“We Believe!” — new video shares 15 core belief statements of Catholic schools

Students at St. Mark School in Peoria get excited as they proclaim “We believe!” at the end of the video from the Office of Catholic Schools. The new video will premiere just before Catholic Schools Week begins. (Photo courtesy of Daryl Wilson Photography)

Knowing how to do something is important. Knowing why you’re doing it is even better.

That was the thought behind “We Believe,” a new video (below) from the Office of Catholic Schools that will be released as Catholic Schools Week begins this Sunday. Dr. Sharon Weiss, superintendent of diocesan schools, said it has been “a labor of love.”

Dr. Sharon Weiss

“I have been very much a proponent of not only knowing how and what we teach, but also why we are doing what we’re doing,” she told The Catholic Post.

Noting that the pandemic has brought about unprecedented change, Weiss said we must cling to belief in times like these.

“We know that beliefs are the heart of every community,” she said in her introduction to the video. She added that this is nothing new to Catholics, who declare what they believe as a church every time they pray the Nicene Creed at Mass.

“And so we thought it was very important, the Office of Catholic Schools, to write down some belief statements. These belief statements hold true no matter what happens around us,” she said.


The idea for the video came from conversations Weiss was having with the Catholic high school principals and chaplains and Coadjutor Bishop Louis Tylka during a series of meetings last school year, as well as her son, David. The director of strategy and culture at Sherman’s, he had done a project on core beliefs for the company and it intrigued her.

“I took those film clips and showed them to the high school principals,” Weiss said. “We wanted them to go back into their schools and define their own belief statements and core beliefs.”

At the same time, she developed a list of 20 core beliefs that David helped her refine. The result is 15 short, powerful statements about what “We Believe” as Catholic schools. They include:

  • We believe parents are the primary educators of their children.
  • We believe we are blessed to support them in that pursuit.
  • We believe prayer and the resulting relationship with Jesus is foundational to our education.
  • We believe our mission is to form disciples of Christ.
  • We believe in loving our students in the ways that Christ taught us.
  • We believe in the importance of teaching community and serving the common good.
  • We believe in the arts and the beauty that comes from using them to praise God.
  • We believe students can only thrive when they feel safe.
  • And Catholic schools provide a safe and loving environment.
  • We believe our faith allows us to persevere in times of crisis.
  • We believe in teaching Sacramental Awareness and this helps our students recognize that God’s love and grace surrounds them.
  • We believe our students are the “greatest work of the Church”.
  • We believe we are created in the image of God.
  • So we believe every human life is sacred.
  • And we believe we’re obligated to teach this to our students.

When she previewed the statements for the principals at their fall retreat in September, “you could hear a pin drop.”

“If you’re a Catholic educator, they really get hold of you emotionally and spiritually,” Weiss said. “It’s what we do. I think these are the things that pretty much drive our commitment and our faith.”


Bringing the project to life was freelance photojournalist Daryl Wilson of Dunlap. He filmed students, teachers, principals, and clergy from Corpus Christi in Bloomington; The High School of Saint Thomas More, Holy Cross and St. Matthew, all in Champaign; Schlarman Academy, Danville; Visitation, Kewanee; St. Paul, Macomb; Immaculate Conception, Monmouth; Holy Family, Oglesby; Notre Dame High School, Holy Family and St. Jude, all in Peoria; and St. Patrick, Washington.

Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC, who has always said parents are the primary educators of their children, is featured saying that as the first “We believe” statement. Bishop Tylka offers the last statement, which sums everything up.

“We knew we could not have every school (in the video) because there’s only 15 belief statements. We told the principals that if we do not come into their schools, that is not a pronouncement on them,” Weiss said.

“We were looking for diversity, we were looking for various areas of the diocese,” she explained. “We wanted to make it a representation.”

Wilson said it was “a real treat” to travel across the Diocese of Peoria and visit the schools as he collected footage for the video.

“I’ve always been a supporter of our diocese and Catholic education, specifically since my own parish, St. Jude, opened a school when we first moved here,” he told The Post, noting that was 11 years ago. “So I was able to see firsthand what a Catholic education can do not only for an individual, but for a parish.”

He said he was impressed by the dedication of the people in each location and how accommodating they were.

“I’ve done work like this all my life and never really have I ever had so many people who were so willing to share about Catholic schools and to cooperate in the project,” he said.

EDITOR’S NOTE: For a schedule of Catholic Schools Week activities around the Diocese of Peoria, click here.

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