* Have students participate in various learning experiences and activities which seek to encourage ongoing development of their spirituality and a deeper understanding of their relationship with God in the context of the Roman Catholic tradition
* Have students demonstrate an understanding of an ethical approach to the world based upon the message of Jesus and the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church
* Offer opportunities to discover their God given gifts and personal values through service, classroom discussion and the retreat program
Meet the Department:
Mr. Mike O’Toole—Academic Dean, Theology Department Chair – joined faculty in 1988 – teaches AP US History, Christian Lifestyle and Scripture
Ms. Marie Rodnick -joined faculty in 2002 – teaches Sacred Scriptures, Advanced Catholicism I, Advanced Catholicism II and Leadership
Mrs. Teri Scott – joined faculty in 2007 – teaches Church History, Sacraments, Peace and Justice and Morality
Mr. Tom Woodhead – joined faculty in 2013 – teaches Peace and Justice and Speech & Debate
How will the Catholic student’s religious foundation be enhanced?
Ideally, this is an environment that will be supportive of those moral and religious values that have been introduced and nurtured at home. The student will be provided with a four-year curriculum that allows for deeper exploration and understanding of Catholic Christianity. Your student will have the opportunity to share and engage with his/her faith in an authentic classroom setting. There will be opportunities for all to serve, explore and discuss their growing faith. Faith formation happens on every corner of this campus and there will always be opportunities for your student to engage his/her faith through Mass, prayer services, retreats, classroom discussions, retreat leadership and campus ministry.
What are the retreat experiences provided at SV?
SV provides mandatory one-day retreats for freshman, sophomore and junior classes. Senior year culminates with an overnight retreat. The SV retreat experience is aimed at providing a place for our students to share their faith, journey and friendships in a God-centered environment. The activities renew the values of the SVHS community and strive to connect the students with their classmates.
These retreats complement the mission statement of the school. We strive to build community throughout high school and facilitate connectedness. On that journey students have the opportunity to talk, listen and bond on a deeper level with classmates and teachers. Class level retreats give students the opportunity to grow their relationships with classmates through Mass, small groups, Reconciliation and time to reflect on their journey at SVHS. Accompanying the students on their journey is the presence of God. Our retreats strive to illuminate these interdependent relationships. Each class-level retreat is centered around a theme that is meant to engage students where they are with their classmates and with God.
How often will my child have the opportunity to experience the Sacraments?
The Sacraments are woven into the way of life for a student at SVHS. Communion is offered at least five times per year to the entire student body at school masses. We celebrate these masses both at our school and at our Parish Church. Students have the opportunity to break bread with the entire community and see the Sacrament of Holy Communion come to life authentically. Reconciliation is offered during religion classes and during the season of Lent, as well as during the Junior and Senior retreats. The discussion of all of our Holy Sacraments happens during Freshman and Sophomore Theology.
My child is not Catholic. Will his/her religious beliefs be accommodated?
All faiths are respected and welcomed here. Our hope is that an incoming Catholic student will become a stronger Catholic from his/her experience here and that a non-Catholic will be stronger in his/her faith as a result of that same experience. Theology classes are an avenue for the students to learn about themselves, their values, morals and the Catholic faith. Theology class curricula are created with the variety of students in mind, not just the Catholic learner. We offer both an advanced Catholic curriculum (ACC) and grade-appropriate theology courses. Ultimately, the students’ life experiences are part of the curriculum and this helps concretize relevance and the discussion of Jesus Christ’s ministry. Ultimately, each student is asked to consider his/her moral compass, values and journey on this earth.
My child and my family have no religious affiliation. Why should they take religion classes?
“What is the nature and purpose of our existence?” is a philosophical question as well as the essence of a religious understanding. Our belief is that all people who are in pursuit of education and truth have to consider this fundamental existential question. Basically, what is the meaning of life? A deeper understanding of the world’s mysteries can be found and discussed in religion class. Theology class is a place for introspection and the growing and building of our SVHS community. Additionally, answers to challenges in our world can be explored. It has proved to be a respite for many students at an age when their lives are expanding exponentially.
This is a college preparatory school. How does the theology curriculum have a place within that context?
SVHS educates the whole student and the theology courses are an example of this. Theology courses cover the correct way to live our lives, address student life issues, and prepare the student for life away from high school and home. “What do you do when no one is looking?” The religion classes will provide a foundation for that post high school question. Additionally, Peace and Justice, a one-semester junior level religion class, is not only a course in which ethical responses to current world issues are explored, it is also approved as a social studies course by the University of California and is on our school’s a-g list.
Does the Theology department go over Mass procedures with students who are not Catholic?
All religion courses go over the entire Mass procedure from beginning to end, as well as discuss the importance and background of each portion of the Mass. Mass is a class- and school-bonding experience. It is a celebratory day on campus. From the liturgy dress of the students, the student body walk to church, to the bagels and hot chocolate that we share after Mass, it is always a special day.