK, the school day starts and ends with an all-school set of prayers, including prayers for our Bishop, priests, deacons, and members of Religious orders in Idaho. Likewise, each class starts with prayer. The morning and afternoon prayers end with the BK school prayer: “Help me to see Jesus in others and have others see Jesus in me.” This prayer, we hope, becomes a part of our students’ lives in and out of school.
The theology department uses the chapel as a regular, meaningful, and important place for prayer. Each week there is Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, Reconciliation services, and other moments for encounters with Our Lord. Father Gregory Vance, SJ, our chaplain, is always available for individual Confession.
Father Vance and the Campus Ministry program help lead students in worship and faith education in a liturgical manner. Retreats for members of the student body are popular and spiritually meaningful. Our choir leader, Mrs. Cooper, engages a full class of singers and musicians to help lead our monthly All School Masses.
In their theology classes, students learn about the Old Testament and New Testament and Church teaching. For example, we discuss with students how the Old Testament points to Jesus in the New Testament. In a recent class, students learned how Moses and the Passover directly connect with Jesus and the Body and Blood of Christ shared at the Last Supper.
We teach classes in morality, the Paschal Mystery, and the Magisterium of the Church. These are just a few examples from our curriculum. We have elective courses students can choose, such as ancient or modern philosophy and comparative religion, which allows them to compare and contrast the beauty of Catholicism with other religions.
Theology teachers consistently teach the faith and return again and again to the Catechism of the Catholic Church as a basis for teaching.
Students learn a variety of prayers, including contemplative prayer after the model of St. Theresa; Ignatian prayer, and the Lectio Divina, which is often used in our classrooms. Journaling is a common experience of all the students.
Classrooms at BK have crucifixes in plain sight.
Religious-themed art is posted on many walls in the classrooms and in the hallways.
Athletics at BK are imbued with our Catholic faith. Each team attends Mass together weekly. Prayer before or after games is the norm, both among the athletes and for the fans before the start of each game. Retreats for athletes are available to each sporting team. The message to the athlete is simple: God and faith are part of your academic and athletic life.
Praise and thanksgiving are intrinsic to the atmosphere at BK. This is true in all course work, activities, and in all clubs. It is not uncommon to see students stop and take time to pray for one another, sometimes with a laying on of hands.
Just like most Catholics today, we encounter certain issues that are challenging for students and teachers. Many times, students and teachers are called upon to bring their Catholic faith to issues that are contrary to Catholic teaching. In our course, “The Catholic Way of Life,” we discuss moral issues and how to understand and love others while, at the same time, staying true to Church teachings.
Pope Francis once asked us to pray fervently “that Christ can take even what might seem to us impure, scandalous or threatening, and turn it ... into a miracle. Families today need miracles!”
I could go on, but I am positive that the students of Bishop Kelly High School are immersed in a safe, moral, theologically sound environment in which they can grow: mind, body and spirit, in unity with Our Lord Jesus Christ and in the Father’s love. With the guidance of the Holy Spirit, students at BK can engage fully with the world and live out their Catholic faith.
Deacon Rick Bonney recently retired after teaching theology at Bishop Kelly High School for 13 years.
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