Local educator helps write defining document for schools sponsored by Xaverians 

Cathy Reynolds, director of mission and identity at St. Xavier High School, recently served on a committee to rewrite the document that defines schools sponsored by the Xaverian Brothers. (Photo Special to The Record)

A St. Xavier High School educator was instrumental in helping to develop a new document that defines the mission and vision of schools sponsored by the Xaverian Brothers.

Cathy Reynolds, St. Xavier’s director of mission and identity, served on a panel that developed the new document — “Partners in Mission, Understanding the Xaverian Way” — over the course of about two years.

Reynolds said she has worked with the Xaverian Brothers Sponsored Schools’ office for 15 years. Serving in this manner was rewarding, she said.

“It was an opportunity to take a new step forward and renew who we are and how we connect with the life of the Church,” she said in a recent interview.

There are 13 Xaverian Brothers Sponsored Schools located in Kentucky, Massachusetts, New York, Connecticut and Maryland, noted Reynolds. These schools serve more than 13,000 students, according to a press release from St. Xavier.

The Congregation of the Brothers of St. Francis Xavier — Xaverian Brothers — was founded by Theodore James Ryken in Bruges, Belgium, in 1839 with a mission of evangelization through education.

The schools’ first document was written more than three decades ago. It was followed by several others, developed with the same goal of defining the mission, vision, call, goals and criteria of Xaverian schools.

But it was time to take that document and put it into language the schools can relate to today, said Reynolds who also teaches AP psychology at St. Xavier.

“We’re 156-years-old and, while the school is that old, how we operate has to move with the times,” she noted. “There are no religious brothers in our school. We are caretakers of what they started.”

The document will guide how the schools grow and move into the future, she said.

For instance, she noted, the “call to diversity … what does that look like?” she asked. “Or the challenge of academics — the way we teach now differs from 20 years ago. How do we respond to justice and peace; how important is that and where do we put that in our school? What do our young people need to embrace as far as being Catholic Christians today?” asked Reynolds.

The document is a “wonderful way” for the school to look at “who we are and evaluate and see where we are strong and where we might need to develop a better sense of identity and move our school forward in our mission,” said Reynolds. Each Xaverian school has a unique identity, but the mission of the Xaverian Brothers unites them all and that’s exciting, she said.

The new document examines and explains the six calls of schools sponsored by the Xaverian Brothers. It challenges educators — through a number of questions — to reflect on those calls as they pertain to their school. They include:

  • “The call to a spirituality, flowing from a contemplative stance, which is formed by God’s presence in the common, ordinary, unspectacular flow of everyday life.” Educators are asked to reflect on questions such as “How are we responding to God’s call to be ordinary in a world which seeks extra-ordinary/worldly expressions of prestige and power?”
  • “The call to embrace our Catholic identity and Xaverian charism as partners in the church’s mission of evangelization within its ministry of education.” Educators are asked to reflect:“How would we describe the way our Catholic identity is lived out in our school community?”

Reynolds said educators at St. Xavier will take time over the next year and a half to reflect upon the six calls and answer these and other questions as part of their professional development.

Ruby Thomas
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