Saturday 5 December 2015

Sacramental and Gospel imagination in spiritual leaders in school

The culture in which we live, according to Michael Paul Gallagher, suffers from a wounded memory and imagination.  The pace of change, the rate of exchange of increasing quantities of information seems like a carousel ride that has speeded up so that everything else becomes blurred and our personal stories are compressed and flattened.  Music, celebrities, policies and targets change so fast that there seems to be little that lasts and less than can be trusted.  The first book of Kings (19.12) tells us that God is not found in the whirlwind but rather in the still small voice.  It is part of the leader’s role to find the pauses in a school programme which will allow glimpses of God to ease the emptiness of many of our lives. That view of the need for quiet is well made in many places. What is less well known is the sense of God in busyness; where God climbs onto the carousel with us and shares the ride. St Francis de Sales[i] describes this spiritual experience as “an ecstasy of action”. That busyness is well known to many leaders in school and, in Salesian terms, is not a barrier to a sense of God’s presence. It is, of course, a question of balance; we need to be still and we need to be busy, but it would be a mistake to believe that God is only with us in the quiet moments of school life.

One of the ways in which spiritual leaders in education can help to lead in spirituality is to rescue their own imagination and begin to walk the school with the eyes of Christ.  The narrowness of our culture can suddenly emerge with a spiritual depth when a sacramental imagination is brought to bear on the life of the school [ii].   It is then that the school leader, seeing one pupil comforting another, recognises the Good Samaritan at work in young people.  Noticing the isolated teacher in the staff room, they may recognise the prodigal son or perhaps a lost sheep.  Outside in the corridor the leader will see many good shepherds, easing the flocks of young people to their classrooms.  This ability to “see through” a superficial and functional reality to a spiritual dimension is part of the modelling that leaders need to achieve in order to be faithful to their vocation as educators.  It is this spiritual dimension that connects us all into a deeper story of love and sometimes suffering that permeates all of life. It opens out the narrow perceptions of our culture, re-connects with individual stories and opens up the fabric of God’s work in ordinary things.  It gives us a history, a meaning and the purpose for which young people hunger.

These are sacramental moments of imagination because they are “outward signs of inward grace[iii]” which is one definition of a sacrament.  Another implication of this way of thinking is that a Gospel imagination can also suggest to the leader a specific course of action: to praise the Good Samaritan, to wait for the prodigal son’s return, to intervene as a shepherd when people are lost. Therefore the vision of a school leader in a Catholic school begins with the rush and sometimes chaotic patterns of activity that are part of all school communities.  Within that whirlwind the leader should expect to see God present within the Gospel patterns unfolding in their school.  These patterns, traced out in the Gospel, are the outward signs of God’s grace already at work in people and so the activity of a whole school can become sacramental: Outward signs of God's presence. In short, the leader in a Catholic school must become a mystic or risk, handing stones rather than bread to future generations[iv].   This spiritual awareness, waking up to the Gospel and God’s intimacy with life, is the most important dimension of spiritual leadership since from it springs all that follows. 

It is an awareness that does not bemoan the times but accepts what is happening as the holy ground upon which God is revealed. It is an awareness that is rooted in the vocational call of leaders in education. Putting this awareness into words for others is a way of building spiritual literacy.  Being able to talk in a way that allows the Gospel to emerge from life helps others find a vocabulary and tradition within which they can escape the narrowness of contemporary culture and embrace the Gospel as a source of meaning unfolding in each life.

[i] The Saint who founded the Salesian stream of spirituality in the church based on optimism and loving kindness within the ordinary and busy pace of life.
[ii] See On The Way To Life by Fr James Hanvey SJ available on the CES web site.
[iii] Augustine of Hippo (354-430), who was one of the greatest of the early church fathers, defined a Sacrament as an "outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace."
[iv] Matthew 7.9
 It is an awareness that does not bemoan the times but accepts what is happening as the holy ground upon which God is revealed. It is an awareness that is rooted in the vocational call of leaders in education. Putting this awareness into words for others is a way of building spiritual literacy.  Being able to talk in a way that allows the Gospel to emerge from life helps others find a vocabulary and tradition within which they can escape the flatness of contemporary culture and embrace the Gospel as a source of meaning unfolding in each life.

