Bp Vasa To Catholic Teachers: Get On Board With Your Employer’s Mission.

Vasa(1)Bishop Vasa of the Diocese of Santa Rosa in northern California is requiring teachers in diocesan (Catholic) schools to sign a statement called “Bearing Witness” that they will live in accord with the principles of the Catholic Church. In other words, they are being asked to agree to the mission of their employer/school and not act in ways that controvert the mission.

I haven’t seen the statement, but the press coverage implies its authenticity.

When I worked at the Vatican, there was one morning when a Vatican employee had called into a radio show, identified himself as a Vatican employee, and then went on to talk about his relations with his live-in girlfriend. He didn’t use his name; so he wasn’t tracked down. But he certainly created a lot of buzz in Vatican offices. Everyone – even if they didn’t practice their faith much – knew that he’d violated one of the agreements of working at the Vatican. It’s like any business or organization, a certain amount of loyalty to the entity’s mission and identity is expected. When it comes to religious organizations, even more can be required.

Not every teacher at a Catholic school needs to be Catholic, but they do need to be able to interact with students in a way that upholds Catholic teachings. If they cannot do that in good conscience, then that teacher is not a good fit for a Catholic school.

Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI dedicated their pontificates to reaffirming and clarifying Catholic identity. It’s good to see the effects of their work locally. I’m sure Bishop Vasa would appreciate support. You might consider contacting him by email or post.

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30 thoughts on “Bp Vasa To Catholic Teachers: Get On Board With Your Employer’s Mission.

  1. JoshD says:

    @D’Anne, while I completely agree with you about rather having an on-fire protestant than a lukewarm Catholic (I even intentionally brought on-fire evangelical staff members on retreat for this same issue), I wonder if someone who isn’t Catholic can truly convey a Catholic ethos?

    Can someone who doesn’t truly believe in the Real Presence of Christ really convey this Truth to the young people they teach/administer? What about the Pope? Mary’s unique role in the plan of salvation?

    I don’t mean to come off mean, but I just really question this. It is one thing to teach what the Church teaches because you’ve agreed to do so, but it’s soemthing entirely different to be a witness to a reality that one doesn’t truly embrace.

  2. Fiona says:

    I was an aide at a Catholic school, and when we got a new teacher, who wasn’t Catholic that I had to work with, she got rid of all the religion materials, never prayed with the kids, never taught religion, never even mentioned Jesus, ever, and told me when she moved in with her boyfriend! After notifying the vice principle, principal and pastor, it was clear that none of it mattered, so, I quit.

  3. D'Anne Means says:

    Candace, I understand the heart of what you are saying, but you also imply that if someone is not a Catholic they cannot uphold Catholic teaching. I disagree. I am a Protestant and love Jesus Christ and do my best to uphold all Biblical teachings (which should be the core of living out a good example). I was contacted by a Catholic school and asked to interview for a principal position at a Catholic school. I went and visited with the priest. We had a wonderful time sharing our faith. I then asked him why he was interested in having me as a principal of his school. These are his words verbatim: ” I would rather have a faith filled Protestant than a bad Catholic and that is all that seems to be applying.” I worked there for 3 wonderful joy filled years until that priest left and they replaced him with a priest that did not live out the principles of the CHRISTIAN/CATHOLIC faith. He was the one who did not live an example of a Catholic lifestyle, not me. I would also like to tell you that I had Catholics on my staff who lived as Godly examples in all they said and did and other Catholics who were worldly and unGodly in every aspect of their lives. I believe the statement they are asking employees to sign is much more valuable than asking if you are Catholic or nonCatholic.

    1. Antonio A. Badilla says:

      “I understand the heart of what you are saying, but you also imply that if someone is not a Catholic they cannot uphold Catholic teaching. I disagree. I am a Protestant and love Jesus Christ and do my best to uphold all Biblical teachings (which should be the core of living out a good example).”

      How can a non-Catholic uphold Catholic teaching? Now, that is not to say a Protestant cannot be a good Protestant, but if I were to teach in a Lutheran school, I could not possiby uphold the teachings of Martin Luther since I don’t believe in them, precisely because I’m a Catholic!

  4. Anon says:

    My child attends Catholic School in Arch Chicago. Her teacher is not Catholic but does teach religion. The teacher told the kids “there’s not much difference between your faith and mine.” Thank goodness my child was able to stand up and say, “Oh yes there is! We have the body, blood, soul and divinity of Jesus Christ and your church does not. Would you like to become Catholic?” She got sent to the principal’s office and I was called. Of course, I sided with my daughter. If there is “no difference” between our Faith and the Protestants, why pay all the cash for a Catholic education?

    1. Teresa Trujillo says:

      Amen!

    2. Jeff Nunes says:

      It was the “teacher” who should have been sent to the Principal’s office and then dismissed.

  5. Candace says:

    I am a catechism teacher and go to Mass and parish events where I see many of my student’s parents. I believel I have a responsibility to set an example. How can a non-Catholic teacher set an example? We should not be hiring non-Catholics.

    1. Candace says:

      Sorry for the typo.

      1. Antonio A. Badilla says:

        Don’t worry, the new system has no “edit” feature for us to edit our mistakes!

    2. Antonio A. Badilla says:

      Hi. I agree that we should not be hiring non-Catholic teachers in a Theology Department, but if a non- Catholic does a good job teaching math, I don’t have any problem with that as long as he or she respects the teachings of the Catholic Church. Also, in a Catholic high school or another Catholic institution, the principal must be a practicing Roman Catholic in order to keep the identity of the school Catholic.

  6. JoshD says:

    This really isn’t a new development. Most dioceses expect this. I first starting teaching in the Catholic school almost 10 years ago, and our diocese included this as part of the contract of every employee.

    Now granted, this isn’t always well-enforced, but the pledge itself has been in place in most places for quite some time.

    Personally I would like to see a public profession of this by every Catholic school teacher, administrator and staff member, in front of every student and parent at the beginning of the year.

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