A Message from the Bishop – Celebrating Catholic school communities of faith, knowledge and service

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Catholic Schools Week is the annual celebration of the great mission of Catholic School education. This year’s theme celebrates Catholic Schools as Communities of Faith, Knowledge and Service. The Catholic Schools in our great nation were founded and organized through the visionary efforts of bishops, priests, religious women and men and with the astounding and generous support of poor Catholic immigrants. As in other dioceses, this vision and commitment to Catholic education is a proud story in the history of the Diocese of Camden, where Catholic schools flourished through the hard labors of the Catholic community.
There are fundamental differences between Catholic education and secular education. These are expressed in a commitment to the Gospel of Jesus Christ that pervades all aspects of the Catholic school program. Another is rooted in the God-given dignity of each human person which challenges all students to respect this presence in all women and men. Catholic education is founded on the truth of Catholic faith as preached and interpreted by the Church through the ages. These differences make our schools very successful in preparing students for success in this life as well as focusing them on the ultimate goal of this life, which is eternal life with God.
Catholic schools are facing tremendous challenges. Enrollment is a critical factor. Some enrollment challenges are due to demographic shifts and smaller-sized families. Another challenge of more concern to me as your Bishop is the growing secularization of our society – a secularization that minimizes or eliminates the value of education of the WHOLE person, mind, body and SOUL. I ask parents to reflect on whether they can afford not to provide this kind of education to their children. This is one way parents fulfill the promises made at their child’s Baptism.
Too many of our families are facing economic challenges that prevent them from providing a Catholic school education, which many past generations were able to provide through the generosity of the whole Church and the commitment of religious communities. I call on all of you who were given the great gift of Catholic education to contact your alma mater or another Catholic school to offer in gratitude for your Catholic education the support of your treasure, time and talent. I ask that each of us do what we can to encourage and support those who want a Catholic education but cannot afford it. Finally, I challenge all of us to get more vocal with our public officials and press them about aid to our Catholic Schools.
How proud we should all be of our schools as Communities of Faith where belief in Jesus Christ and His Church pervades the school environment; as Communities of Knowledge, where serious learning and education takes place that develops minds which think and understand, and as Communities of Service, which look beyond the school door to the wider world with concern, especially for the least among us.