Catholic Schools Week — Daily Themes
Jan. 28: Celebrating Your Parish
Jan. 29: Celebrating Your Community
Jan. 30: Celebrating Your Students
Jan. 31: Celebrating the Nation
10 a.m.: Mass at Ss. Simon and Jude Cathedral, 6351 N. 27th Ave., Phoenix
12 p.m.: Rally at Wesley Bolin Memorial Plaza, 1700 W. Washington St, Phoenix
Feb. 1: Celebrating Vocations
Feb. 2: Celebrating Faculty, Staff and Volunteers
“God is amazing. He put my ears exactly where they need to be to support my glasses.” This fourth- grader’s remarkable insight into God’s providential care is something all our Catholic schools can appreciate, especially this coming Catholic Schools Week Jan.
Business has been extremely good. Building projects are numerous, diocesan-wide ACT test score averages are the highest they have been in the past five years, and enrollment in our schools has exceeded 15,000 students for the first time since 2008, to cite just a few of this year’s many accolades. Like master weavers, our school leaders across the diocese endeavor to blend the three dimensions of authentic Catholic school education — faith, academics and service — into a seamless garment to be proudly worn as one of the most effective school systems in Arizona.
We celebrate academic accomplishments, not only for success as measured by standardized assessments of student performance, but also for how well they develop the full human potential of each student. In this way, Catholic schools steer clear of certain reductionist trends in education these days that tend to view education more as a commodity designed to produce new workers for the job market.
Because Catholic schools are rooted in a Christian anthropology, they educate the whole student — spirit, mind and body. They do this by bringing Jesus Christ, the Master Teacher, into every aspect of the curriculum. Jesus is the means and model of all our educational endeavors, since it is in Him that all human potential finds its fulfillment.
Creating the conditions for students to encounter Jesus Christ, both personally and communally, is therefore the very highest priority of any truly Catholic school. They do this through the celebration of God’s love in word and sacrament, through catechesis faithful to Church teaching, and through a community spirit characterized by freedom and respect. This is all in keeping with the specific purpose of a Catholic education: to form students not only to lead successful, rewarding lives as contributing members of society, but also to be citizens of the world to come, to “walk with feet on earth, but with hearts in heaven” as St. John Bosco used to say. In other words, preparing students for eternal life, and not just final exams, is at the very heart of the Catholic school playbook.
This is also why we celebrate the many service opportunities Catholic schools provide. The Eucharist commits us to the poor, and our schools have the privilege of providing students with frequent and meaningful opportunities to express this commitment.
Our Catholic schools collectively dedicate thousands of hours each year to serving the needy. But it’s not about the numbers. It’s about giving students the opportunity to serve the poor, which in turn has the potential to light a fire that will burn in their hearts for the rest of their lives. St. Teresa of Calcutta’s beautiful comment, “Maybe, if I didn’t pick up that one person, I wouldn’t have picked up 42,000” is relevant here.
These are some of the reasons we celebrate the gift of our Catholic schools this Catholic Schools Week. They are certainly worth our continued support, our gratitude and our prayers. Please join us in the celebration!