I recently read a column in one of the New York newspapers about the state of history in some of our nation’s schools. The columnist had interviewed a number of parents who complained that their grade school children knew very little about history in general and US History in particular. One of them even said that his daughter knew about George Washington “only because she’s heard the soundtrack of the musical Hamilton.”
As I read, I was happy to know that the situation is very different in our parish elementary school. Every year, the eighth graders in our school participate in the National History Day competition. The students are asked to research and do a project on a specific topic. For the past several years some of our students went all the way to the state and National finals. This year’s topic is ‘Debate and Diplomacy in History’ – a good topic for our times!
Today we begin Catholic Schools Week, a time to celebrate the contributions our Catholic Schools have made to our children, Church, and society. Our own parish school has been a vital part of our parish since 1875. In addition to fine academic programs like National History Day, the students learn in a faith filled environment.
Daily Religion classes are just the beginning of this. Our students learn their faith by living it each school day. They learn to pray quietly by attending Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament each month. They go to Confession monthly, too. Each day begins with prayer, and prayers are said before and after lunch, reminding our students to be grateful to God for all they receive. They learn to practice Christian Charity through activities that allow them to serve others, especially the poor.
I have a list of my favorite things about our school. One is saying School Masses. Seeing all those young people pray and celebrate Mass is very uplifting to me. Another is teaching religion once a week to the 8th and 4th grade. Still another is getting to know so many of the young members of our parish so well by eating with them in the lunchroom, greeting them when they arrive in the morning, and just having them walk up and begin talking with me when I’m at the school.
This Thursday, February 3rd, is the Feast of St. Blasé, the day when it is customary for Catholics to have their throats blessed. This blessing is a prayer asking God to protect us from illness and evil. Throats will be blessed at the 6:45 & 8am and the 12:10pm Masses that day, and at a brief Prayer Service in the Church at 7 PM. If none of those times work for you, give me a call and we’ll find a time to bless your throat.
Please say a Hail Mary for me today, and every day this week. Please also pray for our second grade school and CCD students, who will make their First Penance on Saturday. May this important step on their way to First Holy Communion help them build a wonderful friendship with Jesus.
Have a great week!