[i] The Saint who founded the Salesian stream of spirituality in the church based on optimism and loving kindness within the ordinary and busy pace of life.
[ii] See On The Way To Life by Fr James Hanvey SJ available on the CES web site.
[iii] Augustine of Hippo (354-430), who was one of the greatest of the early church fathers, defined a Sacrament as an "outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace."
[iv] Matthew 7.9

Friday 30 October 2015

We all need a darned good listening to!

I have always been concerned about the quality of family life, really since my own childhood. I think it is one of the places where there is a huge amount going on both in terms of hurt and of healing. At one time family life was integrated into a community but in the present culture of the UK the family can seem quite isolated from a safety net of support. Grandparents may not be close by, parents may have separated leaving additional challenges for the whole family. Young people may find themselves on the margins of the lives of their parents as work expands to pay an increasing cost of living.

In that more fragmented situation many parents feel the need to think more carefully about how to manage their time and the quality of their relationships with their children. It is not only the adults that are caught up in a process of fragmented and individualised living, children and young people also struggle to hold a shape to their lives and find meaning in what they are doing. The young family members may not be aware of the "shapelessness" of their lives as they react to one type of stimulation after another and it is the parents who will often recognise that all is not well with the quality of the relationships they have with their children.

But what do you do about it? How can parents hope to support and at times protect their children from the fragmentation that seems to surround us all? How can parents ensure that their family relationships are stronger than the forces that threaten to individualise and breakdown the core sense of belonging we all need to grow up healthily? The Salesian tradition has always been strong on letting young people know that they are loved. That bond,a sense of being loved, is a protection against the disintegration of a young person even if , for a time, they may "go off the rails."

Something of that Salesian intuition has emerged in a new study by the search institute on the way parents might need to talk to their children. The research identifies five areas of concern which may need to be reflected upon by parents.

1. Expressing Care: Show that you like me and want the best for me. 
2. Challenging for Growth: Insist that I try to continuously improve. 
3. Providing Support: Help me complete tasks and achieve goals. 
4. Sharing Power: Hear my voice and let me share in making decisions. 
5. Expanding Possibility: Expand my horizons and connect me to opportunities.

It strikes me that these are helpful reflection categories for all relationships and almost a charter for friendship in general. However, the search institute suggests a series of questions about these categories that root them into family life and it suggest that these questions could be raised in a family sharing session.  ell, perhaps that might work in the USA but here in the UK it is more likely that a wise parent will use these five areas to shape the conversations they might need to have with individuals and together with other family members. The questions are at the bottom of this blog.

I like the questions because they have the potential to open up deeper conversations between parents and children on a regular basis. Such conversations were a monthly event in Don Bosco's communities. Don Bosco made sure that he knew how his community were getting on by giving them a good listening to at least once a month and he asked his community leaders to continue that  process. His list of five areas overlapped very strongly with the list from the search institute with the exception of an additional area of discussion about an individuals prayer and spiritual life.

Parents have a huge amount to do in raising families and make great sacrifices to maintain a good home and lifestyle. Their heroism is often overlooked, even by themselves. Children too carry many additional burdens in sharing care for the family and in containing the effects of media and stimulation in our culture. It is easy for family relationships to become over stretched and infrequent and yet the family a potential for resilience in the face of money and media if they can appreciate one another and let each other know that they are loved. The search institute, in framing these questions have reminded us that genuine love, expressed consistently and courageously at times, will always win through.

Let people know that they are loved (Don Bosco)

Search Institute Questions

Express Care: Different families express care in different ways.
  •  How do your family members see each other expressing care? Use these discussion starters to talk about it together.
  • When are times you've felt close as a family? Where were you? What were you doing? What made that time memorable?
  • What sacrifices have others made for you or your family? How have those sacrifices or investments affected your life?
  • What’s something you really enjoy doing together as a family that you haven’t had a chance to do lately? What do you enjoy about it?

Challenge Growth: Challenging growth focuses on the ways we encourage, inspire, push, or otherwise influence each other to try new things, take risks, or overcome obstacles. These discussion starters focus on how this happens--or doesn’t happen--in your family.
  • How has someone inspired you to take on a new challenge? What was inspiring to you about it? What was hard about it?
  • How does challenging other people to grow either strengthen or hurt your relationship? And how does having a strong relationship make it easier or harder to push people to learn and grow?
  • What are some challenges we’ve faced together in our family? In what ways did we grow in the midst of those challenges?

