Revitalizing Catholic Leadership Through the Christian Mysteries

Revitalizing Catholic Leadership Through the Christian Mysteries

Fonte:  Principal connections. Articolo di Ezio Delfino and Francesco Lorusso del vol. 27, n. 3- Estate 2024.

The pandemic not only exposed serious global inequities, but it has also highlighted the intense distress of our youth. Distress that is manifested through young people’s disengagement with school and social relationships, outbursts of aggression and issues with their physical and mental health.

The rapid spread of artificial intelligence (AI) offers interesting prospects for education. However, worrying forms of social withdrawal, such as Hikikomori Syndrome, are also spreading among the most fragile youth.

While the education sector has long been experimenting with interactive and engaging teaching methods, both in pedagogy with students and in leadership and management, an important question arises: Is it enough to rely solely on educational and organizational innovation processes to revitalize schools and close thegap between school and real life, between traditional knowledge and future aspirations, offering a horizon of hope and fullness of life for our young people?

The gravity of the moment is captured in the recent Message of the Holy Father for the launch of the Educational Pact 2 . He calls for new educational paradigms and leadership in education that prioritize the dignity of the human person and educators’ testimony in dialoguing with and addressing the needs of young people.

Beyond strategic planning and functional methodological frameworks, it is crucial that education leaders embody a commitment to believe in their mission and engage with it if improvement is to occur.

Personal testimony of leaders and attending to those who place their trust in leaders are the keystones to an approach to education that meets the challenges of the current ever-changing era. Without these, innovative school practices and methodologies, no matter how well-conceived and structured, risk being nothing more than incidental to education.

If the moral imperative of education lies in knowing we are entrusted with the destiny of our youth and the learning community, as educational leaders, we must reflect on the purpose of educating and on the relationship between learning and real life. This highlights the importance of welcoming and supporting the individual beyond academic achievements. It becomes crucial to operate deeply with a “nuance”3 approach, one that requires us to look at students and collaborators without prejudice and beyond differences, valuing the humanity within them. It is the capacity of an educational leader, who first takes care of and puts into play their own humanity. Educational practices are enhanced by this attitude of love and the humanity of both the adult and the student, who venture together into infinite paths of knowledge and applications, perceiving the beauty of creation and of its creatures.

This aspiration towards a genuine common good, fuelled by profound attention and care for others and oneself, finds authentic foundation in faith. In particular, the Christian mysteries in their deep educational significance, provide educators with models of action that can guide both pedagogical and leadership action.

Reflecting on Father Ronald Nuzzi’s 4 book At the Heart of the Church, Selected Documents of Catholic Education, Alliance for Catholic Education Press, 2012, it is possible to describe and illuminate the essential dynamics of educational processes (recognized by various cultural settings) that extraordinarily express and interpret Christian mysteries: The Mystery of the Incarnation, in becoming

close to others, be they students, colleagues, parents, collaborators, by identifying with different sensitivities, experiences, difficulties and fragilities, welcoming them. An indispensable condition, which, through a great person who makes himself small to make the little ones great, initiates an educational relationship.

The Mystery of the Passion, in perceiving and sharing the hardships of growth, which always require some form of suffering. To overcome difficulties and put oneself to the test, which involves accepting the efforts to patiently develop and experiment with effective strategies, sharing the struggles, accepting disappointments and striving for improvement.

The Trinitarian and Communion Mystery, in animating human relationships so that each person, thanks to the supportive vitality of a learning community, whether it is a classroom or a team, can feel welcomed and valued for who they are, beyond competitive and stereotyped models that flatten individual uniqueness, stifling their creativity and personal potential.

The Mystery of the Eucharist, in perceiving and appreciating the harmony and unity of a community as the result of a gift of self and an authentic experience of human solidarity. 

Thanks to the (re)discovery of a close relationship between Christian mysteries and the educational experience, primarily lived as an act of humility by the adult so as to uplift the young, and concretely witnessed by the educational leader, the hope of fullness and authentic realization of a destiny of happiness can be offered to children and adults alike. In order to breathe life into educational and organizational processes, it is critical that care and concern towards the humanity of others and of self, of a loving disposition – as defined by Michael Fullan from a socio-organizational perspective and by Pope Francis from an experiential and spiritual standpoint – be the central focus. Innovative teaching approaches and organizational procedures, fuelled by the personal vitality of leaders immersed in the four described dynamisms and brought to life by the educational mysteries, will be able to generate new educational and relational paradigms advocated by Pope Francis and bring new relevance to teaching, leading and learning. 

1. Francesco Lorusso: Che c’entra Gesù nell’educare? Il rapporto tra i misteri cristiani e i process educativi, Tau edizioni 2023. (What Does Jesus have to do with educating?) In this book, the proposal, of which this article is a synthesis, is extensively discussed.

2 - 

3 M.Fullan: “Nuance: why some leaders succeed and others fail” Corwin Press 2018

4 Nuzzi Ronald James, Thomas C. Hunt: At the Heart of the Church, Selected Documents of Catholic Education, Alliance for Catholic Education Press, 2012.

Segnala Stampa Esci Home