I have come that they may have life and have it to the full

John 10:10

Unlocking the fullness of the life through faith and excellence in education

Jesus’ words in John’s gospel express the aim of human life as ‘human flourishing’ (Eudaimonia). Our whole business in this life is to flourish by seeking to form our character through the pursuit of personal strengths called virtues: excellences of character which are theological, moral, civic, intellectual and performative.

Therefore if we can aid the character development of our young people we can help them to flourish.

The Academy’s mission statement; “I have come that they may have life and have it to the full” provides the cornerstone for our community.

The aim of the academy is:

  • Help each child grow in faith and to make the most of their ability.
  • The culture and ethos at St Peter and St Paul Catholic Voluntary Academy promotes respect for the differences and diversity amongst the students.
  • We all acknowledge that each individual learns differently and that by making errors and taking risks we learn important skills for life.

St Peter and St Paul values and loves the uniqueness of every child as being created in the image of God. Our students are wonderful, they are our ambassadors: hard-working, friendly, fun to be with and genuinely pleasant and polite young people.

Our mission (2020/21)

‘…the most public way we declare what we stand for is in our mission statement.’ Raymond Friel (2015: 30)

Development and reflection of our Mission statement

Although in our Catholic school we have had ‘mission statements’ for many years, it could be argued that we have not capitalised on the potential of these statements to harness the skills and talents of every member of staff to work in total support of the distinctive mission of our Catholic learning communities.

From September 2020 we have implemented and developed further our mission statement by embedding the virtues into all that we are as a Catholic school. By making our Catholicity more explicit, we bring on-board our stakeholders in doing so.

‘The school community should reflect on the virtues and select a broad and balanced range of virtues that are clearly defined and express the Church’s vision within the school’s own context.’

We unlock the fullness of life through faith and excellence in education.

CATHOLIC CHARACTER EDUCATION Growing in the virtues and celebrating human flourishing in Catholic schools.

DR CHRISTOPHER DEVANNY

  • Excellence in all aspects of life pursued by repeatedly performing particular virtues that build our character so that we become what we repeatedly do.
  • Catholic Christianity has a particular set of virtues – excellences of character – that it prizes, these are faith, hope, love, justice, solidarity, temperance, courage and practical wisdom. Each of these fundamental virtues also have particular aspects that the Church also prizes because they enable the human person to respond appropriately to situations in any area of experience.
  • Character education is an umbrella term for all explicit and implicit educational activities that helps young people develop positive personal strengths called virtues, and in turn receive a more holistic education, developing the whole child.

“Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have excellence, but we rather have this because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.” (Aristotle)

Our Virtues

Virtue Definitions

FAITHFULNESS – you are loyal to your beliefs or to a person. You are reliable and have integrity. You are trustworthy.

“His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.” (Matthew 25:23)

“Faithfulness is the quality of a friend, refusing no test and no trouble, loyal, persevering; not at the mercy of emotional ups and downs or getting tired when things are tiresome. In the interior life of prayer, faithfulness points steadily to God and His purposes, away from self and its preoccupations.” (Evelyn Underhill, The Fruits of the Spirit)

HOPE –You know that when life gets hard you don’t give up but carry on hoping that things will get better. You dream of a better world or something better that will come in the future. You live for something greater than yourself. Your hope drives out selfishness and boredom and encourages you to engage with your community and do good works. You trust that God is at work moving the world towards what is good.        

“Those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” (Isaiah 40:31)

“Christian hope lends great energy to commitment in the social field, because it generates confidence in the possibility of building a better world, even if there will never exist “a paradise of earth.” (The Social Doctrine of the Church, 579)

It’s always something, to know you’ve done the most you could. But, don’t leave off hoping, or it’s of no use doing anything. Hope, hope to the last! (Nicholas Nickleby, Charles Dickens)

LOVE You accept someone as they are, you care for them, and care what happens to them and you want to share your life with them. You always think about another person rather than thinking about yourself. When you love you put into practice the “golden rule”, to treat others with the respect and kindness that you want for yourself. You love people you do not know by simple acts of kindness and by wanting the best for them.

“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” (John 15:9)

“Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend.” (Martin Luther King)

COMPASSION – You notice that a person is sad, in distress or in trouble, you care about how they are feeling and you want to help them.

“When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” (Matthew 9:36-38)

“The joys and the hopes, the griefs and the anxieties of the men of this age, especially those who are poor or in any way afflicted, these are the joys and hopes, the griefs and anxieties of the followers of Christ.” (Gaudium et spes, 1, Second Vatican Council)

FORGIVENESS You give someone another chance after they have done something wrong so they can make a new start. You let go of your feelings of sadness, anger and revenge. You show your love for the person rather than focusing on the wrong. When you forgive someone you show that your relationship with them is more important than the wrong they have done. You also forgive yourself so that you do not give up when you have done wrong or made a mistake, but have the courage to act differently and have faith that, with God’s help, you can change.

“You, Lord, are forgiving and good, abounding in love to all who call to you.” (Psalm 86:5)

“Where there is forgiveness, there is God himself.” (Adi Granth, Sikhism)

FRIENDSHIP You love your friend for the person they are not for what you can get from your friend. You always want the best for your friend and do not treat them badly but as a person whom you love. Friendships are made if we feel good about ourselves and believe we have things to share. Being friendly attracts people so they want to get to know you better. Friendships are made by people who want to be themselves with each other, so friends listen to each other and share their time and feelings. Friends walk together on the journey of life. 