Provide Support: Everyone needs help from other people sometimes. It can be tricky, though, to find the right balance of having others support us and being responsible on our own. Use these questions to talk about the right balance for you and your family
  • Who is someone you admire who really encourages you to pursue your goals?
  •  What do they do that really matters for you?
  • Think about a recent time you were struggling with a challenge. 
  • What are some ways people in the family did (or didn’t) encourage you or advocate for you? How did their response affect you?
  • When have people tried to help you or support you when you didn’t really want it?
  •  How did you deal with that? What might you do next time?

Share Power: Parents influence kids, kids influence parents, and siblings influence each other. Families are stronger when they are intentional in the ways they share power with each other. Use these discussion prompts to explore these issues.
  • What are the ways each member of your family influences others in your family? 
  • This can include personal preferences (such as fashion or music preferences), how your family spends time and money, and core beliefs and values. 
  • Come up with at least one way each person influences each other family member.
  • What are easy areas for making decisions in your family? 
  • What are areas that are harder? 
  • What makes them easier and harder?

Think of several areas of family life where it’s clear who makes the decision. This could include schedule, money, activities, cooking, chores, etc. Try to imagine how these might be different if a different family member made those decisions. Have fun thinking of the possibilities!
Expand Possibility: It can be exciting and stimulating for family members to help each other explore new possibilities together. Use these questions to talk together about how people have opened up possibilities for you--and other horizons you’d love to explore together as a family
  • What is one thing you really enjoy (such as music, ideas, foods) that someone else in the family introduced you to? Tell the story of how they introduced you to it?
  • What do you find to be enjoyable about spending time with people who are different from your family? What can make it hard?
  • Who are (or were) significant adults outside the immediate family who have or had a big influence on your life? 
  • How did or do they influence you?

Sunday 4 October 2015

Chastity and passion- the connection

Some notes taken during a talk by Fr Timothy Radcliffe OP with some additional thoughts added. The conference talk was part of a weekend on the study of religious life in this the celebratory year of consecrated life. It speaks about the place of passion in religious community but the reflections can be applied to all relationships.

Intimacy and celibacy are areas of life experience that have been shrouded in silence and rarely see the light of day. That is unfortunate because as Thomas Merton reminds us, it is important to let God live in us and that we be fully alive. Flourishing people need intimacy, it is a sign of the kingdom of God that men and women who follow the Gospel are fully alive and in love with life. A vowed person who has no love in them has made a corpse of the vow of chastity perhaps burying themselves in a coffin of fear, choosing death rather than life. That makes chastity a sad escape from the body and from the reality of our human condition.

In the past we have tried to explain chastity as emphasizing the universal love of God for all and the vow does liberate us to some extent to express such love in a wide and generous way. But it might also lead us to love all people in general but no one in particular which is a rather poor expression of the love of God. In fact God’s love is both universal and particular and so our vow of chastity must embrace the universal and particular otherwise we risk becoming what one person termed “consecrated refrigerators” clean and pure on the outside but inside as cold as ice. The authentic experience of God’s love is to experience one who cannot take his eyes off you. It is a wide and passionate love that yearns for the flourishing of others. It is a love that is for my comforting and it is boundless. For that reason there is no stranger for Christians because we are all conceived in the love of God. All vocations point to that mystery of love in differing ways and that mystery stretches our hearts towards universality. (A phrase of Thomas Aquinas)

