Every parent desires their children to be filled with authentic peace and joy, but achieving this can be an incredibly difficult endeavor. To help with this task, Zachary Coyle, Principal of St. Vincent de Paul School, Fort Wayne, has recently undertaken an initiative to equip families with strategies for finding deeper unity and purpose.
The host of a new podcast entitled “Spirit in the Schools”, Coyle invites educators from across the diocese to share with listeners about how the Holy Spirit is alive in local Catholic schools, while offering tips for parents on how to consider bringing these practices into family life. Each episode is focused on a different fruit of the Holy Spirit, which traditionally include charity, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, generosity, gentleness, faithfulness, modesty, self-control, and chastity.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church defines these fruits as “perfections that the Holy Spirit forms in us as the first fruits of eternal glory.” Coyle explains that “these fruits are the observable behaviors of people who allow the Lord’s grace to act within them. When we observe these fruits authentically lived out, we can perceive that the Holy Spirit is actively working around us.”
A professional educator who is also a parent of four children, with a fifth on the way, Coyle knows the challenges of cultivating a spiritually fruitful environment for young people. Ultimately, he recognizes that it cannot be achieved without God. He has been encouraged by many initiatives throughout the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend that have exhibited success educating students in Christian faith and shared, “I want to celebrate God at work in our diocese, recognizing the Lord’s work in our schools and within our families. Giving praise to Him is our highest priority!”
Coyle’s pilot episode explored benefits of the PBIS (Positive Behavior Intervention and Support) system of discipline at St. Vincent’s school. First introduced in 2015 under the direction of former principal Cheryl Klinker, PBIS incentivizes good behavior by encouraging habits of charity and kindness. Since its implementation, PBIS has been shown to foster positivity and virtue within its students at St. Vincent de Paul. Coyle aims to share that these educational practices and values can become integrated into any family’s life and bring the Holy Spirit more deeply into the home.
Another episode addressed the subject of joy, specifically in teaching Theology of the Body to grade-school students with material from the Ruah Woods Institute. By drawing out how this program teaches students about their God-given identity in the context of the modern world, Coyle presents suggestions for parents to integrate similar principles into regular family interactions and foster a deeper sense of purpose and joy in their children.
Coyle exclaimed, “How do you achieve more goodness in the world? You plan for it, you get creative, you work proactively in specific ways, and you arrange opportunities to bring people together, giving the Holy Spirit room to work. These conversations reflect the ways educators are purposefully striving to bring the Gospel to life in the midst of our schools and inviting our students to respond with an intentional gift of self.”
Throughout the course of the show, Coyle has and will continue to interview principals, teachers, coaches, parents, youth ministers, college professors, and others. Coyle emphasized, “God speaks to us through so many ways in education; we want to be able to share the goodness that is happening in our midst that others could benefit from hearing about and employ in their own lives. It is a blessing to be able to interview so many great people who work in this diocese and explore with them how a particular aspect of their ministry reveals the activity of God.”
“Spirit in the Schools” is affiliated with Spoke Street Media, whose mission is to “Amplify the voice of the Creator by fostering content that invites.” The podcast can be accessed at spokestreet.com/spirit or downloaded via most podcast apps.
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