Catholic Education: A Vital Part of Catholic Life

Around the U.S., families are in “back-to-school mode.” Summer vacations have wound up; stores are stocked with school supplies. Most school systems, including our own Catholic schools, begin around this time, so by now teachers are welcoming students back to the classroom.

This time of year, conjures up all kinds of memories for me: warm late-summer or early-autumn days; being back in a freshly painted classroom; the smell of new books; meeting new teachers; moving to a new grade or perhaps a new school altogether.

There’s a special energy in a school as the year starts. So much of our lives revolves around that old rhythm! It’s part of my life, as I’m pastor of a small, inner-city school. We’ve already been in session for a couple of weeks. There’s a “fresh-slate” kind of feeling, a sense that we can do great things this coming year.

Education has always been a vital component of Catholic life in the U.S. I always tell people that our school is one of the most important things we do as a Christian community. Helping young people recognize their God-given dignity; sharing them God’s hopes and dreams—now that’s something we Catholics understand. We know the timeless Biblical texts of covenant and promise. We can introduce our children to Jesus and his stories of love and forgiveness.

The challenge, of course, is to do this in creative ways, true to the Church’s mission—as teachers, staff, pastor. I love visiting the school, talking to kids and supporting our hardworking staff. Most of all, I enjoy each Friday, leading a service and helping our students understand just how special each of them is, because God made them that way.

I pray, for all Catholic educators at all levels who are re-dedicating themselves to this rewarding task for another year: May God teach us new things this year! And may each family and student come to grow in God’s love through the great work of our Catholic schools!

by Judy Zarick

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