Chastity is rooted in the love of God but it must not try to escape the particular or the challenge to become expansive and stretch one's heart out to others in love, in mercy and in compassion. Religious need to  be faithful to the complementarity of love and not simply be dispensers of  a smug charity. They need to welcome those who come to them through their mission and learn to be friends and sometimes to be passionate. One of St Dominic’s successors, writing to a friend used the following phrase; “am I not yours? Why are you anguished? You are deeply engraved on my heart and I am incapable of forgetting you” (13th century).  Such phrasing is not expressing the language of a cool calculating love but rather a passionate, vulnerable friendship that is not without some risk of misinterpretation. But such love is both authentic and also a truer reflection of the passionate love of God for people as it is expressed in the Gospel.
Similarly Catherine of Sienna is obviously at ease with expressing her affection for her friends and to name her relationships as loving. Without this ability to express genuine warmth, appreciation and at times passion for others our religious houses cannot be places where others feel wholly at home and welcome. Without such passion our houses cannot be homes for our community members because they will seek their sense of belonging elsewhere and religious houses will become hotels. Passion has to be the driving force of our journey to God and that is ultimately al that we have to share on our mission to others. Such passion requires formation if it is to integrate into a community and shared mission to others. There is a danger that such passion is seen as a problem to be removed from religious life rather than as the energy that drives religious life. It needs integration and not elimination. It needs to be brought out from secrecy to flourish in the light of day in community. Rules in this area are still rather thin since the general understanding has been that “special relationships” are dangerous and diminishing of vowed commitment. The general rule seems to have been “thou shalt not”. In that atmosphere the guidelines and boundaries that need to be explored never emerge because these relationships somehow live only in the shadow of community life and are spoken of rarely even when they are recognised. There is work to be done in building the trust and understanding in communities so that the energy and depth that such relationships bring can open up the community in their ability to make a home that welcome all the life experienced by community members.

Communities exist on a spectrum between being a working institution and being a close-knit family. The community can live at neither of these extremes. A community can never be a biological family with all the history and nurture that entails. Neither can a community be just an institution and live functional roles because without affection and sometimes passion it cannot witness to the Gospel. Too many communities in the past have grown into a functional model as numbers have grown and in the process they have developed superficial relationships and abandoned the warmth and the passion that attracts new members.

Pedro Arupe asked people to fall in love and stay in love. That is the language of risk, a language that is not popular in our health and safety culture. Sometimes it is difficult to know what religious are passionate about, are they prepared to take any risks at all? The Woolworth’s stores that closed almost overnight some years ago foundered because they had become risk-averse. They stopped growing and changing. They were overcome by a control culture that became closed to life and therefore closed to God. Gerrard Vann put it succinctly, choose safety or choose life. One of the effects of prayer is to help us to surrender to the spirit and to let go of control. It leads to a recognition that I am not the centre of my life. The art of living chastely is to lose control elegantly and fruitfully and in a way that does not wreak havoc with others’ lives or with our core commitment.

I am called to love as the person that I am and not some perfect angelic being. Fulfilling desire is ultimately about wanting to be who I am in relation to God and to others. Therefore I can only love a person who loves me as I am, with all my commitments and vows. In that sense love reveals reality to desire it shapes it and focuses it towards a plan of love that leads to God. Infatuation on the other hand divinises desire and turns it into lust.  Such desire treats others as objects for gratification and values others only for their usefulness. Contemplative presence, forged in prayer, helps us to love and be present to others and be with them in their world. Such incarnational presence to one another takes us close to the heart of God who is ever present.

The aim of all life journeys is maturity- the glory of God is man and woman fully alive. It is the life project of all Christians to attain affective maturity. That means allowing people to see me as I am and take away the fig leaves of superficial identity which, like Adam and Eve, I hide behind. The journey is into boundless love but the journey does have boundaries. Those boundaries arise out of who I am as child of God. Being faithful to that truth creates appropriate boundaries in the mature religious because the face of God can be seen in the face of others. I cannot use them as objects but as brothers and sisters who in their spiritual dna are spiral bound into the life of God. Recognising the goodness and beauty of others is a vital part of the gift of life that helps us all to claim our identity as children loved by God. But there will be sparks! Passions can overflow and boundaries can be crossed. But the answer is not to say “thou shalt not” but to learn in one’s own heart and in one's body body where those boundaries lie. That learning can only happen through open and honest communication between those involved and an appropriate openness with someone in the community. Secrecy will limit the learning and split a religious into two people with one face for the community and another for friends. That woundedness will do little good for anyone.

Thursday 10 September 2015

Commissioning chaplains 2015

This is the time of year when many chaplains are commissioned or re-commissioned for service in school communities. Commissioning can be a very helpful experience for both the chaplain and for the school community because:

  • It highlights the spiritual dimension of the school and the seriousness with which the school approaches its ethos.
  • It emphasises the different role and relationships that the chaplain has to maintain within other professional relationships at school.
  • It allows the school to recognise its formal links to the church as a a church school, especially if the dean or some local clergy take part in the commissioning.
  • It is a formal invitation for others to recognise and pray for the chaplain and be ready to support their work.
With that said I want to offer a sample which I have been asked to prepare for a new chaplain.

