If you’ve ever traveled with a tour group for 10 days, it’s interesting to watch the group with its luggage. Luggage comes in all shapes and sizes, usually on wheels, along with backpacks, duffle bags, etc. Some travelers have many bags – two suitcases, a carry-on bag, a backpack, and even a handbag. Sometimes one has to wonder … what is in the luggage?
This year Catholic schools in the Diocese of Wilmington are on a journey. Our diocesan-wide theme is Companions on the Journey. The theme calls us to reflect upon our faith journey through life where, along the way, we encounter Jesus Christ and accompany others to encounter Him as well.
What’s in our luggage as we begin this new year? I’d suggest five items. First, we bring vision to the school year. Coming out of quite a different environment last year, how do we wish to reset for 2021-2022? Our vision calls us to look at faith formation, academic rigor, service, and planning to see what we need, what we want, and what we may leave behind. There is no “normal” to which we shall return. Nor do we wish to return anywhere. Instead, we look to move forward. We are re-defining our vision for the future.
Next, we learned to be adaptable during COVID. We were flexible and resilient. We could pivot and we had grit.
Adaptability to changing circumstances is a lifelong gift offered to our students and to us which will assist in any circumstances they or we may encounter.
The third item we pack in our luggage for this journey is attentiveness. We give time to others traveling with us, listen to their spoken concerns, feel their unspoken worries, and walk with them. While we may empathize (or even sympathize at times) with others, we may not be able to resolve their issues. However, we generously expend our time and attention with them on to help them along the journey.
Joy is of primary significance for the journey. Who wants to travel with others who do not radiate joy! Joy is not happiness where everything is always right, good, or perfect. Joy is the deep feeling from within the soul that assures us that we are in the right place, at the right time, on the right road, with the right people.
Finally, we find humility in our luggage. We recognize that this journey is not about us. It is about the Lord inviting us to our eternal destination. Therefore, recognizing that none of us deserves this great gift won by His passion, death, and resurrection, we move grace-filled along the path. We travel with others who show us better than they can tell us. They are witnesses along the way and we are blessed by their presence.
The journey is set to begin. More than 8,400 students in parish, diocesan, and private schools along with almost 900 educators and staff members have their luggage filled with vision, adaptability, attentiveness, joy, and humility. We encourage families, benefactors, and friends to travel with us bringing the same items in their luggage. Catholic school education remains strong and vibrant in the Diocese of Wilmington because we are able to walk with Jesus Christ as his disciples.
Are you ready?
De Angelo is the superintendent of schools for the Diocese of Wilmington.