In coordination with U.S. Catholic Bishops’ new national faith formation goals, Benilde-St. Margaret’s will instate several major changes to the religion department for the 2010-2011 school year. Among these changes will be new mandated classes for underclassmen, five-day a week schedules, and an overall re-working of the entire curriculum.
Because the religion department has included most religion classes that don’t meet every day for over a decade, many students are hesitant about the change. “I think it’s ridiculous,” said junior Natalie Duthoy, “It seems like a huge hassle to completely reorganize the schedules for underclassmen.”
However, religion teachers realize that student feedback is important to success, “It’s part of the growth process for students to express themselves. It’s our job as teachers to guide them in giving feedback in respectful and appropriate ways,” said Ms. Hoey-Germann.
Beginning with the addition of new published textbooks in 2010, all religion classes will feature the same “seat time” as other academic classes, meaning five days a week. Not only will this give students more time learning about theology in the classroom, but more opportunities of other faith experiences in the scheduled time as well. “[BSM] believes that one’s faith is not formed only in a classroom but through a variety of experiences including campus ministry and service experiences,” said Ms. Hoey-Germann.
Throughout the years, BSM has always made a commitment to continuous improvement of its faith department through ISAC surveys, strategic plan surveys, and self assessments. BSM took the recent Catholic bishop’s new guidelines as an opportunity to make significant changes in its faith formation, which includes classes, campus ministry and the service programs. “If a student moves from one of the coasts and enrolls at BSM, they will have covered similar materials and be in approximately the same place as far as curriculum,” said Ms. Hoey-Germann.
Though the changes were under the direction of each diocese’s bishop–meaning they were not mandatory–Archbishop Neinstedt has asked all schools within our Archdiocese to implement the changes. “Archbishop Neinstedt has been flexible and supportive,” said Ms. Hoey-Germann, “the bishops have defined the curriculum framework, but theology teachers will continue to use their unique style to present material.”
To help cater to students’ needs during these changes, the faith deparment gave a survey to the high school before Easter. “Our hope is that the results of the survey will guide us in meeting the needs of students on their faith journey,” said Ms. Hoey-Germann, “We tend to have a lot of fun with this planning process because of our commitment to making theological learning and the faith journey challenging and rich for our students.”
Although these changes will undoubtedly present challenges for the theology department, such as scheduling gym classes, Ms. Hoey-Germann remains optimistic with the vast new opportunities, “Continuous improvement is always a positive. Change and transitions take time, but with our committed theology teachers, campus minister, service coordinator, and student input, BSM will continue to be innovate and distinctive in it’s faith formation programs.”
As the administration continues to evaluate course offerings and more materials are released, additional changes to the religion department are expected in 2011-2012.