Firstly, the commissioning should be done by the head teacher and, if you have a strong parish link, by the local dean or pastoral area leader.
Secondly The service should be short and fit easily into an assembly slot and it may also need to be repeated through the cycle of assemblies so that all groups are involved.
Thirdly, The commissioning should involve some symbols and especially the handing over of the Gospels from the head or the dean to you with a form of words.
Fourthly there should be a reading from the Gospel and a quiet moment of prayer for you as you begin this ministry in the school.
Fifthly, there should be some brief explanation of the role of a chaplain- perhaps telling the story of St Martin of Tours, reminding people of the role of chaplains in hospitals and in the armed forces.
I like to remind people through the story of St Martin that the chaplain's role is to guard the sacred values of the school community and help them to develop. That means that you could use your school mission statement and incorporate that into a form of promise that you make in public- to support that mission as a chaplain perhaps opening up your informal listening role.

Those are some thoughts so here is a possible running order:


A hymn around discipleship followed by the story of St Martin who's cloak became the first focus of chaplaincy. (If you wanted to dramatise that story it would work quite well in an assembly)

Opening prayer by the head:
Lord, today we welcome a new person  ____n_______ to minsiter to our school community as a chaplain. May he/she hold us all in prayer and walk with us through the challenges and triumphs of our school year. May he/she be a good shepherd for those who are in need, an inspiration for those of us who are weary and guide to all of us in following the Gospel that lies at the heart of our school community. AMEN

A reading from the Holy Gospel according to John (John 10)

I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd opens the gate for the sheep and they lsiten to his voice. He calls each one by name. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for his sheep. Jesus said, I am the good shepherd I know my sheep and my sheep know me and I lay down my life for my sheep.

Head teacher.
I am now going to ask _____N________to come forward and make his/her commitment to the service of this school community as our chaplain. (Pause whilst the chaplain comes forward and stands near the head teacher- head bowed)


_____N_________ as chaplain for our school community you are accepting a role as a spiritual guide within our school. Are you ready to live and work with us as a prayerful example of the Gospel?
Chaplain I am

Are you ready to spend time with members of our school community as a listener and as a learner so that you can understand our spiritual needs and, in partnership with me as the spiritual leader of this school, to feed the spiritual hungers that you find here?
Chaplain I am

Are you ready to pay particular attention to those who are sad and in need and support us as we celebrate prayer and liturgy. Are you ready to make the Gospel of Jesus even more visible in our school?
Chaplain I am by the grace of God

Head teacher
I now invite the whole school to pray for you as you begin this work by saying together the prayer that Jesus taught us. Our Father.

Head teacher
_________N________ I welcome you today as our new chaplain and ask you to receive this Gospel as a sign of your ministry in school. May you live these Gospel values with confidence among us and help us to do the same.

The Gospel is presented.

Head teacher

Lord, we have a new chaplain. May we support them in their work and may they stay close to you so that they can always remind us of your presence in every corridor and classroom. May our school become a holy place where your loving kindness is visible in all our work and relationships. May our chaplaincy bring new blessing on our school. AMEN

Some sort of applause might be appropriate here.

Tuesday 14 July 2015

Ungradeable gratitude for teachers

This week, across all of England and Wales,teachers are finishing school for a well-earned break. Along with the police, nurses and emergency services they are servants of our society and they deserve our thanks and appreciation. But teachers do more than serve, they also secure a future for our children. Teachers open the minds of the young, developing their curiosity and creativity. They open up subjects, improve employability and build confidence in young people for the adventure of life.

One of the hidden burdens that teachers carry is the result of the damage that many young people carry into school. They come with less family structure and more fragile relationships. They arrive in classrooms carrying tensions from home, uncertainty about their worth and with less experience in how to manage the social complexity of school life. Their emotions and behaviour are being tested by life in ways that earlier generations were not. That keaves today's teachers with more hidden work beyond the curriculum.

