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