What is a Charism?
The charism of Catholic education can be thought of as its special educational gift that is used to contribute to the common good and glorify God in church and world.
Charism is a way to provide the necessary focussed religious identity for Catholic schools.
Charim is a characteristic of a school, a definer of its ethos and it gives a school its overarching distinctiveness. The more focussed a school’s identity, the stronger its culture.
The Congregation for Catholic Education (1982) observes:
Certain elements will be characteristic of all Catholic schools. But these can be expressed in a variety of ways; often enough, the concrete expression will correspond to the specific charism of the religious institue that founded the school and continues to direct it. Whatever be its origin each Catholic school can preserve its own specific character, spelled out in an educational philosophy, rationale or its own pedagogy. (par. 39)
Each Catholic school may choose to emphasize a particular aspect of Christ’s message through its Charism. Charism provides Catholic schools with a faith-based vocabulary to define its core values in religious terms. Schools can derive their special character from the religious order that founded or staffed the school or they can also base their special identity on the charism of significant saints or other religious heroes or heroines.
School communities can show evidence of their charism through:
The sharing of important stories – the founding story, the saint’s story, the history of the community and the history of its leaders.
Looking at the charism of the founder(s) or saints associated with the school.
Making explicit the charism in relationships and procedures throughout the school community.
Celebrating the charism at specific times of the year – feast days, memorials etc. – in school and class liturgies and prayers.
Embedding the charism in school and community programs that reach out in services to the wider community.
Visible symbols in the schol community.
Retreats as reflection days for students and staff.
The witness of the school community.