Catholic Schools Week begins today. Please read some thoughts on Catholic Schools taken from the letters of Rev. Peter A. Rosazza, Auxiliary Bishop of Hartford and Salvatore R. Matano, Bishop of Burlington, who plead with us – Support Our Catholic Schools – they real treasure for Our Church and Our Society.
The US Conference of Bishops’ document states: “The Catholic community is encouraged at every level to support the work of our Catholic elementary and secondary schools, keeping them available and accessible to as many parents as possible. Therefore, we the Catholic bishops of the United States strongly encourage our clergy and laity to market and support Catholic elementary and secondary schools as one of our church’s primary missions.”
Indeed, Jesus was and is The Teacher. He taught us how to pray to “Our Father;” and to seek forgiveness from the source of all mercy. Every miracle He performed, every teaching that He proclaimed identified Him as the Way, the Truth and the Life. (Cf. John 14:6).
So it is, then, that teaching is a vital and integral part of the life of the Catholic Church. In imitation of Jesus, we are to teach as He taught. This is the primary mission of our Catholic schools: to assist parents in their role as the first and best teachers of their children in the ways of the Christian life. Our Catholic schools are committed to providing a complete education for our children which unites mind, spirit, heart and soul. In our schools, faith in Jesus provides the foundation upon which all subjects develop the human person. One has only to contemplate the great works of literature, outstanding musical settings, and the magnificent works of art, which all found their inspiration in the Christ event.
Our Catholic schools are necessary institutions to fulfill the mandate of Jesus to His disciples: “Go, therefore, make disciples of all the nations; baptize them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teach them to observe all the commands I gave you.” (Matthew 28: 19-20). Building upon this theme, His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI, in his address to the Community of Catholic Education at The Catholic University of America on April 17, 2008, stated: “Education is integral to the mission of the Church to proclaim the Good News. First and foremost every Catholic institution is a place to encounter the living God who in Jesus Christ reveals his transforming love and truth.” Our Holy Father goes on to mention specifically the importance of Catholic schools in this work of evangelization: “The Catholic community here has in fact made education one of its highest priorities. This undertaking has not come without great sacrifice. Towering figures, like Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton and other founders and foundresses, with great tenacity and foresight, laid the foundations of what is today a remarkable network of parochial schools contributing to the spiritual well-being of the Church and the nation.”
Bishop Rosazza wrote: “Some years ago I became friendly with Marion Hepburn Grant, sister of Catherine Hepburn and mother of Catherine Houghton, who was a long time resident of West Hartford, CT. She confided to me that as a Protestant and community activist, she felt that Catholic schools were a divisive element in society. Sometime later she became aware of the work of Catholic schools and wrote an op-ed article in The Hartford Courant entitled “I am a Converted Bigot”. In the article she praised Catholic schools for three points: formation of students in moral values, excellent education accomplished at one third-the cost of public education, and effective education and formation of students who live at the poverty level. I was elated that she had come to this conclusion and for pointing out to the general public the value of our schools”, concludes Bp. Rosazza.
The success of Catholic education is a well established fact. We have a lower dropout rate (3.4%) than both public (14.4%) and other private schools (11.9%).” A study produced by Harvard University and issued in the year 2008 states that Catholic school students performed better than other students on the three basic objectives of civic education; the capacity for civic engagement or voluntary community service, political knowledge or learning, and using civic skills and political tolerance or respect for opinions different from their own. This defeats the old canard we so often hear that Catholic schools produce narrow-minded students.
Catholic school students not only study Catholic social teachings but more importantly put them into practice through their service projects. Thus students have the opportunity to experience poverty first hand, and, guided by their teachers, ask the question, “Why are these people poor?” This is a far more complex question, which students who are immersed in Christ centered, person connected environments of Catholic schools seek to answer through faith and love of Jesus.
What a treasure our Catholic schools are for our church and our society! We offer our humble and heartfelt expression of thanks to superintendents, teachers, staffs, volunteers, and all others who support them. Saint Iranaeus of Lyon, who died in the year 200, once proclaimed that “The glory of God is the human being fully alive.” Thanks to the power of the Holy Spirit, our Catholic schools work tirelessly and hopefully to produce students desirous of reaching that ideal.
Noting the rich heritage of Catholic education in our country, the Bishops of the United States have committed themselves to supporting and nurturing our Catholic schools for the benefit of our children now and into the future. But the Bishops cannot do it alone. Catholic schools need the support of our priests, religious, laity and parishes. As a community of faith, it is our mutual responsibility to assure that future generations of young people will have the opportunity to attend a Catholic school. So many of us have had this opportunity in years past; it is an opportunity that must be shared with others. To be sure, the continuation of successful and vibrant Catholic schools will require sacrifices. The question that must be asked is :”Why the sacrifice?” The answer comes to us from the voices of children. Our children ask us: “How are you helping us to prepare for our future lives?” “What moral and religious foundations are you providing for us in order to make the right decisions as we face the complexities of the modern age?” “What is the educational inheritance that you are passing on to us?” “How complete is the education that you are handing down to our generation?”
These are difficult questions, but questions that touch upon the future leadership of our communities, states, nation and world. Our young people are our hope, our successors in our chosen vocations and professions, our vision into the future. A Catholic school education is intended to equip them with Catholic principles and teachings which are timeless and open their eyes to a world both human and transcendent, ordinary and extraordinary, created by God who continues to dwell among us.
Today, we plea for support for the last remaining Catholic Elementary School in our neighborhood – St. Stanislaus Kostka Catholic Academy. The school will prosper only if more students attend and its students, consequently, will benefit from that prosperity. The Academy will provide the necessary support to parents who are the first teachers of faith, of moral values and of proper social behavior. Children are the future cornerstones of our community as well as our country – can we afford to save on their education? Is the yearly tuition – $10 a day – a truly overwhelming investment in education for our future?
Historically, the Academy’s graduates have excelled and have been accepted into very good High Schools. Clearly, our students are exposed to a wide variety of educational experiences, which will enable them to succeed in life. They are exposed to a broader vision of their community as well as world, which enables them to strive to grow and acquire greater knowledge.
For over 110 years, the Academy has thrived and successfully competed with the best public schools in our neighborhood. In general, our Academy students have scored better than public school students on all standardized tests without the special test preparation sessions that the public schools subscribe to.
The reality is that SSKCA is the last Catholic school in Greenpoint. It is the last bastion for cultivating knowledge in a respectful environment with true Christian values with a particular focus on morals and appropriate social behavior. Today our plea is for you to get active in helping the Academy. Register your child; protect the Academy’s good name and dispel any negative comments that deride our school ; and lastly, be an advocate and open spokesperson for our school.
Additionally, help the school with your God-given gifts, namely, your skills and talents. Identify yourself to the Principal if you are an alumn, so that you can be a source of support for catholic education. If you did not attend our catholic school, but want to make a difference, you can commit to support catholic education by setting up a fund or a scholarship, making regular donations, as well as promoting generosity among friends towards this most worthwhile cause. The Academy remains a very important part of Greenpoint. All who live and work in this community need to seriously consider supporting this alternative to public education.
Christ taught Truth, Love, and Goodness. SSKCA educates our youth in Christ’s teachings. BE THE ONE, who enables our school to continue its mission in educating the children of our community in a sound Catholic institution.
Visit the Website of the St. Stanislaus Kostka Catholic Academy: http://www.ststansacademy.org/