Making faith accessible: The Catholic school as faithful, effective, inclusive community

Mary Camille Mortimore, Marquette University


The context, content, and process of making faith accessible to young people within Catholic elementary and secondary schools is examined in light of the faith formation needs of the overwhelmingly lay and female faculties of Catholic schools. The complexity and challenge of the changing American culture and catechetical models in the post-Vatican II Church raise questions of the Catholic identity of the schools and their effectiveness in forming people of faith and practicing Catholics. These concerns are addressed through a dialogic methodology, bringing the disciplines of theology, religious education, psychology, sociology, anthropology, business, and education into dialogue. Integral writings include McBrien, Boys, Harris, Hofinger, Darcy-Berube, Groome, Whiteheads, Vogel, Belenky, Friere, Palmer, Sergiovanni, Barth, and Senge. The constructs of coming to know, believe, and act are examined from the perspective of women as leaders and teachers, with particular attention to the lenses of voice, gender, and subjectivity. A description of Christian Story/Vision leads to metaphors and models for faith formation of teachers and to the ability to make faith more accessible to the young. A taxonomy of the Spirituality of the Catholic School Educator organizes the knowledge-base, skills, attitudes/behaviors of the educator as individual, model and leader, and builder of community. The conscious creation of Christian community in the Catholic school is described through the concepts of collegiality and of Community of Place, Community of Kinship, Community of Mind, and Community of Memory, as well as the five disciplines of learning communities: personal mastery, interpreting mental models, shared values and beliefs, team learning, and systems thinking. Community of Spirit is articulated as the ideal form of faith community, focusing on personal and communal conversion, and integrating the vision of the reign of God into the creation and action-reflection of the Catholic school faith community. Faithful, effective, inclusive community is the result of faith formation and professional development of teachers, in the context of Community of Spirit, fulfilling the teaching mission of the Church. It leads to knowing with conviction, speaking with confidence, and living with commitment in the faith community of the Catholic school, making faith compellingly accessible to the young.

Recommended Citation

Mortimore, Mary Camille, "Making faith accessible: The Catholic school as faithful, effective, inclusive community" (1998). Dissertations (1962 - 2010) Access via Proquest Digital Dissertations. AAI9901733.