Sharing the faith is a special focus of Catholic Schools
Archbishop George J. Lucas, in his Page 2 Shepherd column, provides an excellent overview of Catholic education in the archdiocese, not just the numbers and programs, but the people, the dedication and the sacrifice involved to make Catholic education a reality.
As the archbishop notes, we all can take pride in the schools serving some 19,000 students in the archdiocese.
He closes with comments on what he believes should be at the heart of Catholic education – our faith, more specifically, the faith of the students.
Even with the archbishop’s comments, enough can’t be said about that part of Catholic education. Catholic schools can offer all types of programs, achieve all types of honors and develop great scholars, talented athletes, deep thinkers, creative writers and artists, dynamic speakers and more, but if all of that isn’t anchored in the faith, then it would seem we’re missing the point.
Catholic schools are challenged not only to produce talented, productive students, but young people of faith, young people who have or are on their way to having a personal relationship with Jesus.
Here in the archdiocese, we can be grateful that has been and continues to be the focus. But there’s always more opportunity, more ways to bring the faith to students, more ways to challenge them in their faith.
Why Catholic schools? It’s the faith. That’s what makes Catholic schools different. That’s what makes Catholic schools special.
Catholic Schools Week coverage in this special emphasis issue doesn’t focus on faith-related programs in a direct sense, but does look at how faith can be or is connected to a variety of other programs.
Stories report on the uses of technology, physical education, the Omaha Consortium and teachers and administrators taking Spanish classes in Catholic schools.
One other topic featured in our coverage deserves special mention: the performing arts – drama and music in the Catholic schools.
The arts often take a back seat – or no seat at all – in discussions, involvement and attendance. In this sports-dominated society, that’s perhaps not surprising.
But the folks involved in fine arts – in Catholic schools and in public schools – are trying to make their voices heard. They oppose any reductions in offerings, they cite studies of the correlation between fine arts involvement and academic success in other areas. And they speak up loud and often to defend and support the arts.
Looking back more than a few years, I remember one special "requirement" my wife and I placed on our four children in their journey through high school. We supported them in sports, which was a big part of their lives. But we also required involvement in the fine arts.
There was some kicking and screaming back then, as they took part in music of one type or another – marching band, concert band, jazz band, vocal music chorus and swing choir. Musical productions were an option chosen by two, piano by one, and another was involved in art.
Those futile objections raised all those years ago now have been transformed into the ultimate endorsement … our kids are getting their children involved in the arts – dancing, piano, band, theatre and more.
And they also are thanking us for that "requirement" – the gift of life skills. The sports they were involved in provide many memories, but the fine arts remain with them today.
As Catholic Schools Week is observed later this month, the arts might play a role in some celebrations – in artwork, in concerts and in talent shows … skills students are developing today that last a lifetime.
Deacon Randy Grosse is editor and general manager of the Catholic Voice. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.