A Culture of Caring and Openness

Gonzaga Middle School is the second Jesuit endorsed Nativity model middle school in Canada. In keeping with Jesuit schools across the world, paying attention to the individual within our specific cultural context – focusing on the needs and gifts, challenges and skills, hopes and dreams of each person – will be at the center of the school culture at GMS. This notion of “cura personalis” – care and concern for the whole person – is a fundamental hallmark of Jesuit education and the foundation for learning and exploration of spirituality. It is also the foundation for teaching and learning in the Ignatian Pedagogical tradition at it prepares GMS’ students for success in school and life. In a person-centred school culture GMS puts attention on developing enduring spiritual values (in keeping with the student's cultural tradition) and high personal and academic standards for our students.


Holistic, Inclusive, Culturally Sensitive Ignatian Spirituality

At GMS, concern for the spiritual development of our students is seen as part of providing a holistic education which also attends to students’ academic preparation, physical health and general wellness, and development of social skills. GMS has adopted key elements of a Jesuit school’s mission by seeking “to develop men and women for others” and striving develop the “5+1 key characteristics of a graduate” of a Jesuit school as discussed below. A Jesuit school incorporates Ignatian spirituality which “seeks to find God in all things” and calls us to live according to a faith or spirituality that does justice in the service of others – to seek to become “men and women for others.” This is an intentionally inclusive Catholic approach to spirituality which will incorporate some spirituality and prayers from other traditions. We encourage students to respect their own faith or spiritual traditions be they Catholic, Christian, non-Christian or Indigenous traditions. This is consistent with the GMS Vision to “support our students of all cultural and faith backgrounds becoming hopeful, confident, morally responsible leaders for love and service of their families and communities.”


Prayerful Reflection on Daily Experience and Consideration on the “5 + 1 Characteristics of a Jesuit School Graduate”

In practice, each day we begin with a prayer, which frequently includes an adaptation of the Ignatian Examen, (a form of prayerful reflection on the day) and other prayer and liturgical forms. We also incorporate the GMS Student Pledge which is recited by staff and students. The pledge starts with “I pledge this day, with integrity and humility, my continued support for the spirit of Gonzaga...” Our classrooms also display the 5 key characteristics of Jesuit education which are incorporated into curricula, art and our report cards so that students, teachers and parents can see and discuss how students understand them in practice.

In this process students will be asked to self-report on how they are striving to become people “who are loving, intellectually competent, open to growth, spiritually alive, committed to doing justice and committed to being healthy (a GMS addition to the traditional five characteristics):

  • Loving:How they care for themselves and others and believe they are capable of giving and receiving love
  • Intellectually Competent:How they strive for excellence in school and become better learners
  • Open to Growth:How they are willing to try new things and be open to new ideas.
  • Spiritually Alive:How they understand their place in creation and the role of God or the Creator in their lives
  • Committed to Justice: How they are willing to stand up for what is right, recognize injustice and work towards building a better world as men or women for others
  • Committed to Being Healthy:How they try to eat healthy foods, exercise and find balance in their lives.

For more information on the Jesuits and Ignatian Spirituality please visit: www.jesuits.ca