Welcome to the Good News About Catholic Schools
A Message from Bishop David M. O'Connell, C.M.
Catholic schools: A choice for more
When a child is baptized in the Catholic Church, his/her parents make promises to help their child grow in the Church’s faith. Parents are their “first teachers,” their “first preachers” of the faith and, as a result, the family home becomes the “first Catholic school” and a “domestic Church.”
Without their direct and active involvement in their child’s faith formation, however, faith doesn’t happen, it won’t happen. Simple things like teaching and “hearing” a child’s prayers, telling Bible stories, taking a child to Church, showing a child the difference between right and wrong, giving good example, treating people with respect and charity and so on, these are all part of Catholic parents’ primary responsibilities to their baptized Catholic children
What if parents don’t exercise their faith responsibilities for whatever reason? What happens to the faith of their baptized child? The answer is simple: nothing. Bringing a child into the Catholic Church in Baptism without making him/her welcome, at home, familiar with the Church —- at least on a level appropriate to a child —- make him/her a stranger to and within the community that is home to the Catholic faith.
Thank God for Catholic schools! (Thank God, also, for Catholic religious education programs in our parishes!) Although nothing can substitute for parents’ active witness to the faith in the Catholic home, Catholic schools should be an extension of the Catholic home and faith, building on its foundation or, more often than ever before, becoming a first foundation where it does not yet exist.
In either case, Catholic schools are or should be partners to Catholic parents forming and engaging their children in Catholic faith, along with other subjects as well. The goal is to help children become good Catholics, with knowledge of their faith, exposure to prayer and the sacraments, becoming part of their parish church community and the experience of living and relating to others —adults and peers alike — with respect and charity. These are all things taught in Catholic schools, their religion curriculum. And children live what they learn.