Christian leaders, especially those within the Church, all have something in common.
They are servants and stewards.
“It is important, now more than ever, for leaders to be servant-leaders, who lead with conviction, strength of character, and by action, not mere commands or directives,” Bishop W. Shawn McKnight told the community of Sacred Heart School in Sedalia.
Bishop McKnight on Sept. 4 visited and presided at an all-school Mass for the diocese’s only Catholic school educating students in kindergarten through high school.
In his homily, the bishop emphasized that no one believes a teacher or a leader unless he or she can be seen acting in accord with their professed beliefs and values.
“Leadership requires a certain authenticity to be effective,” he noted. “All of us are called to this kind of servant-leadership, to practice what we preach — whether we are a simple disciple or the bishop of Rome.”
The more authentically Christians put their faith into practice in everyday life, the more other people can recognize Christ’s presence in the world.
That recognition stirs a desire to share in the beliefs, practices and sacraments given by Christ through His Church.
Bishop McKnight pointed out that Sacred Heart School is “a school of discipleship and an institute for training in leadership, a place in which teachers not only teach their students with words but also with action.”
He explained that in the Catholic faith, stewards are disciples who recognize and receive gifts that God has given them, and who respond with gratitude by sharing their gifts in love with God and neighbor.
“Sacred Heart School is where students learn about the gifts and talents God has given them, and where these gifts are nurtured, developed and matured so that students can discern how they can use their talents in service of God and neighbor,” the bishop said.
He added that a good leader in such a school looks for and empowers other leaders, understanding how to search out the skill sets and talents that are available in the community and facilitating their use in accomplishing the mission.
During his visit, the bishop ceremonially invested Dr. Mark Register with a presidential medal commissioned by the bishop for Sacred Heart School.
Dr. Register, the school’s longtime principal, was appointed president earlier this year as part of a reconfiguration of the school’s administrative structure.
“Dr. Register, thank you for your proven leadership as president of Sacred Heart School of St. Vincent de Paul Parish,” Bishop McKnight told him. “I pray and trust that you will engage a broader number of people to participate in the mission of the school by practicing what you preach, being a servant-leader and steward in faith.”
Also at the end of Mass, Dr. Erin Vader, diocesan superintendent of Catholic schools, installed Abby Martin as principal, presenting her a Rosary and a pen.
“We are honored and happy to have Dr. Register as our president and Mrs. Martin as our principal,” stated Father Joseph Corel, one of two priests serving as pastor in solidum of St. Vincent de Paul Parish, of which Sacred Heart School is a part.
“With a three-person administrative team including Sam Jones as our dean of students, we have the right team in place to grow our school and move it in a direction that keeps it thriving for years to come, God willing!” he said.
After Mass, Bishop McKnight attended a breakfast reception with benefactors and recipients of scholarships for the school.
He then toured the school complex and blessed each hallway and classroom with holy water.
Fr. Corel thanked the bishop on behalf of the entire parish.
“It’s always good when the chief shepherd of the diocese can be present with the people,” said Fr. Corel. “It was very much appreciated that Bishop McKnight was here to recognize Dr. Register as our president and to bless our school as we begin our new year in this time of pandemic.
“It was kind of Dr. Vader to join Bishop McKnight and recognize Mrs. Martin as our new principal and give her a nice gift,” the priest added.