During the week of January 31st our Church is observing Catholic Schools Week. This is an opportunity to celebrate what makes our schools unique and excellent as communities of Faith, Knowledge and Service. I believe that Catholic schools are important, needed and deserve our support. My commitment to these three goals is formulated in Forming Minds And Hearts In Grace: A Plan For Catholic Schools in the Diocese of Camden which is available at www.camdendiocese.org.
In 2014 I called together a panel of advisers to assist me to deal with the challenges facing our diocesan schools. The hard work of the Bishop’s Commission on Catholic Schools resulted in recommendations for our Schools that I have accepted. Please, read the PLAN in order to appreciate its scope and seriousness. It is the charter for our diocesan Catholic Schools.
Our schools are important, needed and deserve our support because they form disciples of Jesus Christ. They lead students to encounter Jesus Christ. This happens through direct and indirect exposure to Catholic culture that is either physically or spiritually present in each school. It is a crucifix in each room; religious statuary; images of Saints and the Blessed Virgin Mary and art that reflects the Christian tradition. Exposure to these elements influence each student’s understanding of himself/herself as a child of God and even influences the choices and decisions they make in life.
In many of the schools there is a service requirement which teaches the need to be aware of our responsibility for our neighbors. A Catholic School makes students socially minded and aware of the community beyond the school building.
Catholic culture also seeps into the curriculum, for example, in the academics. A lesson in history, science, art, music that makes reference to God or to church. The philosophy of a Catholic education (its business) is for the student to form conscience; to acquire virtues and values. All of which makes the School uniquely focused on the person of each student; on the God-given dignity of each person.
Finally, the school is a place of prayer. The school community gathered around the Table of the Lord to offer the holy sacrifice of the Mass and the other treasury of traditional prayers and devotions that are offered to God and learned for life.
I thank our parents who choose Catholic schools. I am well aware of the sacrifices involved. My gratitude goes to our parish priests who support our schools along with the commitment of our dedicated principals, faculties, staffs and benefactors.
It is my opinion that our schools are needed more than ever because of the formation in Christ that they provide. A formation that makes a difference not only to a student’s life but also to society. How sad that society offers us no assistance while our education system provides it with outstanding citizens and leaders.
Your support of our schools is critical. With no shame my hand is out begging for your financial support. If you can help, please visit the Catholic Schools online donation page at camdendiocese.org/support-catholic-schools. Your contribution will support schools and make scholarships available. You can also help by directing families to consider a Catholic School for their child.
Christ is the Teacher in a Catholic School and His Church is the base community for the school. Our Church has been in the business of education for centuries. In South Jersey, the first Catholic schools opened in 1859 at parishes in Camden and Gloucester. With your support, encouragement and prayers we can dare to continue offering this educational alternative that is a Catholic school.