Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
While Notre Dame is blessed in so many ways, one of the greatest gifts of our parish is our thriving elementary school. A school brings to a parish energy and joy, and I know for myself that having so many children involved in the parish gives me great hope for the future. Sadly though, as we look around the dio- cese and the nation, we see so many schools struggling. It seems as though we have forgotten the importance of faith based schools. Above all, then, we should give thanks to God for our school, but we should also take a moment to celebrate what a great gift Catholic education is and remember how important it is that we all strive to support and expand this forgotten blessing. This week, when we celebrate Catholic School Week, we have an opportunity to do just that.
We take time, first and foremost, to recognize the difference that a Catholic education makes. Most schools, particularly in good school districts, do an excellent job of preparing students for success. They are able to help children grow in the habit of learning, so they can absorb the math, science, and history that they need to excel in college and beyond. But while they prepare for success, the one thing they cannot do is pre- pare students for holiness. The challenge of a secular environment is that God and faith are strictly limited to outside the classroom. It is only a Catholic school that is able to bring faith into every aspect of learning. His- tory reports can include lives of the saints, writing projects can discuss the importance of loving God and neighbor, and in gym class the teacher can talk to first graders about how they should not cheat because God is watching (true story!).
Catholic schools can educate the child on a much deeper level because they can educate not just the mind but the soul. Of course this is possible without Catholic education, and we would never want to make someone guilty for not choosing Catholic education, but the burden for this falls largely on the parents alone to give their children a sense of faith. Religious education takes place only one hour a week, as does weekly Mass, so those can only help in a limited way. Especially in our world, where there are so many temptations, where children are exposed to so much darkness – bullying and anxiety, the dangers of technology and social media, the stress of needing to be involved in everything – children need that strong foundation in faith, and Catholic schools reinforce those lessons about what’s truly important that parents teach at home.
So it is our goal here at Notre Dame to make Catholic education a possibility for everyone. If you know someone who is worried they cannot afford our school, please call us and we can discuss options – there are plenty of scholarships available. If you know someone who hesitates because they worry Catholic schools do not have the same resources, please come visit us and see the incredible technology we make use of each day. We are blessed with a wonderful principle, Mrs. Durkin, and a great staff of teachers who choose to serve in a Catholic school because they believe in that mission of helping children not just succeed, but become young men and women of faith, hope, and love prepared for the challenges of the world. Let us all pray that our school continues to grow, and that our community continues to support Catholic education so that we may continue to form the saints of tomorrow.
Yours in Christ,