Everything that the Catholic educator does in a school takes place within the structure of an educational community, made up of the contacts and collaboration among the various groups – students, parents, directors, non-teaching staff – that together are responsible for making the school an instrument for integral formation.
— (Lay Catholics in Schools: Witness to Faith, 1982, #22)
Father Baltes’ Reflections on the Five Year Plan
One of the most memorable expressions I recall from my years in Catholic Elementary School was by Sr. Mary Dionysia, a Franciscan sister, who taught language arts. With predictable frequency, she took great delight in tempering our youthful drive to design our futures. With a slightly poetic, and theologically acute statement, she would proclaim, Man proposes but God disposes. Its rhyming mechanism made it easy to commit to memory. Man proposes, but God disposes.
Sister Dionysian’s wisdom was unmistakably clear – no matter how meticulously mortal beings propose plans and intentions for what they would like to see unfold in time, it is God who has the final word. Such an understanding is humbling in that it qualifies our role in the universe. At the same time, it is comforting because it asserts the sovereignty of God’s will, which is not only greater than all human machinations, but always has the salvation of the world as its goal.
Man proposes, but God disposes, does not ignore our desire or diminish our efforts to construct the future. Quite the contrary. It invites us to undertake this responsibility with courage and creativity. It does, however, remind us that at any given moment, we may need to relinquish our time-conditioned plans to the One who knows governs all time, the One whom we acclaim as Alpha and Omega – the Beginning and the End.
And so as we construct and celebrate a Strategic Plan that casts a net over the next five years of our history at St. Joan of Arc School, we do so with both confidence and caution. We must believe in our carefully designed goals and ambitions. And we must also realize that all our goals are subject to the mysterious unfolding of God’s one eternal goal. In the end we are co-creators, co-designers, co-proposers with The Creator, The Designer and The Disposer. And for this, we give thanks. Amen!
Fr. Gabriel, OSB
The mission of St. Joan of Arc School is to provide students a firm foundation in the Catholic faith and the means to achieve academic excellence.