Social Justice

“If you want peace, work for justice.” – Pope Paul VI

Holy Family Catholic Schools Equity Statement

Holy Family Catholic Schools is committed to providing all students and staff with a safe educational and working environment and a welcoming culture supportive of intellectual and spiritual growth.

Our Catholic faith embraces each individual as a gift from God, worthy of love and respect. Therefore, we affirm the rights of all students, staff and guests of our community to be treated with respect and protected from bullying actions of any kind. Such actions include discrimination, intimidation, physical harm or harassment, or interfering with academic performance, community participation or wellbeing.

In alignment with Catholic Church teachings, Holy Family believes all members of our school community are responsible for advancing an understanding of and respect for diversity as it includes, but is not limited to ability, age, belief, ethnicity, family structure, sex, race, religion, sexual orientation, and socioeconomic status. Therefore, Golden Eagles will hold one another accountable to behavior worthy of our Catholic environment.

Our Commitments

  • In all Social Justice work, Holy Family will keep Catholic Social Teachings at the core of our focus.
  • Holy Family will enact professional development for existing faculty and staff to support a greater acceptance and understanding of diversity and inclusion.
  • Through real-world educational opportunities and authentic curriculum, students will more fully understand human rights, civil rights and the history, stories, and experiences of diverse communities.
  • We will strive to enhance the diversity of our student body through purpose-driven student recruitment efforts.
  • Holy Family schools will welcome and support students and families of all backgrounds with love and respect.
  • We will strive to enhance diversity among faculty and staff through purpose-driven employee recruitment while supporting the professional growth of those who aspire to leadership.

Ongoing Education Initiatives

Training and Professional Development for Faculty, Staff and Leadership:

Holy Family Catholic Schools Faculty and Staff

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People are based on principles of effectiveness for people of all ages. The 7 Habits can support us as we strengthen our school community to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). Learn how to build a more inclusive and equitable class and school culture through the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. 

Teaching Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion through the 7 Habits outline

Board of Education and Holy Family Leadership
February 2022

School leaders have studied this pastoral letter as a guiding resource in diversity, equity and inclusion efforts.

Open Wide Our Hearts, the enduring call to love

Wahlert Catholic High School
Facilitated by HACAP Dubuque in partnership with Sisters of the Presentation, Sisters of Charity and Sisters of St. Francis
August 2021

HACAP Dubuque provided curriculum and hosted a poverty simulation to support the school’s 2021-2022 focus on socio-economic issues. The demographic representation at Wahlert Catholic poses the strongest element of diversity among our students, leading to important questions about how can we ensure all students have access to all that we offer, curricularly and extracurricularly? 

During the training, staff members were assigned an identity and a "family" or "single” status and positioned in a space in the gymnasium that represented their dwelling. Around the perimeter of the gym there were tables that represented the food pantry, medical clinic, bus station, courthouse, childcare, employment services, homeless shelter, jail, pawnshop, etc. Women religious and Loras College social work students staffed stations supported by materials to provide context on each role within the experience.

Wahlert Catholic High School
Facilitated by Brenna Cussen Anglada from St. Isadore Catholic Worker Farm
June 2021

Faculty and staff attended a presentation on diversity and equity in an effort to reflect and move toward more inclusive classroom spaces in our building. Cussen Anglada’s presentation included data gathered from our Holy Family DEI survey, taking staff through materials that explain and contextualize racial microaggressions to support reflection on current practices in their classrooms and a commitment to cultivating inclusive spaces. 

Wahlert Catholic High School
Facilitated by Associate Principal Mariah Reeves
August 2020

A cultural competency professional development session was offered as a whole-staff in-service training at Wahlert Catholic at the beginning of 2020-2021 school year. To begin the conversation on implicit bias, faculty and staff viewed a TED Talk given by Dushaw Hockett, founder and Executive Director of Safe Places for the Advancement of Community and Equity (SPACEs). Faculty and staff members completed an inventory of their reactions to various scenarios that could take place in a school setting. Staff engaged in an open and powerful discussion, in which many reflected on their experiences in the classroom and times when they could have approached a situation differently. The curriculum for this reflective activity was provided through Learning for Justice (formerly known as Teaching Tolerance). The session was concluded by leading teachers through Social Justice Standards for grades 9-12 through the lens of Catholic Social Teachings. Teachers were asked to form a personal goal based on the standards, and continued to revisit established goals in ongoing professional development throughout the academic year.

