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Grace in the Family Tree

on Wednesday, 21 December 2011.

jesus genealogyPut to music, the genealogy of Jesus, as it's found in Matthew's Gospel, takes about 2 minutes to sing. The list--3 sets of 14 generations each--includes the names of thieves (Jacob, who stole his brother's birthright) and murderers (David, who stole Uriah's wife and then had him killed), foreigners (Rahab and Ruth), and even a prostitute (Rahab again). In his book on Advent, Father Raymond Brown suggests why: Matthew's genealogy reflects the essential theology of Christianity: salvation by grace.

Of this, Gail Godwin writes, "Matthew's genealogy is showing us how the story of Jesus Christ contained--and would continue to contain--the flawed and inflicted and insulted, the cunning and the weak-willed and the misunderstood. His is an equal opportunity ministry for crooks and saints..."

"And this, of course," Godwin continues, "is where the message settles directly upon us...Isn't this a pretty hopeful testament to the likelihood that God is using us, with our individual flaws and gifts, in all manner of peculiar and unexpected ways? Who of us can say we're not in the process of being used right now, to fulfill some purpose whose grace and goodness would boggle our imagination if we could even begin to get our minds around it?" (Paraphrased from Watch for the LIght, p. 159.)

Listen to the song that brings this genealogy to life.

Your Future in ACE: Consider the Possibilities

Written by William Schmitt on Monday, 19 December 2011.

This blessed time of year prompts us to look back upon cherished Christmas traditions and to look forward to a new year—often considering plans for the future that reflect our deepest values. If these values include education, community, faith, and service to the Church and society, this is a good time to consider the life-transforming experiences of Notre Dame’s Alliance for Catholic Education (ACE).

Applications are now being accepted for ACE’s ACE Teaching Fellows program, which helps to form Catholic school educators, ready to serve at-risk children in under-resourced K-12 schools. Those who already teach can apply for the Mary Ann Remick Leadership Program (RLP), which prepares the next generation of Catholic school leaders, ready to serve as principals for dynamic communities educating the mind and the heart.

These formation initiatives grant a master’s degree from one of the nation’s leading universities and offer an unrivaled combination of professional preparation, community solidarity, and spiritual growth. On-campus coursework at Notre Dame is integrated with online learning and the everyday life of serving in a Catholic school—the matchless opportunity to build skills as an educator while sustaining and strengthening the precious treasure of a Catholic education that gives children faith, hope, and love.

Consider sharing this unique experience and joining this supportive community.

Explore the “journey of an ACE teacher” in the ACE Teaching Fellows program. Meet a recent STT cohort of students and see some of their experiences in a video presentation. The deadline to apply for ACE Teaching Fellows is Jan. 24, 2012.

See the brochure that describes the Remick Leadership Program. Watch an introduction to the program from the director. The deadline to apply for the Remick Leadership Program is Feb. 1, 2012.

From the Field: Greg Rustico

on Friday, 16 December 2011.

For Greg Rustico (pictured with his community, bottom-left), service was the draw to join ACE Teaching Fellows. "Jesus' message in the Gospel clearly commands us to think first of others," he says. "I felt that I could most effectively serve by being a teacher."

Now, after a semester on the job, he adds that teaching is unique as a type of service. "Teaching requires patience," he says. "The results aren't immediately apparent like other forms of service." Thus, Greg has to remind himself now and again that he is making a difference, whether or not he can see it.

His ACE community "of 8 awesome people" in Brownsville, Texas helps him in that regard. So, too, does the recognition that the impact of his service reaches beyond the middle school social studies and language arts he teaches. "I sense that many of my students, especially the boys, are starting to look up to me," he says. "I hope that I can be a strong role model for them."

Click here to learn more about the ACE Teaching Fellows program.

Latino Students and a Prize-Winning Principal Share Messages of Hospitality and Hope

Written by William Schmitt on Monday, 12 December 2011.

Yvonne Schwab, who recently was named among this year's 61 National Distinguished Principals by the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP), says many people and many forces have come together to transform Saint James the Less School, the Catholic school she leads in Columbus, Ohio.

