As a Catholic community Saint Francis International School believes that all people are called to holiness. One way that holiness can be defined is for a person to achieve the fullness of being human that our Creator intended for us. As Catholics we believe that Jesus Christ is the model of a complete human being. So, we believe that people will be most like they are meant to be, and therefore most happy, if they become like Jesus.
Being holy and being all that our Creator desires for us to be is no easy task. Holiness, or righteousness, has been a quest of human beings since time immemorial. The Scriptures, both the Old and the New Testaments, describe for us many of human beings' struggles to be more like God intended them to be.
As Catholics we believe that the many people whose stories fill the Bible are one set of examples for us to see how we might realistically become holy. We also believe that throughout history there are many other men and women, who although imperfect, have become like Christ and who stand out as model for us of how to live our lives and become more like Jesus.
At Saint Francis International School we look to three particular saints (the term saint is merely a title that means a person has been held up as an example of holy living) as particular examples for our community for how to be like God intends for us to be.
Our school also looks to St. Francis of Assisi, who founded the Order of Friars Minor (commonly called the Franciscans) as a model of holiness because it is the Franciscan friars who lead our parish.
Openness to Families of All Faiths
Saint Francis International School is committed to the principle that all are welcome in our community. We adhere to the teachings of the Second Vatican Council which call for Catholics to respect the richness of other Christian churches as well as the religious traditions of all those who seek God.
Currently the St. Camillus School and St. Mark School communities includes families from various Orthodox and Protestant Christian churches, families from the Islamic faith tradition, and families that practice Buddhism in additional to the many Catholics who make up the majority of our community.
While all students who attend Saint Francis International School are expected to participate in religious instruction and attend prayer and worship families can rest assured that our purpose in this is to promote respect and understanding of all religions. Students are free to believe and practice the religion of their choosing.
Commitment to the Guiding Principles
of Catholic Education
The foundations of Catholic education go back to the earliest days of the Christian Church when the early apostles and leaders sought to live our Christ's Great Commission and teach Good News proclaimed by Jesus Christ. The early Church quickly came to understand that in order to transmit the Gospel message they had to utilize the greatest wisdom of their era to make the Jesus' Word understandable to all.
Throughout the centuries the Church has seen the value of teaching the fullness of human wisdom. Because the Catholic Church believes that all wisdom and knowledge comes from God, the Church sees the importance of ensuring that young people truly understand and love the truths that humanity has come to grasp over the centuries, whether they be scientific, historical, literary, philosophical, or religious .
Catholic education also has the core belief that knowledge and wisdom for their own sake are not enough; knowledge and wisdom should be shared with all people for the purpose of helping each person to be a better human and to help the world become a better place.
Formation of the Whole Person
At Saint Francis International School we believe that each human being has many parts. Our goal is help each of our students develop all of the aspects of who they are as best as we can.
We work with parents and the larger community to help each develop not only their intellect, but their humanity (their physical, social, and emotional self), their spirit and spirituality, and their service to others. We believe these goals must be infused in all that we do at Saint Francis International.
Celebration of the Sacraments and Prayer
Every school day at Saint Francis International School begins with prayer and prayer can be heard at various points throughout the school day. We believe that we are called to have a relationship with God. Since a cornerstone of building any relationship is communication, prayer is vital because it is a way we can communicate with God.
Each Wednesday we celebrate the Eucharist as a school community. The celebration of the Mass is an extended form of group prayer that allows us to communicate with God in a number of different ways include petitions, contrition, thanksgiving, hearing God's Word in Scripture, offering God our praise and sacrifice, and receiving Christ's presence and grace in Communion.
During the season of Advent and Lent we also practice the sacrament of Reconciliation which gives us the opportunity to clear our consciences, seek God's forgiveness and to know that he has forgiven us and desires for us to be better people because of that forgiveness.
Other prayer forms such as the Stations of the Cross, prayer services, and the rosary are used at various times during the school year.
Study of Theology and the Scriptures
At Saint Francis International School the teaching of religion is a core subject in every grade. Religion class gives our students the chance to explore the beautiful teachings that have come down to us through the generations. In our religion classes we attempt to share with students the idea that human beings have sought God out throughout the millennia and we believe that God has responded.
Through the stories of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Mary and Joseph, Peter and Paul and the many other men and women of the Bible our students come see human beings discovering God and God's desires for his children. The Scriptures, the wisdom of the Jewish faith tradition, and the experience and teaching of two-thousand years of Christians seeking to be holy through the life and teaching of the Church are the sources for the lessons that we teach in our religion classes.
Our religion curriculum includes a Scripture study every Friday during which students preview the upcoming Sunday's readings. Students use this time to read and discuss the readings so when they attend church with their families on Saturday or Sunday they will be prepared and will be able to understand God's Word better.
Preparation for the Sacraments of Initiation
A part of our mission is to help children who are Catholic prepare to receive the sacraments, particularly the Sacraments of Initiation. Students in second grade (and third) whose parents choose are prepared for First Reconciliation and First Eucharist. Eighth graders who choose are prepared for the Sacrament of Confirmation.
Through the parish religious education office,Saint Francis International School l also opportunity to help families receive the other sacraments (such as baptism for children or adults who have not previously received it).
Commitment to Charity and Social Justice
As a community we are committed to instilling in our young people a love of others that is expressed through an understanding of social justice and a commitment to charity. The need for social justice and charity are stressed in our classes.
Perhaps more importantly, we believe in the famous quote attributed to St. Francis of Assisi: "preach the Gospel at all times and if necessary use words." For us, this means that practicing social justice and charity is far more important than talking about it. So, throughout each school year we participate in many acts of charity such as our monthly food collection for the poor, our annual walk for the homeless, and various collections for worthy causes.
We also promote social justice by raising our students awareness of the world around them and showing them how they might act to make the world a better place.
Participation in Christian Customs and Traditions
Throughout the centuries Christians throughout the world have developed many customs and practices to help to people understand the message of the Gospel. During the course of time at Saint Francis International School we participate in many traditional customs such as our Thanksgiving Feast, Las Posadas, Christmas decorations, our annual visit by St. Nicholas, May Crowning, and many others.