Last week at Mass, my family and I had the blessing of witnessing a baptism. The priest invited all children from the congregation to join him and the family around the baptismal font. Surprisingly, both Elizabeth and Catherine went for an up-close view. Luckily, this experience prompted a great catechetical opportunity throughout the course of the day - what is baptism, why did the priest pour water over the baby's head, can I look at my baptism pictures, can I wear my baptism gown, why can't we have our baby dolls wear our baptismal gowns all the time? Furthermore, it seemed to be an evangelical experience as well - both girls acted out baptisms of their own that day.
You know you must be the principal of a Catholic school when your daughters incorporate elements of our faith into their creative play. What an immense blessing this was for me and Emily - we can see the roots of the gift of faith we are working so hard to give to our children.
More importantly, we can see that God has truly claimed them as His own.
They, through their baptisms and lives of faith, have been branded as God's. They bear His mark. It is my hope and prayer that Emily and I and our Church community may be able to make this brand even more indelible as they age.
The week after Easter I had the privilege of representing Incarnation Catholic School and the Diocese of St. Petersburg at the National Catholic Education Association Conference in Orlando. Two of the sessions I attended dealt with branding, something I believe our school desperately needs. I learned the difference between a brand and a logo / trademark. A logo or trademark is often just a symbol of the company or organization or, quite simply, its name. A brand, though, is the visual, emotional, rational and cultural image that you associate with a company or a product. While a logo or trademark supplies easy recognition of a company or "brand", a brand pulls on the heart strings of its consumers, instilling loyalty and even allegiance with the overall experience of the product.
As Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks, attests, "The most powerful and enduring brands are built from the heart - if people believe they share values with a company, they will stay loyal to a brand."
As Catholic Schools, our brand is that we promise eternal significance. We work on the souls. We form students spiritually. We build future citizens of heaven. We educate and catechize and evangelize and socialize and emotionalize and exercise.
You can't get this at your local public or charter or private school - only Catholic Schools are offering the Eucharist as the source and summit of its educational program.
Our brand, in order to be successful, must show that God has branded us, indelibly, as His. Consistency with our fonts and methods of communication and use of colors and logos is important. Paramount, however, is that we bear the mark of God in all that we do.
Be blessed. Be bold. Fight for JOY!