 Teachers always try to model a calm and balanced way of dealing with youthful tensions. They manage angry and depressed young people back into balance every day and they suppress their own frustration as they do so. That suppression of personal feelings when under stress (often termed psychological dissonance) is what makes teaching a challenging and vocational profession. The personal sacrifice and exhaustion it involves demands an acute self-discipline and focussed motivation. Their modelling of that balance is perhaps the greatest, unmeasurable, gift that they bring to our society.

So let us thank our teachers this week with an un-gradeable gratitude for the hidden sacrifices of this year in school and let us not begrudge them a good rest and a sense of being recognised and appreciated beyond all targets and grades for the great work they do on behalf of us all.

Monday 6 July 2015

Celebration and challenge- a new book from Jim Gallagher

Celebration and Challenge is a friendly book, easy to read and full of the experience and wisdom of an author who has lived through some stirring times in the development of Catholic education. The rich complexity of documents about the catholic school that have been written over the last half a century have been opened up and mapped by Jim Gallagher, making them accessible to busy teachers and school governors across the country.
Jim is able to trace the consistent themes of the church about education. He is able to demonstrate that catholic education is concerned more with bringing young people to wholeness and fullness of life than it is about catholic practice although both are important. He identifies education as a ministry to the local area and places it in the context of "new evangelisation" with all the gradualness that implies.
Scattered through the text are key quotes from the documents and especially from Pope Francis whom Jim identifies as the first recent Pope who has actually been a classroom teacher. Here is just one quote:
I dream of a ‘missionary option’, that is a missionary impulse capable of transforming everything, so that the Church’s customs, ways of doing things, times and schedules, language and structures can be suitably channeled for evangelisation of today’s world rather than her self-preservation.
This quote from Evagelii Gaudium spells out the challenge of being a Catholic school that is not tied to some fearful self-preservation but rather to embrace a confidence in the wisdom of the Gospel and to take it into the public sphere of education as a great way to live. Let Jim guide you through the common sense wisdom of the church's thinking on schools. Be ready to be inspired for a new phase of Catholic education.

 Buy it here
Don't delay!

Friday 19 June 2015

Strengthening the professional dimension of chaplaincy

Lay chaplaincy is a new role and for that reason covers a number of different areas of church and school life in an innovative way. Therefore its reference points are multiple, covering education, church, canon law, youth work, counselling and so on. As the role develops towards a clearer professional foundation these reference points must be recognised and integrated so that role can be supported and integrated into the community of a catholic school.These notes are an attempt to map some of the dependencies which chaplaincy must recognise if it is to achieve an integrated and professional ministry.

History of Chaplaincy
Chaplaincy is an ancient ministry and an emerging profession in many communities and institutions in Britain today. Prisons, hospitals, universities and military chaplaincies are all in a process of rapid development of the chaplaincy role. School chaplaincy too is in the process of changing from a clerical to a largely lay ministry at a time of tension between a secular and a faith based approach to learning. This time of change creates an opportunity to rethink and focus chaplaincy so that it can penetrate the veneer of secular thinking and reach down into the richer roots of the Christian tradition in new ways.

St Martin of Tours
The story of chaplaincy could be said to have started at the gate to the city of Amiens in 337CE. A young soldier in the Roman army was walking into the city during a bitterly cold winter. The crowds were hurrying past a half naked beggar who was close to death. Martin, unpaid and having only his military uniform, stopped and looked at the man who looked back at him expectantly with hand outstretched. After a slight hesitation Martin took out his sword and then removed his cloak and sliced it through the middle giving one half to the man and using the other half to cover himself again.
His cloak, or half a cloak, became a precious object in military and royal circles. It became a spiritual symbol for the whole community. The cloak was used in the taking of oaths and was carried into battle and came to symbolise all that was best in humanity, a symbol of the spiritual dignity of each person and a powerful reminder of the need to seek God in ordinary things. The cloak was called a “capella” a cape. It was kept in a tent or in building that also came to be called a “cappella” or chapel. The person assigned to look after this sacred relic was called the “capellano” or chaplain. The chaplain would control access to the sacred symbol and organise prayers and ceremonies for the community to celebrate the spirituality it signified. These were the first people to be called chaplains. They began firstly in the army, then in royal courts later in hospitals and more recently in education.

