I hope by now you know how much I value the presence of our children and young people in our parish. In fact the strength and size of our Catholic school and the religious education programs were a huge attraction for me when I was appointed the pastor of this great parish. Our children and young people make all of us youthful and fresh because we are as old as our dreams and as young as our hopes.
This week we are celebrating Catholic Schools Week and we are proud to celebrate St Paul of the Cross School. I want to express my personal appreciation to our principal, Ms. Lorelei Bobroff, the faculty and the staff. In a special way I want to thank our teachers who make a personal sacrifice to teach in a Catholic school. This week is also a summons to re-dedicate ourselves to the cause of Catholic education. I have said it before and I will say it again: “I am fully committed to our school and I wish all our parishioners could afford to and would want to send their children to our Catholic school.” I will do my best – within the constraints of our financial resources – to keep the tuition affordable and ensure the high quality of our education.
We must remember that Catholic schools and universities have played a significant role in sustaining and strengthening the Catholic faith in our country. Thanks to our vast network of schools and universities, the Church in the US is still quite strong. I am convinced that great numbers of active Catholics in the pews as well as in the priesthood and lay ministries have had some Catholic education in their background. Besides teaching our children faith and morals, Catholic schools have been instrumental in preserving our Catholic culture and in forging their Catholic identity. I do believe that we would be a stronger Church if only our schools had not suffered huge losses in enrollment over the years.
I am fully aware that all parents make tremendous sacrifices in order to raise their children. Now I would like to thank the parents who send their children to our school. Because you send your children to a Catholic school, you may have to forego that special vacation or that extraordinary purchase, but your sacrifice will bear abundant fruit. When we live in a neighborhood with such a great school system, it does take more deliberation to choose Catholic education. While I fully understand that parents have their reasons for choosing a public school rather than a Catholic one, in this column I want to point out the benefits of Catholic education. I know that public schools can offer more programs and more options than we can. However, our alumni perform as well in college, if not better.
Leaving academics aside, I want to list the intangibles that our Catholic school brings. First of all, our students are taught their Catholic faith not occasionally, but every day. Religion is part of every subject that is taught in the classroom. In addition our children are also helped to form healthy religious habits such as going to Mass, Communion and confession. While our mainstream culture gets caught up with goblins and witches at Halloween, our students dress up as saints and learn about their lives. Our children live and breathe our Catholic culture which has been lost to a great extent. They have constant contact with the priests. The sense of community that our school brings to our larger parish cannot be emphasized enough. Students also learn that serving others is a lifelong obligation. Discussions on character and moral values take place almost on a daily basis. Most importantly, Catholic education urges the students to think about heaven and helps them to get there. After all, as one devout school mom once said to me, “What is more important than getting your spouse and children to heaven?”
To our school community I would like to issue a challenge. Commenting on the teachings of St Pope John Paul, Archbishop J. Michael Miller proposes five traits that every Catholic school should possess. According to him a Catholic school should be:
Let us continue to sustain the educative mission of the Church by supporting our Catholic school. In this connection I would like to invite all parish families – whether you have children in our school or not – to come to our “Celebrating the Spirit” fundraiser that will be held in our Parish Life Center on Friday, February 5th.
Let us pray for our school, our students, our faculty and our staff. May Christ, our Sovereign Teacher, bless the work of our hands!
Born in India to deeply-committed Catholic parents, Fr Britto is one of seven children. He joined the Salesians of Don Bosco as a young man and was ordained a priest in 1981.
After he completed his priestly formation and his early education in India, he came to the US for his graduate degree in Journalism at...Read more...