Encountering the living God: The integral formation of teachers as witnesses in Catholic elementary and secondary schools
Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (College of Education)
Schools and Centres
Professor Gerard O'Shea
Professor Renee Kohler-Ryan
An examination of the Catholic Church’s documents on Catholic schools shows that the Church holds the primary mission of Catholic schools to be making disciples of Jesus Christ. Because the fulfillment of the mission of Catholic schools depends upon the teacher, teachers need ongoing formation as witnesses, just as they need professional formation. This thesis contends that in order for teachers to be the witnesses that Catholic schools need to fulfill their mission of making disciples, they themselves need an integral formation that puts every dimension of their human nature – body, heart, and mind – in ongoing communio with Christ and His Church. An integral formation such as this is consistent with their nature as human persons and will most effectively empower them to witness to their students. The human person is profoundly integrated – body and soul, intellect, will, affectivity, and senses – and teacher formation will need to address all of these dimensions. Humans typically learn through their senses, and access the abstract and spiritual through the concrete, and so teacher formation most effectively begins with sensate encounters with God in Jesus, given through beauty and liturgy. These encounters move the teacher’s heart, strengthen her will, and communicate the truth to her mind. God also offers teachers encounters with Himself in Scripture and moral formation, so that through divine grace and with their cooperation, teachers’ hearts are transformed and they become clearer witnesses to Him. The New Law, which is the grace of the Holy Spirit, works this transformation so that teachers desire that which is truly good and are empowered to practice virtue that they could not exercise on their willpower alone. Finally, teachers are formed as witnesses when they encounter God the True in reasoned explanations of the Faith. These explanations are more deeply ingrained in the teacher when she reflects upon her experiences, allowing the truth to give her a fullness of understanding that permeates her whole person.
Roberts, A. E. (2020). Encountering the living God: The integral formation of teachers as witnesses in Catholic elementary and secondary schools (Doctor of Philosophy (College of Education)). University of Notre Dame Australia. https://researchonline.nd.edu.au/theses/256