Progressing toward the October 2011 NAESP ceremony and an earlier competition in which the National Catholic Education Association honored her as a Distinguished Principal, Yvonne wrote various essays describing accomplishments at St. James the Less. One of those accomplishments has been a surge in Latino enrollment during the eight years of her leadership—from two students to 260 out of a current student population totaling 497.

Catholic School Advantage: A Letter from San Antonio

Written by William Schmitt on Friday, 09 December 2011.

By Field Consultant Paul Rodriguez

Paul Rodriguez is ACE's Field Consultant for the Catholic School Advantage campaign in the Archdiocese of San Antonio. He sends this update on a success story he learned about while working with the people of St. Gerard High School in San Antonio.

Situated on the east side of San Antonio, Texas, there is a Catholic high school that has served the city’s youth since 1927. It is a school that is rich in history and tradition and has produced some of the city’s most prominent leaders.

St. Gerard High School has been a partner of the Catholic School Advantage campaign for almost an entire year, and as the field consultant representing this campaign in San Antonio, it has been an amazing experience to witness the continued growth and rejuvenation of one of San Antonio’s true gems.

The recent success of the school does not necessarily result from a booming enrollment or state-of-the-art facilities. Rather, the true success of this school emerges from a student body that is motivated and committed to their faith and academics. In addition, the school truly embodies a sense of social justice and service to the community.  In fact, St. Gerard’s has recently developed a satellite campus at St. Peter-St. Joseph Children’s Home (St. PJ’s). Through the partnership, SGH extends the Catholic School advantage to abused, neglected, and abandoned children. 

Most notably, the inspiration and revived spirit of this school are a primary result of the energy and enthusiasm for Catholic education found in their principal, Mr. Peter Rivera. When speaking of the school, he stated, “St. Gerard High School is serving a great need for the urban area of San Antonio in the Catholic Tradition. Our goal is to impart a love of learning in our student body.”

            As a second-year principal of St. Gerard High School, Rivera has revived the appearance of the school on the inside and out. Every time I visit the school, I am amazed by the courtesy of the students, staff, and faculty. Respect and a willingness to succeed as a collective school community permeate the hallways and the inside of classrooms.

            Complementing the discipline and the focused curriculum are the spiritual presence of the Ursuline, Franciscan, and School Sisters of Notre Dame, the vigor of a football coach who shows the utmost care for his players, the grace of an office manager who never ceases to smile and welcome visitors, and the environment of an art room able to inspire even the most gifted and talented artists—and of course the passion of a school principal who arrives early and stays late.

            Sr. Elizabeth Hatzenbuehler, technology teacher and Ursuline Sister, stated, “Our work is about helping students work towards peace and reconciliation.  With the challenges our students face, I try to help them understand on a daily basis that they are unique and that God loves them.”

            Mr. Rivera has executed multiple outreach initiatives to increase the community’s knowledge of the great things that St. Gerard has to offer. During one particular week, I witnessed groups of eighth graders from multiple schools touring the campus, being led by St. Gerard student ambassadors. In the view of Mr. Rivera, students must be able to connect with other students to directly experience the spectrum of school culture. One student, senior Maria Fernandez spoke of the school’s greatness. She stated, “What I’ve learned most is the ability to communicate with all people and confront the world.  St. Gerard’s has taught me about morals and the difference between right and wrong. I could not have learned these life lessons without the guidance of our Sisters.”

            There is no doubt that students who graduate from this institution are equipped to do more than just excel in their next academic endeavor. They are prepared for life as confident individuals filled with faith and joy. Mr. Rivera and the entire school community are committed to the continuing improvement of the institution and the extension of the Catholic School Advantage to more youth in San Antonio.

            Significant increases in enrollment are not an overnight phenomenon, but through excellent leadership and an enthusiastic school community, there is no doubt that St. Gerard’s High School will prosper in faith and hope for many years to come.

Accompanying photo: Maria Fernandez, a senior at St. Gerard's, created this mural for a Mass with the Archbishop.

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