Catholic schools must be a witness of hope to students and their families, helping them to embrace the joy of the Gospel message within their daily lives.
Over the course of my career I have taught a number of college courses and given many workshops on what it means to be a Catholic school. One of the things that I always ask Catholic school teachers and principals to think about is the purpose of Catholic education. I ask them to consider who we are to serve and why we are called to serve them. I also ask them to consider that Catholic schools are not only places of evangelization, but are places of hope.
The United States Catholic Conference of Bishops has written about Catholic schools and the new evangelization. In "Renewing Christian Witness: Reflections on Catholic Schools as Instruments of the New Evangelization" they state: "The new evangelization calls the Church to spread the Gospel with new energy -- to bring the joy of the Good News of Jesus Christ to a world in desperate need of authentic hope."
In the Archdiocese of Boston, we believe that Catholic schools are to be places where hope lives. We believe our schools are great tools to be utilized fully to help evangelize not only our students, but their families, too. Sharing scripture and providing opportunities for our students to encounter Christ in a multitude of ways, including the sacraments, means that we are assisting our students and their families in knowing the message of love, hope and forgiveness that comes to us through our relationship with Jesus. Our schools exist for this very purpose and we embrace this mission.
As we begin this school year, we are asking for your prayers. With over 38,000 students and almost 4,500 teachers and 350 school leaders, there will be mistakes made each day. Yet, I also know that with the mistakes comes forgiveness and learning. I know that when I visit our schools, I see faces that reflect the joy, hope and love of Christ. It is such a privilege to see our teachers and students working together. I see the dedication of the adults in our buildings who want our students to learn each day and I am blessed to have a front row seat to the joy and hope that exists in our classrooms each day.
Catholic schools must be a witness of hope to students and their families, helping them to embrace the joy of the Gospel message within their daily lives. Bringing students and their parents to the person of Jesus Christ and deepening their awareness of his love, Catholic schools will be "beacons of hope in our increasingly secular culture" as called for in "Renewing Christian Witness: Reflections on Catholic Schools as Instruments of the New Evangelization."
Archbishop J. Peter Sartain of Seattle states that Catholic schools offer to the world students who have "the gift of a well-formed conscience and a true vision of life, hope and peace." Because our students are challenged to learn each day and to think with a Catholic world view, our students are well prepared to take their place in the world and to become the leaders and creators our world desperately needs. We set our sights on educating the whole child: mind, body and spirit, and our results are impressive. We are developing "saints and scholars."
It is wonderful to be in the Archdiocese of Boston, where there is so much effort and energy directed toward evangelization and faith formation. This year, we are offering a workshop to our teachers and principals on the new evangelization and how we can work to bring not just our students into multiple encounters with Christ, but also their families. This work is very intentional and it is gratifying to develop tools that we can use to support our teachers and school leaders with this task. We want to engage our students and family on their faith journeys while providing a great academic education for each student.
Please pray for our students and their families. Please pray for our teachers and school leaders. Our world struggles in ways we could not previously imagine, but our schools and Church offer the joy of the Gospel. We offer prayer and encouragement. We offer hope. We are blessed to bring our students, their families and ourselves to Christ. Let us make the most of this opportunity this school year.
KATHY MEARS IS THE SUPERINTENDENT OF CATHOLIC SCHOOLS IN THE ARCHDIOCESE OF BOSTON.