The Ultimate Purpose: A Reflection on Catholic Education and Redemption

Jonathan Doyle Global Catholic Speaker

Welcome to the Catholic Teacher Daily podcast with Jonathan Doyle, broadcasting from beautiful Hobart, Tasmania. Join Jonathan as he explores the deeper purpose of Catholic education: not just imparting knowledge, but participating in God’s mission of redemption. Tune in for insights on virtue-based leadership and the transformative power of education.

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    Welcome Aboard

    Jonathan Doyle addresses a Catholic student leadership forum
    Jonathan Doyle addresses a Catholic student leadership forum

    Hello there, my friend Jonathan Doyle, with you once again. Welcome to the Catholic Teacher Daily podcast, coming to you live from the beautiful city of Hobart in Tasmania. I’ve said this over the last few days; if you haven’t been here, it is really worth a visit. The people are great. It reminds me a little bit of San Francisco, having spent a fair bit of time in San Francisco. Hobart’s kind of a little similar in that it’s got a cool bridge, and it all sweeps down to the water, and it’s just beautiful.

    So yesterday, if you were following my adventures, I ran from the sort of sea level up to the summit of Mount Wellington, which was just epic. We’ve got some great images and photos of that on Instagram, but I just love being here. There is a great chance today. I’m just back in the hotel after speaking to another great group of senior leaders on the topic of virtue-based leadership.

    So I have a good message for you today. Just quickly, please make sure you’ve subscribed. If you’re listening on audio, I’m actually recording this simultaneously on video. So if it seems a little bit different from the normal podcast, that is the reason, my friend. If you’re on YouTube, welcome aboard. Please make sure you’ve subscribed. There’ll be links wherever you’re hearing, listening, or watching. That’ll take you through to the website at jonathandoyle. co and Instagram: @jdoylespeaks.

    Understanding the Ultimate Purpose: A Catholic Educational Perspective

    The fundamental aim of Catholic education stems from the timeless truths of faith
    The fundamental aim of Catholic education stems from the timeless truths of faith

    All right, friends, the thought that I really want to share with you today with everybody out there involved in this beautiful adventure of Catholic education is something that happened at the end of today’s presentation. I had about 90 minutes working with senior leaders who are responsible for what these leaders are responsible for training principles across the state. We went through a whole bunch of really important material on leadership and virtues. But what struck me at the end was that I felt really prompted to remind them of what I said: that we need to be reminded of the game that we’re all really playing.

    A way to think about it is that years ago, I had a business leader talk about knowing the difference between the business that you think you’re in, and the business that you’re really in. Now stay with me on this. If it sounds a bit disjointed, I will make it relevant for you, I promise. 

    But in this business podcast, he was talking about coaching somebody who was running a restaurant, and he helped this person understand that serving food is the mechanics of a restaurant, but it’s not really the ultimate business as such. He said the real business of the restaurant is the experience business. You want to have a great restaurant. You have to realize that it’s the music, it’s the decor, and it’s the staff. Because it’s not simply that the food has to be good; the whole experience has to be good.

    So he helped this particular restaurant owner realize that the ultimate business they were in was not so much food. They weren’t in the food business; they were in the experience business. That framework can help people really push their businesses forward. So you have to know the difference between the business you think you’re in and the one you’re really in.

    Theological Insight on God's Plan of Redemption: A Guiding Light

    The divine plan of redemption guides our journey, molding the core of Catholic education
    The divine plan of redemption guides our journey, molding the core of Catholic education

    Now, what does that have to do with you, my friend, whether you’re a Catholic teacher, whether you’re a Catholic principal, whether you’re an organizational Catholic leader, or whether you’re a bishop? What I said to the people at the end of today’s presentation was that you have to realize that the ultimate game that we’re playing in Catholic education isn’t so much teaching per se, impartation of subject knowledge, yes, integral formation of the human person, helping students recognize their gifts and talents and grow in them, and yes, it’s virtue formation. But the ultimate question is, for what end? What’s the ultimate purpose of what we’re actually doing?

    I was speaking in St. Louis a while ago, and I said to the leaders there that there’s a really useful theological insight that suggests that God is actually only doing one thing in the entirety of all human history. And what God’s actually doing is the act of redemption.

    Jesus himself clearly explains why he came to earth. He said the Son of Man came to seek out and save what was lost. The whole arc of the redemption story is literally that: it’s redemption. What God is after is that he wants his kids back. I always say it that way: God wants his kids back. He wants his kids to go home to heaven.

    So I would like to offer you this kind of lens, right? Because, a bit like that restaurant owner, we can get bogged down in the mechanics of teaching, systems, and organization, and all those things have a place, and they’re important, but they also have an end that they are contributing to. The end that they are contributing to is redemption, or salvation.

    Shifting Perspectives on Educational Endeavors: Beyond Teaching Mechanics

    Discovering the core of Catholic education - It's more than just teaching, it's about shaping lives
    The core of Catholic education - It's more than just teaching, it's about shaping lives

    It doesn’t matter how brilliant our buildings are or our pedagogy is. If kids are not being helped home to the father’s house. So the purpose of Catholic education isn’t to just put Catholic lipstick on quasi-atheistic secularism. It’s not the Catholic icing on the cake of modernity. Our job is to the gospel, and it is about redemption.

    So today, at the end of this really high-level session, we’re talking about the mechanics of leadership, visionary leadership, virtue-based leadership, and ethics. I felt very prompted to say, but look, let’s remember that the reason we want to grow in our own lives, the reason we want to grow in virtue, is so that we can live our vocations more fully.

    If we live our vocations more fully as Catholic educators and Catholic leaders, we’re going to help more young people get home to heaven.

    Embracing Vocations in Catholic Education: Personal and Collective Growth

    This life, my friend, is a very brief one. They opened the prayer this morning here in Tasmania, praying for the father of a student who tragically died on the weekend. The father died tragically in the surf. It just brought it home to me how unpredictable life can be, and we don’t know how long we’ve got, and we don’t have indefinite time to think that one day we’ll work it all out.

    We got today and we need to just be reminded. I need to be reminded that you know the reason I’m here, the reason I work hard and I try to read and pray and learn is because I want to help people. I want to help you get kids home to heaven.

    The Ultimate Goal of Catholic Education: A Divine Mission

    Join us in the divine mission of Catholic education, where classrooms become gateways to redemption
    Catholic education's divine mission: transforming classrooms into gateways to redemption

    Friends, let’s be reminded of the business we think we’re in and the business we’re actually in. We think we’re in the business of education, and we are. But the ultimate game that we are really playing is the game of participating in God’s daring raid on enemy-held territory, C.S. Lewis said that. The incarnation is God’s daring raid on enemy-held territory. He wants his kids back.

    God bless you for what you’re doing every single day, and may the Holy Spirit convict our hearts that this is the work we’re doing—redemption, participating—God does it, but we are his agents; he uses us in this great drama of history and salvation that looks like a classroom, but it’s a much bigger game.

    Please make sure you’re subscribed if you like listening to this or hearing this content. I’d love it if you could share it with people if you’d like me to come and speak at your school. In your diocese, working with principals, teachers, and students, I do it all, so it’s all on the website at You can book a time to speak to me. If you’re on Instagram, you can find me at @jdoylespeaks, but I’d love it if you could subscribe and share this with people.

    My name is Jonathan Doyle, this has been the Catholic Teacher Daily Audio Video Message, and you and I are going to talk again tomorrow.

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    Jonathan Doyle


    I’m on a mission to liberate the potential of the incredible people that make up your organisation, school, or business.

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