Formation is a goal that goes beyond education. When you care about kids, you long to see them grow to their fullest potential. You want them to have the knowledge and skills to be their very best selves. This includes education, but moves far beyond it. It is a focus on formation. Trends in education will continually be changing, but if we are attentive to formation we can find a foundation that doesn't collapse with shifting trends.
I continue to be formed by a way of living together and personal formation that has thrived from 530 to 2018. Around the year 530, St. Benedict completed his Rule for Monasteries, which is still used by communities of men and women in all parts of the world. That is a strong foundation. Benedictine Schools like Monte Cassino are founded on the values that thread their way through the rule. Some of these values include seeking God in all things, service to others, community, hospitality and a love of learning.
Benedict was a genius in arranging a way of life that allowed diverse people of all ages to live together and to learn and grow individually and collectively. This is what Benedictine education does. Let me give you one example: St. Benedict said when important decisions are to be made, all members are gathered together by the abbot (leader of the community), the issue is discussed, and all members participate in the discussion. It teaches the value of coming to the best decision together rather than focusing on pushing everyone to agree with my idea. These are values that are not just about education; they are values that a person can live by their entire lifetime.
What if you are not Catholic? The Benedictine Sisters were asked to start Monte Cassino School as a private Catholic school that would serve any who wanted this education. To paraphrase what many Catholic institutions say, "We don't operate this school because all our students are Catholic; we operate it because we are Catholic." Since 1926, Monte Cassino School has educated children of all faith traditions or no faith tradition. Do we live the Benedictine Values within the context of our Catholic faith? Of course. At the same time, the Benedictine values are compatible with all faith traditions.
Sister Julia Marie Roy, O.S.B.