Student-Focussed Educational Initiatives:

Holy Family is proud to introduce Leader in Me, which will be implemented system-wide in the 22-23 school year.

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is one of the key frameworks of the Leader in Me process. In addition to helping students learn and apply leadership skills, the 7 Habits give us a common language in building a supportive emotional environment.

The introduction has begun with in-depth professional development for staff this summer and fall and will continue to be implemented with students in the spring semester.

Holy Family approaches the 7 Habits through a Catholic lens, helping to support our spiritual health and uphold our commitments to Catholic Social Teachings as we foster a welcoming and values-centered community.

Leader in Me is an evidence-based PK-12 model, developed in partnership with educators. It is designed to build resilience and leadership in students, create a high-trust culture and help improve academic achievement.

This research-backed approach empowers students with the leadership and life skills needed to thrive in college and career, complimenting and reinforcing the methodologies of our existing personalized learning framework. Through Leader in Me, we focus on developing the whole child by:

  • Teaching Christian leadership to every student.
  • Creating a culture of student empowerment and inclusion.
  • Aligning systems to drive results in academics.

Faith in Action | Service Learning Course

The service learning course is designed to bridge the gap between students, the community, and their faith. In this class students will take an active role in identifying needs in the community and seek to design and implement possible solutions. Students are the catalyst of each step of the service: outreach, planning, implementation, and reflection. This dynamic class offers students the opportunity to serve firsthand in different economic, social, and cultural situations and will seek to bring to life Galatians 5:3, “serve one another humbly in love.”

Mentor Group Service Model

As an extension of our response to social justice education and our efforts to reach the larger Dubuque community, Wahlert has integrated an ongoing service-learning model that helps students come to understand and feel empowered to fulfill real-world community needs. Through community service requests, year-round, student mentor groups respond to neighbors and community organizations that have expressed a need for assistance. This initiative has served as an intentional step toward cultivating a tangible understanding of what it means to serve others and to foster empathy. 

Wahlert administrators are partnering with student leaders in the school's Social Justice Club to establish a grassroots, student-driven path to a more inclusive and welcoming community.

HFCS Student Ethnicity

Wahlert 2% 3% 5% 90%
Mazzuchelli 1% 4% 5% 90%
Our Lady of Guadalupe 2% 8% 14% 76%
Resurrection 1% 3% 1% <1% 93% 1%
St. Columbkille 2% 3% 94% 1%
System 1% 4% 5% <1% 89% 1%

Frequently Asked Questions

Faith families in elementary grades and mentor groups in secondary levels provide a core team of support and friendship for every student. These groups work together for multiple years encouraging new relationships and deep connections. Together, they learn to work and socialize in mixed-age teams while growing in their faith. At Holy Family, a community focus on service-learning is facilitated through Faith in Action hands-on team-building experiences, which provide opportunities for exploration of students’ God-given skills and interests. And finally, through a wide variety of clubs and activities, and over 90 percent participation, our adolescent students have many outlets to bond and explore common interests.

In every class, Holy Family aspires to infuse Gospel values as we are all led by the teachings of the Catholic Church. Sometimes these lessons relate to the seven Catholic Social Teachings, and sometimes the corporal and spiritual Works of Mercy. In all cases, Holy family educators use a Catholic lens to assist and guide this Catholic curricular infusion. 

Our Shared Catholic Lens:

Holy Family Catholic Schools will approach decisions related to the past, present, and future of our ministry to educate all in the faith through a Catholic lens. We must make every attempt to answer a question or need with a sound Catholic approach before we move outside our faith and into secular materials and programs to serve our students and families. If there is a need to go outside our faith for materials and experiences, a strong and intentional Church teaching should accompany it so all may understand the Catholic harmony of both faith and reason.