“A friend is a friend at all times.” (Proverbs 17:17)

“A friend may be waiting behind a stranger’s face.” (Maya Angelou) 

HONESTY You are truthful with yourself and with others. You tell the truth without exaggerating what you say or without sometimes saying less than you know to be true even when admitting the truth may be hard to do. You are reliable because you keep the promises you make. You have integrity, your words match your actions and you do not try to be like someone you are not: you are your true self.

“Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but whoever takes crooked paths will be found out.” (Proverbs 10:9)

“To be really honest means … stating things fairly, not humouring your argument – doing justice to your enemies … making confession whether you can afford it or not; refusing unmerited praise; looking painful truths in the face.” (Aubrey De Vere, Recollections)

KINDNESS – You think about other people, how they feel, and with tenderness you perform an act of care that brings happiness, relief or comfort. You decide to do something good to help someone else, because you know it is the right thing to do.

“Give to him who asks of you, and do not turn away from him who wants to borrow from you.” (Matthew 5:42)

“Do all the good you can, By all the means you can, In all the ways you can, In all the places you can, At all the times you can, To all the people you can, As long as ever you can.” (John Wesley)

GRATITUDE You show you are grateful for all that you have. You are grateful for all the people you know and all the things that happen around you each day. You grow in wonder about the world and see the world and your life as a gift from God. You accept the gifts you have and use your gifts to benefit others. Being thankful helps you to be generous to others. 

“I will give thanks to you, LORD, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds.” (Psalm 9:1)

“Piglet noticed that even though he had a Very Small Heart, it could hold a rather large amount of Gratitude.” A.A. Milne

RESPECT you show respect when you treat other people as you would like to be treated. You treat people with courtesy and kindness not because of who they are or what they have done, but because, like you, they have a God-given dignity. You respect yourself so that you have the confidence to be yourself and not give in to things you know are wrong or not to give in to those who want you to do things you don’t want to do. You show respect for creation through your care for nature.

“So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you.” (Matthew 7:12)

“Show proper respect to everyone.” (1 Peter 2:17)

SELF-CONTROL helps you get things done because you are focused on what you need to do and are organised. Sometimes emotions and worries can get in the way and stop you from choosing to do something. Self-control helps you control your thoughts and emotions so that they do not overwhelm you. You don’t lose control of yourself when you are hurt or angry but decide how you are going to talk and what you are going to do. 

“Like a city whose walls are broken through is a person who lacks self-control.” (Proverbs 25:28)

“But the Spirit produces love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, humility, and self-control.” (Galatians 5:22-23)

LOVE OF LEARNING you have a desire for knowledge and are happy learning new things and growing in understanding. You are attracted by what is worth knowing and away from what is not. You give time to learning and you seek what is true and what is good. You do not give time to rumour or gossip. You are open minded and open to change.

“For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.” (Proverbs 2:6)

“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men.” (Colossians 3:23)

PERSEVERANCE You complete something or do something good even when it is hard to do or obstacles are put in your way. You can be relied upon because you are committed to seeing things through to the end.

“By your endurance you will gain your lives.” (Luke 21:19)

“The beauty of the soul shines out when a man bears with composure one heavy mischance after another, not because he does not feel them, but because he is of high and heroic temper.” (Aristotle)

RESILIENCE You accept that there will be difficulties in life. You see these as a challenge and are not discouraged. You search for your inner strengths and faith to get you through personal challenges.

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

“…Weeping may endure for a night. But joy comes in the morning.” (Psalm 30:5.)

DETERMINATION You are focused on a particular task and you stick with it until it is done. You know that something is important so you make sure that you do something about it. The energy and effort you put into something can show the importance of it to other people.  

“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it.” (1 Corinthians 9:24)

“Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be achieved.” (Proverbs 16:3)

REFLECTION you take time to think about what you have done to learn about what went well and what you could have done differently or better: you think carefully about your actions to see how you can become a better person. 

“The Lord is my light and my help.” (Psalm 26:1)

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 2:2)

CONFIDENCEyou can do things without fears or doubts stopping you. When you are confident in someone, you can trust and rely on them. If you trust in God you have confidence that God loves you and watches over you. Confidence brings peace of mind.

“The Lord will keep you safe” (Proverbs 3:26)

“So do not worry about tomorrow; it will have enough worries of its own. There is no need to add to the troubles each day brings.” (Matthew 6:34)

Acknowledgements

Virtues for Catholic Schools.

VICARIATE FOR EDUCATION DIOCESE OF LEEDS

The Virtues Project© and the The Family Virtues Guide (Linda Kavelin Popov) was an excellent source of wisdom and an indispensable aid to the present document.

Nicholas Austin SJ was a great support sharing his insights and expertise on the virtues.

The Jesuit Institute’s ‘Pupil Profile’ was a useful aid, particularly for attentiveness and discernment.

The Catholic Social Teaching webpage

(http://www.catholicsocialteaching.org.uk/themes/dignityinwork/reflection/importancesimplicity/) was the source of Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama’s thoughts on simplicity.