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A message from Bishop David M. O'Connell, C.M.
Return to school invites us to begin God’s work anew
It’s not all that easy to find something that most people agree with, most of the time. But when it comes to the final weeks of summer vacation and the prospect of returning to school, most people, with rare exception, agree – they aren’t ready. They need a few more weeks of warm weather and lazy days; swimming, hiking and sightseeing, extra time to be with friends and family, and most especially … more time with no homework. This is a feeling shared by children and their parents … because as often is the case, the school year can be almost as challenging for parents as it is for children.
No matter how much we may resist, no matter how vivid our dreams of an extended summer may be … the new school year will arrive, right on time. And with it, all of the challenges, responsibilities and demands that face school families.
It’s understandable that we may be reluctant to go back to school. But here is something to consider that may change the way we look at this – students, educators and parents alike. The return to school is the opening of a fresh opportunity to serve the Lord and do his work; to make a difference in the world through the light of our faith.
We know that when teachers teach, and students learn, good things happen. That includes lessons about faith which help students grow to be true disciples of Christ, and those that open up the worlds of science, math, technology, literature and the arts. Any student or teacher that works hard to achieve their goals, that strives to impact others positively, draw ever closer to Christ, whether they be in Catholic or public school. Every parent that guides and supports his children, while fostering respect of teachers and peers, truly does God’s work.
Students in the Catholic community, whether in school or parish religious education, are richly blessed by the school experience, where they can receive some of the most important lessons of their lives. They learn that everything they have and learn is a gift from God. They learn about our Catholic religion and what the Bible and our Church teaches. They learn how to pray. They learn that we are all created by God and that makes us look at our lives, our families, our friends, our studies, our talents differently. They learn the difference between right and wrong and why. They learn that Jesus invites us to live a life of love and helping others because that’s what he did, that’s what he wants for us.
Let us offer a prayer of thanks to God for our Catholic schools and all that they do for us, and for our parishes, who reach so many Catholic students through religious education programs. Let us offer a prayer of thanks for all who support our students as they return to school – parents, principals, teachers and staff, pastors and priests, catechetical leaders and catechists, and the countless parishioners who all play a role as our students strive to make the most of the coming school year. And finally, let us pray for our students, that they realize what God is calling them to and make a commitment to live up to that calling.
Most Reverend David M. O’Connell, C.M., J.C.D.,
Bishop of Trenton
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Too often our schools are “Best Kept Secrets” in which the value that they bring is known only to the families whose students are already enrolled. We aim to change that.
Just for starters, here are some things you should know…
Across Burlington, Mercer, Monmouth and Ocean Counties, there are nearly 17,000 students in Catholic schools sponsored by their local parishes or by the Diocese of Trenton. These schools are strong and vibrant — many are well enrolled; some with waiting lists for certain grades.
Our schools continue to distinguish themselves as places of extraordinary academic advancement; robust science and technology resources, and the best in athletic development and competition, all the while forming young Catholics in their faith and providing opportunities for them to put this faith into action. Our schools provide an educational experience that can be found in no other setting.
We encourage members of the Catholic community to get the good news of Catholic schools by exploring one near you, and to stay connected with this website. Here, we will share new information and resources about our schools on a regular basis.