Having celebrated Catholic Schools Week nearly 6 months ago, I was reflecting on our gathering of Catholic school teachers, leaders, staff, pastors, supporters and friends at the 2019 National Catholic Educational Association conference in Chicago. I can’t help but feel proud of the wonderful contributions our schools make to our Church and the local communities in which they serve. I am also proud of the deep commitment of all who administrate, teach, and work in our schools, put children first, and strive to engage parents, families, parish, and local communities in the lives of their children. It is their dedication and expertise that brings the value of Catholic schools to light.
The greatest value of our schools is the faith dimension of a Catholic school education. As part of the educational and evangelizing life of parishes and the Church, a Catholic school enables students to learn about God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – live out their faith sacramentally in service, and discover who they are within the wider Catholic community in which they live. In this way, the school fully participates in its mission “to teach as Jesus did.”
We are all aware of the additional value our Catholic schools bring to students, their families, and the world in which they live and learn:
- a high-quality academic experience where students can succeed now and in their future
- an opportunity to grow and learn five days a week in a Spirit-filled environment that allows our school communities to stand tall
- engaging parents and families in the spiritual and academic life and education of their children
- an atmosphere of welcoming, caring, challenge, diversity, respect, and integrity with a genuine sense of vision and purpose
- appreciation for, and living out of, the moral teachings of the Church each day to elicit an entirely different “peer pressure” within the school community
- the advantage of growing with other students and families who share strong Catholic/Christian values
- experience a sense of belonging and an identity within the Catholic/Christian community— a genuine sense of worth and esteem
- integrate a sense of social justice by developing an attitude of responsibility to those less fortunate through Christian service
This is what our Catholic schools are about and why we need to celebrate who we are every day of the year.