St. Stephen's and St. Agnes School Blog

What Is the Value Of An Episcopal School?

Posted by The Reverend Sean Cavanaugh on Oct 23, 2018 2:43:58 PM
The Reverend Sean Cavanaugh

Did you miss our Upper School Parent Information Night? Relive the voice of one of the presenters, Father Sean Cavanaugh, as he extols the Value of an Episcopal Education. 


When I came to St. Stephen's and St. Agnes I honestly thought I would be here for a few years and then return to a parish. Now, 15 years later, it has become apparent to me that my plans do not always mesh with the plans of God. This past Friday a colleague reminded me of the words from the author Frederick Buechner (Buechner also served as a Religion teacher at Exeter Academy), who wrote that we are going to be most happy when we find that place in life where our gifts and strengths match some great need of the world around us. In other words, we find our calling, Buechner wrote, when we use the gifts we have been given to serve others.

Rev. Sean CavanaughI think there is a great deal of truth in what Buechner has to say. I also believe that is what makes our school different: we honestly want our students to embrace this philosophy - the philosophy of service to others. That within this community we believe we have a higher calling; a calling for our students to use their own gifts to change the world for the better and to understand that they have inherent value in their lives as do the people they encounter on a daily basis. And in the midst of so much confusion in our culture, we say to our students “Not only do you matter, but you have value and meaning as well.”  

In short, we say to our students that as God’s children, your life is by no means a random or accidental occurrence in the universe. As children of God, you are called to use the life you have been given to serve and contribute to the common good. Is this a bold statement to make and proclaim? Yes it is, but it’s one that we honestly and authentically challenge ourselves to abide by within this community.  

Blessing of AnimalsOne of my favorite writers is the twentieth-century poet and playwright TS Eliot. Eliot is best known for his poems the Wasteland and the Hollow Man. Both of these works deal with a generation looking for meaning and vision in a world that can be confusing and unforgiving. Elliot, who was a person of faith, believed that the remedy for feeling lost and confused in the world was found in those communities that had the real capacity to love and care for each other.  

In his play The Rock, Eliot says that communities must be prepared to explain who they are not to those who are already initiated but rather to the stranger who knows nothing about the community. To this end, Eliot penned, “Oh my soul, be prepared for the coming of the Stranger. Be prepared for him who knows how to ask questions.” Be prepared, Eliot ponders, for the stranger to ask if this a place of love and service or a place where value is measured only in what can be produced or measured. The real value of our school community is this: that I believe when the stranger finds us, they will discover a school that is firmly entrenched in a Yes culture. Yes we believe we are called to be good to one another. Yes we believe that each of our students has meaning and purpose in their life. Yes we believe and want our students to make a difference in the world and Yes you are loved here. This to me is what it means to be an Episcopal school. 

This to me is what it means to be a Saint at SSSAS. 

Topics: St. Stephens and St. Agnes, School search, become ready, choosing a school, Spiritual Life, Goodness as Well as Knowledge

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