Catholic schools empower students to bring Christ to others
By Dr. Barbara O’Block
If you were approached by a friend, co-worker or neighbor and asked why you send your child(ren) to a Catholic school, what would be your response? Would the response be somewhat along the lines of, “my parents sacrificed to send me to Catholic schools and I want the same thing for my children?”
Perhaps you would respond that you think that Catholic schools are safer and that you believe that the teachers are stricter and have better discipline. Or, the response might be that you want your children to have strong academic preparation so that they can be successful in college . . . and life.
I would hope that in your response you would also have cited that you wanted to give your children the gift of participating in a Catholic faith community: the opportunity to learn about the Catholic faith, to hear and reflect on God’s word, the opportunity for your children to pray and receive the sacraments, the opportunity to be engaged in service to others.
Catholic education is all about “communicating Christ,” of bringing our students to Christ and then empowering them to bring Christ to others. The depth of this statement is quite powerful.
While offering a wide and purposeful array of academics, social experiences and athletic opportunities, our schools are “apprenticeships” in the Catholic faith, in the learning to live the life of a disciple of Christ.
This is the fundamental difference between Catholic schools and public schools.
While racial, economic, and even religious diversity characterize the learning environments of the Catholic schools in the Diocese of Gary, these environments, most importantly, reflect the love of God.
From the first moment a student sets foot in a Catholic school, s/he ought to have the impression of entering a new environment, an environment illuminated by our faith, an environment where the crafting of friendly and harmonious relationships, that enrich the community, are built on that faith - and love. Gospel values of hospitality/welcome, reverence and respect identify our school communities as “Catholic.”
The annual celebration of Catholic Schools Week focuses on the value that Catholic education provides to young people and its contributions to the Catholic Church, local communities and the nation. “Communities of Faith, Knowledge, and Service,” the theme of this year’s National Catholic Schools Week celebration, is an opportunity to showcase the faith-filled education and academic excellence that Catholic schools provide for students across the country and in our own diocese.
As you attend the liturgies and other activities planned for Catholic Schools Week, I hope these allow you to reaffirm all the reasons you chose to send your children to a Catholic School - and to share these reasons with others. We thank you for choosing a Catholic education for your children and look forward to our continued partnership with you; our children are the future of our communities, our nation, and our Church. Happy Catholic Schools Week!
Dr. Barbara O’Block is the superintendent of schools for the Diocese of Gary.