-Fr. Timothy O’Connor, St. Joseph Catholic Church, Avon Lake
This month, we celebrate our Catholic schools. And I am pleased and grateful that we have a Catholic day school as part of our parish life — our beloved St. Joseph Parish School.
What are some of the strengths of Catholic education?
1. Catholic schools develop positive Catholic identity. There is a Catholic culture and identity that is clearly religious, in all subjects and activities. We are walking on holy ground and acknowledge that Jesus Christ is present among us at all times. Our Catholic identity is worked at by all, for we are the hands, voice and heart of Christ in the world. Prayer and spirituality are not just trimmings, but are the essence of what we do.
2. Catholic families want to pass on their faith tradition. Students are encouraged to live the Gospel fearlessly, for this will be the fabric of their future lives. To be God-centered is to become second nature, for Catholic life is not just a Sunday experience. Children are being not only informed about, but also formed in our faith. Catholic schools develop leaders for the entire community, as ethical professionals and as honorable citizens. This 21stcentury is to be better because our children are formed in Catholic schools
3. Catholic schools develop the whole person. Catholic schools have changed a lot since the 1950s. A classroom today may be startling for parents and grandparents. There are the usual crucifixes and statues — but there are also Smart Boards, instead of a chalkboard. Or perhaps there is an electronic information station, instead of a teacher’s traditional desk. Solid academics are the hallmark of Catholic schools and excellence is the norm. How do we balance academic and technical training with developing the whole person? The key is “integration, integration, integration” — for the mind cannot be separated from the soul. It is important to integrate the spiritual with our place in the world in order to become “saintly scholars.”
4. Children learn best in a well-disciplined setting. There are many jokes and myths about the past. Today, the emphasis is on forming children to be responsible. Discipline really becomes synonymous with respect and responsibility. Children are taught and encouraged to be kind — to become like Jesus.
5. Catholic schools are good for everyone’s future. They contribute to the good of our nation and our neighborhoods. They help students assume civic responsibility and encourage a thirst for justice and peace. Catholic schools exist not only to teach academics, but also to help parents educate the whole child — mind, body and spirit. Catholic schools work to make this world a better place for us all.