When I was first asked to become a pastor back in 1996, I was very hesitant to do so. I had been a priest for about 9 years and loved being a priest. But I was afraid that becoming a pastor – and taking on all the administrative and managerial tasks that are part of running a parish – would give me less time for more spiritual parts of the priesthood that I enjoyed so very much.
Bishop Edward Hughes, of blessed memory, gave me some very good advice. He told me that the best way to avoid that was to make sure I kept doing the things I loved about being a priest. I knew that he meant what he said, because even when he was our bishop, he used to teach 8th grade religion at the cathedral's parish school.
Since, like Bishop Hughes, I always loved to teach about the Faith, I decided that – no matter how much else I had to do as a pastor – I would always make time to teach in my parish school and CCD Program. As most of you know, I currently enjoy teaching both 8th and 4th grade religion in our parish school each week, as well as 5th grade CCD.
Today we begin Catholic Schools Week in our country. It is a time to think about the role our Catholic Schools play in teaching the faith and many other things. The following facts come from Notre Dame University, which does a lot of excellent research about and support work for parish schools like our own:
Another contribution that our schools make to our society is subtle, but no less important. The existence of our Catholic Schools gives people an alternative choice for their children's education. History has shown us, time and again, that having a variety of good educational options is a great guardian of democracy and freedom, since it prevents any one person or group from having a monopoly on the formation of the next generation.
You can find more information about Catholic Schools Week elsewhere in this bulletin, and on the parish and school website. I know I'm looking forward to the celebrations, and to enjoying this week with our students, their dedicated teachers, and the hardworking administrators and school support staff. To them we all owe a great debt of thanks.
Please say a Hail Mary for me today, and every day – and have a great week!