Faith and Fellowship

A New Era of Faith Formation

The Office of Catholic Schools Receives Grant from the Koch Foundation

In the Archdiocese of Chicago, our Catholic schools emphasize faith, knowledge, and community. Dr. Melissa Link, Director of Catholic Mission and Culture in the Office of Catholic Schools, recognizes the pivotal role educators play in shaping the spiritual journey of our students. In fall 2023, she initiated a new transformative journey to enhance the faith formation experience for our teachers. This journey, which is now taking shape, has been made possible by a recent and generous grant from the Koch Foundation, a testament to their belief in the importance of our mission.

The mission of this program is to equip educators with the knowledge, strategies, and inspiration needed to nurture our schools' Catholic identity. Teachers who deepen their spirituality and understanding of Catholic traditions become even more effective guides for our students.

Phase One of this initiative, launched in the academic year 2023-2024, introduced a dynamic Catholic identity professional development pathway. Through collaborative partnerships with Catholic universities, religious communities, and Church agencies, teachers are engaging in mini-course sessions designed to enrich their understanding of faith practices. These sessions, held online throughout the year, are fostering a sense of community and shared purpose among educators. Teachers have already shared positive feedback about the opportunity to engage with one another, reflect on their faith, and learn practical strategies to apply material to their lesson plans.

In Phase Two, 2024-25, teachers at select pilot schools will use a reflection template to help document their faith formation journey and spiritual growth. Teachers’ reflections are more than just a collection of their achievements. Aligned with the discipleship pathways for spiritual renewal, these reflections serve as valuable tools for demonstrating personal and professional growth. Intentional and structured reflection also facilitates dialogue among peers in local communities, further enhancing the culture of faith within our schools.

With these initiatives, the Office of Catholic Schools is transforming teacher formation and shaping the future of Catholic education. Thanks to the support of the Koch Foundation, we will empower educators to inspire the next generation of faithful leaders, ensuring our schools remain vibrant centers of faith, knowledge, and community for years to come.