Today we begin an exciting week in our parish as we open our annual celebration of Catholic Schools Week. This week is a unique time set aside by the Church in the United States to celebrate the gift that our Catholic Schools are. How blessed and enriched we are at St. Joseph Parish to have a school as part of our mission of evangelization.
The theme for this year’s celebration is, “Catholic Schools: Learn, Serve, Lead, Succeed.” The focus is on the important spiritual, academic and societal contributions provided by a Catholic education firmly rooted in the Truth of the Gospel.
Bishop Michal C. Barber, S.J., newly elected chair of the United States Bishops Committee on Catholic Education said, “Young people today need Catholic education more than ever. In a world where truth, beauty and goodness are considered all but subjective, the Way, Truth and Life offered us in Jesus Christ are our only source of direction, clarity and hope. Furthermore, being rooted in faith does not endanger the academic quality of Catholic schools, but in fact is their very motivation for excellence in all things.”
Nearly 1.8 million students are currently educated in 6,352 Catholic schools in our cities, suburbs, small towns and rural communities around the country. Students receive an education that helps them become critical thinkers, strong communicators and active members of society, thus equipping them for higher education, a competitive work environment, and most importantly, living a Christian life of virtue in a challenging society. Bishop Barber further stated, “Following Christ’s example of loving and serving all people, Catholic schools proudly provide a well-rounded education to disadvantaged families, new arrivals to America and to all who seek a seat in our schools. Since the inception of Catholic schools in our country, we have always sought to welcome families of all backgrounds while maintaining our principles and teaching in a spirit of charity.”
Statistics show that ninety-nine percent of Catholic school students graduate from high school and eighty-six percent of Catholic school graduates attend colleges or universities. These percentages have been consistent over the past twenty years. This is something that we can be very proud of.
The observance of Catholic Schools Week began in 1974. The following year, Mother Elizabeth Ann Bayley Seton, foundress of the parochial school system in the United States was canonized on September 14, the first American born citizen to be so honored. Mother Seton’s faith and courage to step out into the unknown are living testimony of the importance of a Catholic education. We owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to Mother Seton for the gift she has given us.
This Wednesday January 30, our school community will celebrate in a special way our identity as a Catholic School. I invite you to join us for this liturgy of thanksgiving. Also, check the bulletin for the two open houses that will be held. Come and see what our parish school has to offer. I think you will be surprised beyond words.
As we open Catholic Schools Week, we call upon the prayerful intercession of our patron, St. Joseph, and the foundress of the Catholic School system in our country, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton. May they continue to pray with us and for us as we further the mission entrusted to our care.
— Father Dennis, January 27, 2019