Some reference points

Canon Law
Can. 564 A chaplain is a priest to whom is entrusted in a  stable manner the pastoral care, at least in part, of some community or  special group of Christ's faithful, to be exercised in accordance with universal and particular law.
Can. 565 Unless the law provides otherwise or unless special rights lawfully belong to someone, a chaplain is appointed by the local Ordinary, to whom also it belongs to appoint one who has been presented or to confirm one elected.
Can. 566 §1 A chaplain must be given all the faculties which due pastoral
care demands. Besides those which are given by particular law or by special delegation, a chaplain has by virtue of his office the faculty to hear the confessions of the faithful entrusted to his care, to preach to them the word of God, to administer Viaticum and the anointing of the sick, and to confer the sacrament of confirmation when they are in danger of death.§2 In hospitals and prisons and on sea voyages, a chaplain has the further facility, to be exercised only in those places, to absolve from latae sententiae censures which are neither reserved nor declared, without prejudice to can. 976.
Can. 567 §1 The local Ordinary is not to proceed to the appointment of a
 chaplain to a house of a lay religious institute without consulting the Superior. The Superior has the right, after consulting the community, to propose a particular priest.§2 It is the responsibility of the chaplain to celebrate or to direct liturgical  functions; he may not, however, involve himself in the internal governance of the institute.

Youth Ministry

The work of a chaplain in school is focused to a large extent on the needs of young people. Therefore the principles of youth ministry, as expressed in the Bishop’s document “Called to a noble adventure” form another reference point for the work of a chaplain in school. This vision statement emphasizes the need to accompany young people on a journey of faith and allow them to find in chaplains especially a genuine and tangible faith. Here are the main goals of youth ministry for our church.
Goal A
Youth ministry fosters the complete personal and spiritual growth of each young person, acknowledging their specific needs in our society.
Goal B
Youth ministry calls young people to live as disciples of Jesus Christ in the world today, rooted in the living tradition of our church/
Goal C
Youth ministry enables young people to participate fully in the life of the Catholic community, recognizing the intrinsic value of youth and all that it has to offer the church.
Goal D
Youth Ministry sends young people out as prophetic witnesses of Christ, calling the world and the church to a renewal of faith, hope and love.[i]

The Nature of a Catholic School
Catholic school is a place of integral education of the human person through a clear educational project of which Christ is the foundation; it’s ecclesial and cultural identity; its mission of education as a work of love; its service to society; the traits which should characterize the educating community.[ii]

+ leaders and staff understand, and are solidly committed to, the Catholic identity of the school
+ the Religious Education (RE) curriculum is sound, attractive and professionally taught by teachers with appropriate RE qualifications
+ other disciplines also consider the Catholic dimension of their subject areas
+ schools are Eucharistic communities within the parish context where, as far as possible, students regularly take part in Mass and Reconciliation
+ schools continue to be places of prayer, including prayer at assemblies, in classes and in other staff and student meetings, where practices are encouraged such as Scripture reflections, the Angelus, Eucharistic adoration and prayerful silences
+ schools are places cultivating a Catholic imagination, where prayer and liturgy are supported by a Catholic visual culture, including crucifixes and pictures of Our Lady and the saints
+ schools are connected to their local parishes and diocese, through inviting the periodic presence of the bishop, clergy, religious and parents in the school, and through active collaboration with the wider Catholic community
+ families and parishes support their schools in these important endeavours.

New Evangelisation

John Paul II
Living the life of Jesus Christ implies…a living spirituality and authentic morality, strengthened by the word of God in Scripture and celebrated in the Sacraments of the Church. When Christians live the life of Christ with deeper faith, their hope grows stronger and their charity more radiant. The present generation of Christians is called and sent now to accomplish a new evangelisation, a fresh proclamation of the enduring truth. This call to mission poses great challenges, but it also opens new horizons, full of hope and even a sense of adventure. [iii]