No. Iowa law (house file 802) prevents schools from teaching critical race theory.

The law does not prohibit the teaching of sexism, slavery, racial oppression, racial segregation, or racial discrimination. However, the bill does ban the following 10 concepts from being taught:

  1. That one race or sex is superior to another.
  2. That the U.S. and Iowa are fundamentally racist or sexist.
  3. That someone, by virtue of their race or sex, is inherently racist or sexist.
  4. That someone should be discriminated against because of their race or sex.
  5. The members of one race or sex cannot and should not attempt to treat others without respect to race or sex.
  6. That someone's moral character is determined by their race or sex.
  7. That someone, by virtue of their race or sex, is responsible for actions committed in the past by other members of that race or sex.
  8. That someone should feel psychological distress (like guilt) because of their race or sex.
  9. That meritocracy or trains such as hard work ethic are racist or sexist, or were created by a particular race to oppress another race.
  10. Any other form of race or sex scapegoating or any other form of race or sex stereotyping.

Holy Family’s curriculum does not cover these tenets nor pose any challenge to this law.

Yes! Catholic Social Teachings and our desire to create an inclusive and welcoming community for all are at the core of Holy Family’s social justice work. We believe the social teachings of the Church empower and demand us to pursue this work in accordance with our mission to form disciples of Jesus Christ through Catholic educational excellence and reminds us of the important role that we play in inviting all to participate in Catholic education. The seven Catholic Social Teachings provide the perfect roadmap to guide this important work!

Seven Themes of Catholic Social Teaching

Learn more at USCCB

The Catholic Church proclaims that human life is sacred and that the dignity of the human person is the foundation of a moral vision for society. This belief is the foundation of all the principles of our social teaching. In our society, human life is under direct attack from abortion and euthanasia. The value of human life is being threatened by cloning, embryonic stem cell research, and the use of the death penalty. The intentional targeting of civilians in war or terrorist attacks is always wrong. Catholic teaching also calls on us to work to avoid war. Nations must protect the right to life by finding increasingly effective ways to prevent conflicts and resolve them by peaceful means. We believe that every person is precious, that people are more important than things, and that the measure of every institution is whether it threatens or enhances the life and dignity of the human person.

The person is not only sacred but also social. How we organize our society -- in economics and politics, in law and policy -- directly affects human dignity and the capacity of individuals to grow in community. Marriage and the family are the central social institutions that must be supported and strengthened, not undermined. We believe people have a right and a duty to participate in society, seeking together the common good and well-being of all, especially the poor and vulnerable.

The Catholic tradition teaches that human dignity can be protected and a healthy community can be achieved only if human rights are protected and responsibilities are met. Therefore, every person has a fundamental right to life and a right to those things required for human decency. Corresponding to these rights are duties and responsibilities--to one another, to our families, and to the larger society.

A basic moral test is how our most vulnerable members are faring. In a society marred by deepening divisions between rich and poor, our tradition recalls the story of the Last Judgment (Mt 25:31-46) and instructs us to put the needs of the poor and vulnerable first.

The economy must serve people, not the other way around. Work is more than a way to make a living; it is a form of continuing participation in God's creation. If the dignity of work is to be protected, then the basic rights of workers must be respected--the right to productive work, to decent and fair wages, to the organization and joining of unions, to private property, and to economic initiative.

We are one human family whatever our national, racial, ethnic, economic, and ideological differences. We are our brothers and sisters keepers, wherever they may be. Loving our neighbor has global dimensions in a shrinking world. At the core of the virtue of solidarity is the pursuit of justice and peace. Pope Paul VI taught that if you want peace, work for justice.1 The Gospel calls us to be peacemakers. Our love for all our sisters and brothers demands that we promote peace in a world surrounded by violence and conflict.

We show our respect for the Creator by our stewardship of creation. Care for the earth is not just an Earth Day slogan, it is a requirement of our faith. We are called to protect people and the planet, living our faith in relationship with all of Gods creation. This environmental challenge has fundamental moral and ethical dimensions that cannot be ignored.