Reflection from Brigid Cashman, Religion Coordinator & High School Guidance Chair
Faith Formation Flourishes at FXW
“Believe and receive [the Holy] Spirit. With the gift of the Spirit, you are called to be bridgebuilders. You are God’s connection on earth, the bridge to connect to each other and bring forth the Spirit of Hope.” ~Fr. Tom Hurley
The Confirmandi, or those who have been confirmed, heard these encouraging yet challenging words from Fr. Hurley on Saturday, March 20 at our Catholic Confirmation ceremonies at Old St. Patrick’s Church. Through the process of preparing for this milestone, each Confirmand selected a Catholic saint’s name to add to their identify of faith. And, by making the decision themselves to become a confirmed Catholic, these Grade 8 students have aligned organically with the FXW mission and have committed themselves to help make the world a better place:
“I will live out my Confirmation by always seeking to help people and guide them. To be a role model for all people. And to live like Jesus with compassion, love, and understanding.” ~Cecelia “Elizabeth” Harper
“Being confirmed in the Catholic church…will motivate me to help anyone I can with mercy and love…to do good in the world…to be the best person I can be,” ~Oscar “Guadalupe” Vazquez
“Confirmation…is your crossing a bridge to those expectations of trying to live like Jesus…being a good person…caring for others…spreading kindness…and more.” ~McKenzie “Anne” Kiley
Our newly confirmed Catholic students are not alone in being challenged to become “bridge builders” in the world. That is the essence of the FXW Charisms of Service and Faith. While the pandemic has altered how both religion and liturgy present themselves at FXW, the power and intentionality of both programs has not wavered.
As a Catholic school that embodies what it means to be “catholic-with-a-small c”, universal and accessible to all, FXW celebrates its interfaith reality and continues to partner with not only both our pastors/Catholic parishes, but also with the many faith traditions represented in the FXW Community.
At the beginning of Passover a few weeks ago, the entire Grade 6 class (as is also the tradition in Grade 2) learned about the history, customs, and prayers of this holy season by participating in a Passover Seder, led by several Jewish HNC Campus staff members. This past fall, several FXW Hindu families assembled an informative video to explain Diwali, the season of lights for those who practice Hinduism. While unable to attend services on Ash Wednesday due to the pandemic, both Catholic (Moonbeams) and Shooting Starts (multi-faith) students at both campuses vowed to improve themselves or the world around them for the 40days of Lent by crafting pledges on cut-out hearts in honor of this year’s school-wide theme: “Hearts of Love for Lent”. This spring, several Grade 8 students will be confirmed in their respective Protestant churches as well.
Today, we enter the sacred season of Ramadan, and with the guidance of several Muslim FXW families, students will learn about the powerful act of fasting in the Muslim tradition. Many FXW staff members will also join our Muslim families in fasting during Ramadan. Let us keep our Muslim families in our prayers during this most holy month.
Due to the pandemic and the need for cohorts of students to remain intact, teaching religion with both Moonbeams and Shooting Stars in the same groups this year has brought its challenges—and its blessings. While all students continue to expand their understanding of Catholic tradition and teachings, they are also digging more deeply into the tenets of the many faith traditions represented within our community. And the overall conclusion that seems to resonate from each grade level is this: there are more similarities than differences among the world’s religions.
Brennan O’Connell-Miller, confirmed into the Presbyterian faith at Fourth Presbyterian Church on April 11, has profoundly articulated this truth after attending FXW religion classes for many years and through preparation for her Confirmation:
“I think so many religions are more similar than different…Jesus and God love all people regardless of their skin color, gender, what God or gods they worship or who they love…I believe faith should be lived out by helping make the world a better place.”
Thank you to our founders and dreamers of our most special School who believed so strongly in this truth that they strived to make it a reality in their vision of FXW. And their dream has come true.
—Brigid Cashman, Religion Coordinator & High School Guidance Chair