Implications for schools- An example from Australia
+ the life and activity in the school would be the context for a personal encounter with Christ and would promote, and never contradict, the teachings of the Church
+ all those involved in our schools would appreciate their roles in receiving and proclaiming the Good News by word and deed, and by the example of their lives
+ students would participate in RE classes, liturgies, retreats and prayers which are, as far as possible, tailored to their place in the journey of faith, addressing the core of our faith and inviting a response
+ special programs would be developed for students who first enter a Catholic school later than Kindergarten (for instance in Year 7) and may not have received much prior religious education
+ schools would work with their local parish(es) to establish programs for initiating children and young adults into the Church
+ other efforts would be pursued to integrate the activity of our primary and secondary schools with the life of the surrounding parish(es) and diocese, so that our young people are given a sense of belonging to a wider Church beyond their family and school
+ consideration would be given to the desirability of establishing Catholic pre-schools, with catechesis appropriate to this crucial stage in faith formation
 + every effort would be made to engage our students and young teachers in preparations for, participation in and enrichment after major religious events[iv]

Liturgical Norms

The celebration of the liturgy in school is governed by the general instructions of the roman missal. But in a context where most of the participants are young and many are unused to regular celebration of the Eucharist other guidelines need to be taken into account. The key document is the directory on children’s masses. The diocese of Leeds points out in its own directory that the directory can also apply to youth..[v]
Here is one section from the directory.
22 The principles of active and conscious participation are in a sense even more significant for Masses celebrated with children. For this reason as many children as possible should have special parts in the celebration: for example, preparing the place and the altar (see no. 29), acting as cantor (see no. 24), singing in a choir, playing musical instruments (see no. 32), proclaiming the readings (see nos. 24 and 47), responding during the homily (see no. 48), reciting the intentions of the general intercessions, bringing the gifts to the altar, and performing similar activities in accord with the usage of various peoples (see no. 34). To encourage participation, it will also sometimes be helpful to have several additions, for example, the insertion of motives for giving thanks before the priest begins the dialogue of the preface. In all this, it should be kept in mind that external activities will remain fruitless and even harmful if they do not serve the internal participation of the children. Thus sacred silence has its importance even in Masses with children (see no. 37). These things should be attended to with great care so that the children do not forget that all the forms of participation reach their high point in Eucharistic communion, when the body and blood of Christ are received as spiritual nourishment.21

Inspection Frameworks and evaluation

In the organisation of the Church, the Bishop is the „first teacher‟ in the diocese with responsibility for the formation and education of his people, with particular responsibilities in schools. Canon 804:1 The formation and education in the catholic religion provided in any school* …is subject to the authority of the Church. Canon 803:3 No school*, even if it is in fact catholic, may bear the title „catholic school‟ except by the consent of the competent ecclesiastical authority. Canon 806:1 The diocesan bishop has the right to watch over and inspect the catholic schools* situated in his territory, even those established or directed by members of religious institutes.
Diocesan Inspection
Diocesan inspection fulfils both the canonical and statutory responsibilities of the Bishop with regard to all schools and colleges in his Diocese. · Diocesan school inspection seeks to support and promote an authentic Catholic vision of education. This education inspires and enables the development of children and young people within the context of a real partnership between home, school and parish. · It works to ensure that all schools and colleges accept the privileges and responsibilities of being Catholic schools in the Diocese and work together to build a diocesan community of schools, united in a common purpose. The inspection focus also works to make secure and accurate judgements on standards.

Christ at the centre- An example of evaluation criteria applied to chaplaincy
1 Being in the service of the Catholic Church (Instrument of Government) 
2 Sharing a mission and vision (Mission Statement)
3 Faithful stewardship (Governance) Foundation governors
4 Personal witness (Leadership and Management)
5 Communion in the family of the Church (Partnership and collaboration)
6 The religious literacy and understanding of pupils (Religious Education and the whole curriculum)
7 The development of the spiritual life (Liturgy and prayer)
8 Encouraging the full potential of every person (Promotion of a Culture of Vocation)
9 The spiritual care of pupils and staff (Chaplaincy) School chaplains
10 The Gospel of life and the dignity of the human person (Pastoral care, support and guidance)
11 The promotion of justice and peace
12 Moral and ethical behaviour (Code of Conduct) Catholic moral teaching
13 The learning environment (School buildings and physical signs of a spiritual environment)

[i] Department of Evangelisation and Catechesis CBCEW available on CYMFED web site resources
[ii] The Catholic School on the threshold of the new millennium (4)
[iii] (Ecclesia in Oceania 2001, 8 and 13)
[iv] Schools at the crossroads Bishops of NSW