Each year, in January, we celebrate Catholic Schools for the gifts they bring to our parish communities, and to the lives of children and families throughout our nation.
Catholic schools provide a safe and secure learning environment within a community of faith. Growing up in a Catholic community provides children with a lived experience of Christian discipleship. Children learn what it means to follow in the footsteps of Jesus, they practice living the values of the Catholic religion, and share the journey of faith. The faculty, pastoral staff, parents, and parishioners all become models of what it means to live as Catholic Christians in today’s world.
When we consider what it means to live in a community of faith, we discover what is at the heart of our belief. First, we develop a personal relationship with Jesus. Preparing for and sharing the sacraments provide touchpoints for meeting the living God in everyday life. The Eucharist provides food for the journey. Together, we are the “Body of Christ.”
Second, we are in a relationship with each other. As Christian disciples, we are called to live in a right-relationship with each other. Sometimes we fail, and then the sacrament of Reconciliation reminds us to forgive others as Jesus forgives us. When we live in a reconciling community, we acknowledge our mistakes and seek to restore relationships after conflict. Jesus reminds us to see each other with the eyes of love. A healthy faith community models forgiveness and reconciliation in all interactions; from classroom management to sporting events, from parish council meetings and social gatherings, it is important for Christian charity to prevail.
And third, we remember that service is also at the heart of our faith. A basic tenant of Catholic Social Teaching is that each human being, and all of creation, has dignity and worth, and is precious in the eyes of God. We are called to become bearers of light, to show compassion for those who have less, to share the gifts God gives to us, to stand up for good, and to make certain that resources are shared in just and equitable ways. We are called to make it easier to live a Christian life. This means reaching out beyond our own needs and wants, and becoming responsible for bringing love and justice into our little corner of the world.
Catholic schools have a unique opportunity to provide a living example of what a Christian community looks like. Part of the responsibility of a Catholic school is to make sure each child has the knowledge necessary to become a contributing member of society. Academics are key to helping children grow to become productive members of the parish, the local community, and the world.
Stepping into a Catholic school, we experience the beauty of providing a learning environment that celebrates faith as we help children grow in knowledge, and then practice serving others with the gifts that God has given to them.
At RCL Benziger we are proud to walk with you along the formative journey. Our basal religion textbook series provides doctrinally sound materials to support your efforts. Our sacramental programs walk with the children, their parents, and the parish as they grow in faith and enter into the life of the church more fully. Our resources are tailored to help each Catholic school, each parish, to share faith with the next generation.
In January, and throughout the year, we pray for the principals, teachers, parents, and children who learn and grow in Catholic schools. We celebrate you and your commitment to Catholic education!
Mary A. DuQuaine started working in professional church ministry in 1993, she worked in the Archdioceses of Milwaukee and Chicago. She earned a Master of Theology Degree from Catholic Theological Union as a Bernardin Scholar where she specialized in Spirituality and Ethics. She is the author of several books on liturgical catechesis and spirituality.