Nativity: Faith & Reason emphasizes religion as ‘the fabric of life’

Moira Cullings

When Nativity Catholic School in Broomfield changed its name to Nativity: Faith & Reason, some parishioners were concerned it meant a backing away from the Catholicity of the school.

Father Michael Carvill, the parish’s pastor, assured them the opposite was true.

“The title ‘Faith & Reason’ comes from the encyclical letter of John Paul II Fides et Ratio,” said Father Carvill. “It’s something that St. John Paul II saw as a vital part of the way the faith has to present itself in the world.”

Father Carvill hopes the name change will help the students realize something very special.

“The kids need to learn not that religion is something you do at certain moments, but they need to learn that it’s in the very fabric of life,” he said.

“The Catholicity of the school has to be in the DNA of every moment.”

Two pillars inspire ‘dynamic place of dialogue’

Nativity: Faith & Reason has big dreams for students who pass through its doors.

“We’re hoping that slowly, the classroom becomes a more dynamic place of dialogue,” said principal Holly Peterson. “It can’t take place in a traditional education where I speak, you write, you learn, and you test.”

This is Peterson’s first year as active principal, and she brings with her an expansive background in education. Her hope is that Nativity will be a place where children are encouraged to ask questions, so they don’t simply learn about the faith and the subjects they study, but they actually own and carry them throughout their lives.

Holly Peterson is the new principal at Nativity: Faith and Reason. (Photo by Moira Cullings)

Peterson is joined by seven new teachers and an all-new office staff. But the foundation laid by Kathy Shadel, who served at the school for 44 years as a teacher and eventually the principal, has helped the school transition smoothly into these changes, said Peterson.

The desire to focus on faith and reason came out of the archdiocesan symposium on education held a few years ago that encouraged school leaders to implement a value proposition, said Father Carvill.

Rather than choose a classical or STEM approach, Nativity wanted to offer something different.

The Catholicity of the school has to be in the DNA of every moment.”

“We want to give [the students] a critical ability to question, verify and discover the truth for themselves of the proposals that we make to them,” he said.

“It’s only verified conviction that will carry the kids in a world in which everything is saying the opposite to the faith.”

The school also wanted to fulfill needs families have today. Two important new offerings are before and after school care and a preschool, which were both created to alleviate families particularly where both parents work.

Nativity: Faith & Reason has a new preschool, as well as before and after school care, to better accommodate its families.

“In the 21st century, you’re speaking to a different audience than when I began teaching 30 plus years ago,” said Peterson. “We saw [those features] as necessary to meet the needs of our new families coming in.”

The school is also accommodating students with a new look both outside and inside the building — fresh paint, logos and modern updates — that serve to create a sleek, welcoming environment.

Katie Mikesell, Nativity’s Director of Marketing, is most excited about those updates, which she hopes will inspire the students to strive for excellence.

“It looks bright, and I’m excited to get kids in here and have that energy fill the hallways,” she said.

Mikesell hopes Nativity will continue to be a home away from home for its students.

“It should feel that inviting,” she said. “I’m really looking forward to getting them in here and showing off all the changes that have been made to make their educational experience better.”

Nativity: Faith & Reason has a new preschool and overall look. Faculty and staff hope the fresh paint and accommodating updates will make students feel right at home.

Aside from the positive environment, Peterson wants the students to feel cared for in an even more important way.

“We don’t want the kids to be measured here according to what they’re able to do,” she said. “You’re measured by the one who made you. You are a piece of the glory of God; you’re a masterpiece of the glory of God, as John Paul would say.

It looks bright, and I’m excited to get kids in here and have that energy fill the hallways.”

“So, how can we help kids grow and learn in an environment where they feel safe, they feel loved, and they learn the skills they’re going to need for their lives?”

Those are challenges Nativity: Faith & Reason hopes to meet head on in the next few years as new changes and features are implemented.

Father Carvill hopes for a smooth transition so the school “can really roll up our sleeves and begin to do the work of bringing this faith and reason into the very core of everything that we’re doing.”

COMING UP: Preparing your Home and Heart for the Advent Season

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The Advent season is a time of preparation for our hearts and minds for the Lord’s birth on Christmas.  It extends over the four Sundays before Christmas.  Try some of these Ideas to celebrate Advent in your home by decorating, cooking, singing, and reading your way to Christmas. Some of the best ideas are the simplest.

Special thanks to Patty Lunder for putting this together!

Advent Crafts

Handprint Advent Wreath for Children 
Bring the meaning of Advent into your home by having your kids make this fun and easy Advent wreath.

Materials
Pink and purple construction paper
– Yellow tissue or construction paper (to make a flame)
– One piece of red construction paper cut into 15 small circles
– Scissors
– Glue
– Two colors of green construction paper
– One paper plate
– 2 empty paper towel tubes

1. Take the two shades of green construction paper and cut out several of your child’s (Children’s) handprints. Glue the handprints to the rim of a paper plate with the center cut out.

2. Roll one of the paper towels tubes in purple construction paper and glue in place.

3. Take the second paper towel and roll half in pink construction paper and half in purple construction and glue in place.

4. Cut the covered paper towel tubes in half.

5. Cut 15 small circles from the red construction paper. Take three circles and glue two next to each other and a third below to make berries. Do this next to each candle until all circles are used.

6. Cut 4 rain drop shapes (to make a flame) from the yellow construction paper. Each week glue the yellow construction paper to the candle to make a flame. On the first week light the purple candle, the second week light the second purple candle, the third week light the pink candle and on the fourth week light the final purple candle.

A Meal to Share during the Advent Season

Slow-Cooker Barley & Bean Soup 

Make Sunday dinner during Advent into a special family gathering with a simple, easy dinner. Growing up in a large family, we knew everyone would be together for a family dinner after Mass on Sunday. Let the smells and aromas of a slow stress-free dinner fill your house and heart during the Advent Season. Choose a member of the family to lead grace and enjoy an evening together. This is the perfect setting to light the candles on your Advent wreath and invite all to join in a special prayer for that week.

Ingredients:
– 1 cup dried multi-bean mix or Great Northern beans, picked over and rinsed
– 1/2 cup pearl barley (Instant works great, I cook separate and add at end when soup is done)
– 3 cloves garlic, smashed
– 2 medium carrots, roughly chopped
– 2 ribs celery, roughly chopped
– 1/2 medium onion, roughly chopped
– 1 bay leaf
– Salt to taste
– 2 teaspoons dried Italian herb blend (basil, oregano)
– Freshly ground black pepper
– One 14-ounce can whole tomatoes, with juice
– 3 cups cleaned baby spinach leaves (about 3 ounces)
– 1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese, extra for garnish

1. Put 6 cups water, the beans, barley, garlic, carrots, celery, onions, bay leaf, 1 tablespoons salt, herb blend, some pepper in a slow cooker. Squeeze the tomatoes through your hands over the pot to break them down and add their juices. Cover and cook on high until the beans are quite tender and the soup is thick, about 8 hours. 

2. Add the spinach and cheese, and stir until the spinach wilts, about 5 minutes. Remove the bay leaf and season with salt and pepper. 

3. Ladle the soup into warmed bowls and serve with a baguette.