by Father Stephen Ryan, Salesians of Don Bosco
The Salesians are committed to St. John Bosco’s style, method and mentality of youth ministry. Thus we believe that Archbishop Shaw should clearly have four strong dimensions or criteria in our school. Shaw should be: a ”home” that welcomes, a “parish” that evangelizes, a “school” where young people can learn and a “playground” where friends can meet and have fun. Keeping this criteria in mind is essential in the planning and carrying out of our mission here on the Westbank. If one or more of these aspects are missing, the school is not fully doing its job.
WELCOMING HOME – All of us at Shaw must take the time to make sure that every student is shown that they are known, important and are welcomed. Time needs to be spent in relationships, both within and outside of the classroom. An environment of personal care and concern will make our plan for education and evangelization a lot more credible and appealing. A “home” is a place where young people can relax and can “be themselves.” In education, as we strive for discipline and order, we can never take the joy out of the experience or our students won’t feel at home.
A “SCHOOL THAT PREPARES FOR LIFE” – Salesian education is about helping the young learn attitudes, behaviors and skills that will help them deal with real life. Our goal as educators is not simply to impart academic information to young people. Our goal: Prepare the young for LIFE!
A “PARISH THAT EVANGELIZES” – To preach and teach the “Good News” of Jesus Christ and the joy of being a disciple is the goal of a Catholic school like Shaw. The Salesian philosophy of religious education is never to make a split between religious practice and ordinary life. Holiness is in the ordinary. Simply doing your duties well, studying, playing and working together are moments that give praise and glory to God and opportunities for God to be a part of our lives. There are moments of formal religious expression (school masses, religion classes, devotions etc.) but those more obvious religious moments are all part of the continuum of God’s presence in our daily lives.
A “PLAYGROUND WHERE FRIENDS COME TO MEET.” – Socialization is very important in high school. At Shaw we strive to form a band of brothers who will stick with each other for support as they walk the journey of life and faith. Peer Ministry is an essential tool in religious formation. Upperclassmen learn to take on roles of service and leadership and underclassmen get the correct modeling from their bigger brothers. At Shaw this is highly prized and practiced. Our Household System allows for leadership development and peer to peer formation.