By Michael Gresham
The Texas Catholic
More than 300 faculty members from several Diocese of Dallas schools descended upon Bishop Lynch High School on Aug. 9 to share in faith and fellowship.
Representatives from St. Philip & St. Augustine Catholic Academy, St. Bernard of Clairvaux, St. Pius X, St. Paul the Apostle and Prince of Peace Catholic schools joined Bishop Lynch for the second annual Faith Formation Retreat.
The retreat was organized by St. Philip & St. Augustine Principal Erica Romero.
“We wanted to offer teachers and staff an opportunity to practice their faith in ways that are meaningful to them,” she said. “As they do that, I believe they will be able to better share their faith with our students because first and foremost, we are Catholic schools.”
Over the course of the day, educators were provided the opportunity to choose from a variety of classes, ranging from lecture-based courses focusing on the celebration of Mass and incorporating Pope Francis’ encyclical, “Laudato Si: Care of Our Common Home” on their campus to hands-on lessons on how to craft rosaries and sculpt crosses from clay. In addition, groups of educators participated in a pair of service-based projects at the North Texas Food Bank and Austin Street Shelter.
Amy Alvizo, a religion teacher at St. Bernard of Clairvaux, participated in the rosary-making class, calling it a “very spiritual and beautiful” experience.
“There was a lot of laughter and a lot of joy, but we also we are able to reflect and think about the mysteries of the rosary,” Alvizo said. “It’s the story of Jesus’ life and that makes it so special.”
Alvizo called the retreat a great way to start the school year.
“It’s about coming together and remembering what we are here for,” she said. “It’s about being the hands and feet of Jesus on earth and being able to teach the children about God.”
Debbie Merkel, a teacher from St. Pius X Catholic School who has participated for the past two years, said the formation retreat also offered a chance for participants to grow.
“We are actually getting to learn about our faith and share how we teach that faith with others,” she said. “I love that we get that opportunity to share all these ideas.”
The afternoon ended with a Mass celebrated by Auxiliary Bishop Greg Kelly, who praised the educators while reminding them that they teach students a lot more than just coursework.
“You teach them a lot of other things…you teach them respect, you teach them to do their best, you teach them so much,” Bishop Kelly said. “You are planting seeds all the time in people’s lives. Sometimes it’s in very explicit faith-based ways. Others times it’s just through your everyday interactions in the classroom, in the hallways or on the football fields.”
Reading from Pope Francis’ Evangelii Gaudium, Bishop Kelly reminded educators of the impact they make — though sometimes not immediately seen – and urged them to remain vigilant in their efforts.
“Because we do not always see these seeds growing, we need an interior certainty, a conviction that God is always able to act in every situation even if it comes with apparent setbacks,” he said. “No single act of love for God will be lost, no generous effort is meaningless, no painful endurance is wasted.
“Let us keep marching forward; let us give him everything, allowing him to make our efforts bear fruit in his good time.”