One of my family's favorite movies is The Greatest Showman. My kids know the lyrics to the songs and they love mimicking the dance moves. Couple this entertainment with the stories of inclusion, reconciliation, purpose, love, and redemption, and this fictional retelling of the inception of P.T. Barnum's circus has a special place in the Zelenka household.
Hugh Jackman depicts Barnum as a visionary, seeing a world in his mind and heart that he dreams of bringing into the world. Barnum's vision drives the action of the movie and we see it fuel the circus's establishment, rise, demise, and eventual re-imagination.
Vision plays a key role in the movie's soundtrack. We hear Barnum sing the following lines as both a child and adult in "A Million Dreams":
'Cause every night I lie in bed / The brightest colors fill my head / A million dreams are keeping me awake / I think of what the world could be / A vision of the one I see / A million dreams is all it's gonna take / Oh a million dreams for the world we're gonna make. (Pasek & Paul, 2017)
As he takes steps to bring this vision to life, Barnum sings these words in "Come Alive":
When the world becomes a fantasy / And you're more than you could ever be / 'Cause you're dreaming with your eyes wide open / And you know you can't go back again / To the world that you were living in / 'Cause you're dreaming with your eyes wide open / So, come alive! (Pasek & Paul, 2017)
I believe these two song lyrics, when considered jointly, offer good insights into what vision is and how it can impact our Catholic schools. First, the dreams of our hearts and minds, those inspirations that fill us with energy and life, supply our vision with both wings and wind. Second, as we take steps to bring this vision to life and start to fly, we begin to see the world from another perspective. In many ways, once our vision has taken off, we can't and don't want to go back to seeing the world as we did before.
Being a graduate of Remick, a former executive coach, and a current member of its faculty, I believe that the Mary Ann Remick Leadership Program awakens within its members a vision for Catholic education that we cannot and do not want to unsee.
From a programmatic standpoint, I believe that the following line tucked in between two headings on page seven of the Program's Handbook reveals its vision:
The goal of the Mary Ann Remick Leadership Program is to provide a Catholic education of the highest quality to as many students as possible.
Granted, the sentence uses the word "goal" instead of "vision." Yet, when we consider what the world will look like when we accomplish our shared purpose to prepare transformational Catholic school leaders who make God known, loved, and served, I believe we can envision a world where Catholic schools are sustained, strengthened, and transformed.
As a result, Catholic schools will offer an education of the highest quality. With a focus on evangelization, academic excellence, and integral and holistic formation, Catholic schools will foster the "gradual development of every capability of every student" (Congregation for Catholic Education, 1988, #99) and in doing so bring people to fullness of life in Jesus Christ.
Additionally, Catholic schools will be accessible to as many students as possible. Structures and systems that increase access to our Catholic schools will be created, support mechanisms to ensure that all students can and will learn will be designed, and students will become "the new creatures they were made through baptism" (Second Vatican Council, 1965, #8).
Furthermore, Remick leaders will construct Catholic schools that embrace both charity and justice, forming "men and women who will be ready to take their place in society, preparing them in such a way that they will make the kind of social commitment which will enable them to work for the improvement of social structures, making these structures more conformed to the principles of the Gospel" (Sacred Congregation for Catholic Education, 1982, #19).
Put another way, Catholic schools led by Remick Leaders will establish the Kingdom of God on earth as it is in heaven.
This is the vision of a Remick Leader.
You can't unsee it, can you?
What's more, is that you don't want to, right?
Together, as we dream with our eyes wide open, let us make this vision - our vision - come alive!
Congregation for Catholic Education. (1988, April 7). The Religious Dimension of Education in a Catholic School: Guidelines for Reflection and Renewal. Retrieved from: https://bit.ly/2NKgCyL
Pasek, B. & Paul, J. (2017). Come Alive [Recorded by Hugh Jackman, Keala Settle, Daniel Everidge, Zendaya & The GreatestShowman Ensemble]. The Greatest Showman (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) [CD]. New York: Atlantic Records.
Pasek, B. & Paul, J. (2017). A Million Dreams [Recorded by Ziv Zaifman, Hugh Jackman, Michelle Williams, & Skylar Dunn]. The Greatest Showman (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) [CD]. New York: Atlantic Records.
Sacred Congregation for Catholic Education. (1982, October 15). Lay Catholics in Schools: Witnesses to faith. Retrieved from: https://bit.ly/3krL1xR
Second Vatican Council. (1965, October 28). Gravissimum Educationis. Retrieved from: https://bit.ly/3ssMA18