Catholic Schools Week is one of our beautiful celebrations during the month of January. We honor and gratefully remember all those who work so hard to make our schools in the Diocese of Orange so meaningful and successful.
At Catholic schools, our children and young people learn faith, not just the basic of Christianity, but how to have a relationship with God. They benefit from high academic standards, which help each student reach his or her potential. They also learn the importance of service, both as an expression of faith and a manifestation of good citizenship. A good example for that is the recent food drive, helping Catholic Charities to reach out to the needy in Orange County.
We know that education takes place in the context of the wider community. Schools cannot be isolated from the community and society as a whole. We work hard in our approach to Catholic education to form the whole person. We try to enable our students not only to know about the world, but to bring Catholic values to their lives and the lives of others now and in the future.
Catholic schools are not simply institutions, they are communities – communities of faith, knowledge and service, a living witness to Christ and his message of loving communion with others. Catholic schools are unique faith-centered communities that integrate thinking and believing in ways that encourage intellectual growth and nurture faith and inspiration. They create a supportive and challenging climate which affirms the dignity of all persons within the school community.
I’d like to share with you a poem and a letter from two fifth graders, responding to my monthly talk about “Eucharist as Thanksgiving” to students in one of the Catholic schools where I served in Jacksonville, Florida as pastor. These are among the beautiful fruits of Catholic schools which we celebrate this month. It gives us a glimpse of how Catholic school has shaped students’ lives.
A SPECIAL POEM
Thank you God for giving me life,
Without it I wouldn’t be here.
Thank you God for giving me school,
Without it I wouldn’t be able to write this.
Thank you God for giving me the Catholic Church,
Without it I wouldn’t be able to learn about you.
Thank you God for giving me family,
Without it I would either be dead or starving or freezing.
Thank you God for my parish,
Without it, I wouldn’t be able to praise you.
Thank you God for your only Son,
Without Him, I wouldn’t be able to go to heaven.
A SPECIAL LETTER
Every time I and many other children of God walk up to the altar, I think of all the bad things I have done and I personally ask God to find somewhere in his merciful heart to forgive me. It truly is a thanksgiving as I now realize, because I am so very thankful for my life, family, school, parish church and Jesus.
I am so grateful that I am not a poor, abandoned child on the streets. I am happy to have a family, who loves me. One could not be more than thankful and happy to go to a school where there is a bond between the students, teachers and priests, even the poor, when we donate food. Church is a light, like Jesus, that leads us in the right direction to eternal life with our Father in heaven.
Eucharist is a splendid time to give thanks for all wonderful things only God has given us because God is only the Creator of good.
As we celebrate Catholic Schools Week, we give thanks to God for all those who have dedicated their lives to educating the young. Sincere gratitude goes to our teachers who have played a vital role in our Catholic education. Every day in the classroom, they are working hard with competency and compassion at reweaving the tattered fabric of society on which we all depend. Without teachers there would be no education. We all need teachers who care for our children. We all need teachers who care about what they teach. We need teachers who can connect with our children and help them to learn and grow. We need teachers who have faith in the importance of the work. Keeping that faith over time hasn’t been easy especially during this Covid-19 pandemic.
Here in the Diocese of Orange, we are so blessed to have many teachers who have dedicated many years of their lives to our Catholic education. We need to give them what they deserve – something more fitting than endless demands and mindless criticism. They deserve our sincere thanks. We thank God for their many years of service and pray that they continue to share their gifts in our excellent tradition of Catholic education.
Today, Catholic schools need your support, both spiritually and financially. We pray that the Lord continues to bless our parochial schools to help us face the many challenges in our society.