Catholic schools help parents pass on the faith

| Archbishop Bernard Hebda | January 24, 2019 | 0 Comments

While the media coverage of this year’s March for Life in Washington, D.C., has been dominated by a videoed altercation involving some high school students from Kentucky, a Native American activist and members of the Black Hebrew Israelites, I came home from the march overwhelmingly energized by the faith of the young Catholics who participated from our archdiocese.

Archbishop Bernard Hebda

Archbishop Bernard Hebda

The 180 who traveled with our group, as well as the many from our archdiocese whom I met along the trek from the National Mall to the U.S. Supreme Court building, impressed me as being thoughtful, principled, prayerful and passionate. Having spent three days with our young pilgrims, I have to confess that there were times when I felt old, not getting all their jokes or catching all their references. But their personal commitment to Christ — and their desire to share their faith with others in the most creative and compassionate of ways — really resonated in my seemingly prehistoric heart and gave me great hope.

In the days leading up to the march, they creatively came up with a number of chants for our group that not only communicated our message to bystanders, but also kept us together (no small feat at such a large event). It was clear that they were feeding off of each other’s joy and creative genius. Their sharings at the end of the day were never less than inspiring as they drew upon their experiences of the march and rally, or the Holocaust Museum or the St. John Paul II National Shrine, or the Vietnam and Korean War memorials.

It brought back lots of memories from my own high school days and, in particular, the March for Life in 1976 and 1977. In comparison with my 2019 companions, I realize that I must have been quite the slacker. Whereas the recent trip was punctuated with daily Mass, eucharistic adoration, morning prayer, night prayer and opportunities for confession, my high school classmates and I had spent much of our bus trip to D.C. planning escapes from our chaperones to meet up with our contemporaries from Pittsburgh’s all-girl Catholic high schools for hot chocolate and a little sightseeing. In some regards, times have apparently changed for the better.

This week’s experience of vibrant Catholicism gave me a glimpse of what can happen when parents and their collaborators in education succeed in passing on the faith. It also highlighted for me how distressing it is that recent studies have shown that 13 is the median age when Catholics who have left the Church begin to stop identifying themselves as Catholic.

Next Sunday, the Church in the United States begins its annual celebration of Catholic Schools Week. I’m grateful that our 79 Catholic elementary schools and 14 high schools provide our parents and Church with a time-tested vehicle for passing on the faith. While the young folks on the pilgrimage to D.C. certainly illustrated that the faith can be successfully passed on to public school students and home-schooled students, it also brought to the fore the tremendous opportunity that we have in our Catholic schools to form joy-filled disciples who know both Christ and the life-giving teachings of his Church.

We are blessed in this archdiocese to have not only a strong tradition of vibrant youth ministry and religious education, but also a deeply rooted commitment to excellent Catholic schools, continuing the work that began when the Sisters of St. Joseph opened the first Catholic school for our local Church in 1851.

The Roadmap for Excellence in Catholic Education, discussed in this edition of The Catholic Spirit, builds upon that strong foundation. Since my arrival in the archdiocese, I have been consistently impressed by the conviction, shared by our faithful as well as by local foundations, that we are stewards of a great gift: our Catholic schools. I have been consistently amazed by the response that I have received from our partners in Catholic education — and experts from across the country — whenever I have asked for their assistance in the articulation of our Roadmap. This has brought to bear best practices from around the country while recognizing factors that distinguish our particular history and strengths.

I am hopeful that our intense and collective efforts will help us to bring even greater stability to our Catholic schools — while maximizing their impact — by striving to make them not only academically excellent, but also affordable and accessible. As we have shared with others our desire to develop both effective future leadership for our Catholic schools and a curriculum that accurately and joyfully reflects our Catholic beliefs and values, the response has been overwhelmingly positive and energizing.

I would ask that you would keep the Roadmap and the ongoing renewal of our Catholic schools in your prayers. Our young people and their families deserve the best that we can offer. Building on the theme for Catholic Schools Week 2019, may the schools of this archdiocese truly be places where our young can learn, serve, lead and succeed.

Las escuelas católicas ayudan a los padres a transmitir la fe

Tags: , , , , , ,

Category: Only Jesus