Mount de Sales AcademyWhat is a Catholic Identity? As with many things, we know it when we see it. The entire faculty in all the disciplines at Mount de Sales share the Catholic Faith, which creates a Christian Community. I spoke with several students about what brought them to the school, and all of them, independently of each other, noted the family atmosphere, and Christ who is at the center of it.

Love, sharing, caring—this is the extent of virtue education in many schools. Sister Anne Catherine notes that students can see through the emotionalism of a faith that's not grounded in reasoned principles. They know it's wrong to hit, but it's wrong to hit in the public schools as well. A Catholic school can go the extra step and explain why it's wrong, why a life of virtue is preferable, with clearly and unapologetically stated Gospel truth; and this is where studying the Doctors of the Church comes in. It also provides the Sacramental tools that make living a virtuous life possible.

"Our students are receiving the education we would have loved to have, and hopefully they graduate with an awareness of the responsibility that it entails. They are equipped to go out and be leaven in the world."

There will always be other schools with more money for computers and state of the art facilities, but it is a privilege for a school to call itself Catholic. Once a school has a handle on its Catholic Identity, then it can really soar academically. People want that difference that maybe they haven't been able to articulate for themselves, but when they see it, they know it's the real deal.

The Nashville Dominican Sisters have gained a national reputation for helping to facilitate this Catholic Identity wherever the sisters go. Many parents and administrators are wondering, how can we get the Nashville Dominicans to come into our schools and transform them? The Sisters shine a light on the potentialities of Catholic education, but they also point a way for the laity. Christ is the one who transforms us. If he is integral to our lives, he will be integral to our schools. Holiness, not hot air.