In 1952, the Nobel Peace Prize winner was presented to Albert Schweitzer, philosopher, theologian and doctor of medicine. Mr. Gunnar Jahn, Chairman of the Nobel Committee delivered this speech at the award ceremony: “Where thought reaches its limits, there faith begins, and we are then close to religion. Schweitzer himself has expressed it in these words: The world-view based on reverence for life is, through the religious character of its ethic of active love and through its fervor, essentially akin to that of Christianity… What Christianity needs is to be filled with the spirit of Jesus Christ, to become living, intense, a religion of love which it was meant to be. Since I myself am deeply devoted to Christianity, I seek to serve it with fidelity and truth. I hope that the thought has resulted in a simple, ethical-religious idea – a reverence for life.
Dr. Schweitzer believed that the first step in the development of ethics is to foster a sense of solidarity with our human family. In the world of Catholic education, especially at St. Agnes, we see our role as one which offers great attention to bringing the gaze of God into clear sight. This “gaze” teaches our students to view the world similar to the old axiom “one is greater than one million.” While it may appear that my math is somewhat amiss; this saying serves as a reminder that when it comes to people, one million is a statistic, while “one” offers a personal human story. At St. Agnes School, we bring the soul of humanity to life. This approach is where the convergence of reaching the heart and teaching the mind of our students comes into distinct focus.
Bringing the gaze of God into view through the personalization of the human story was recently seen in two noteworthy events. The first experience occurred on Monday, November 25 as each of our grade levels attended a presentation offered by Lillian Sparks Robinson. As a member of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe, Lillian was appointed by President Obama to serve as the Commissioner for the Administration for Native Americans. As an advocate in Washington, D.C. for nearly 20 years, Mrs. Sparks Robinson has devoted her career to supporting programs and policy which impact Native languages and education, social development, and economic development for American Indian, Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander communities. Included in her presentation was sharing the symbolism behind many of the traditions and artifacts which represent the identity of her culture.
The second event is this year’s addition of a new grade level service project. Each month, our 4th grade students visit and spend time with the young children at Maiden Choice School in Arbutus. As one of the last remaining special education schools for severe and profound students in the State of Maryland, the members of the Class of 2024 travel to their campus to read books and complete activities, as well as sing and dance with their new found friends. What a gift it is to see our BEARS serve as Maiden Choice mentors.
As our students engage in the “ethic of active love”, they learn the invaluable lesson of the human story - one person at a time - as they develop a reverence for all life.