Saturday, January 29, 2011

Catholic education: Let it make you speechless

By Marybeth Finster

Marybeth FinsterMaybe your story is like mine. Maybe you’re a product of some or all of your education in a Catholic school. Maybe you left that environment and entered the world as a young adult and faith was something that was more of your family’s tradition than your own. Maybe you knew more about the latest in rock music than the encyclicals of John Paul II.

Maybe you were left speechless when someone you met asked you to explain why you worshiped Mary and statues.

Maybe once again you were left speechless when your child asked you to pray the rosary but they taught you because you couldn’t quite remember how it went.

If this sounds a little familiar to a cradle Catholics raising a family today then you are not alone. That is why Catholic education is not only critical but an urgent message for the survival of our community and our Universal Church as a whole.

Catholic education is not just the responsibility of those parents sending their children to a Catholic school but the whole community. The statistics of success of those attending Catholic schools is unquestionable. Graduates of Catholic schools go on to not only be lifelong practitioners of their faith but are and will continue to be the leaders of today and tomorrow in every aspect of society.

Research shows that “when a Catholic school is done in an environment replete with moral values and the practice of the faith, its test scores and achievements outstrip public school counterparts,” says Helen Marks in her essay “Perspectives on Catholic Schools,”

But Catholic schools do more than provide a high quality education. A Catholic school integrates every aspect of faith life throughout the school day. It provides an intimate partnership with the Domestic Church, the home. It is not just a faucet that is turned on for an hour or so on Sunday but a slow steady trickle that brings forth waters of new life both academically and spiritually for child and parent.

It is a place where a child is handed down the deposit of faith and it becomes embedded as not only a tradition (small “t”) but a deeply rooted understanding of the bigger Tradition (big “T”). It is a place that not only catechizes but evangelizes and sends forth intellectually prepared members of society who care about how to give back not just what they can be given.

Yes, it is an environment that has left me speechless as a parent. Speechless, as I watch the children sit reverently during school Mass.

Speechless, as I watch their music glorify God’s kingdom with the Auf de Kampes and Miss Becky. Speechless, as I watch them in a circle following a game with Coach.

Speechless, as I watch the children run to adoration.

Speechless, as I watch them in the Parish Center with Miss Wostbrock and all our dedicated, incredible teachers announce achievements of our students or talk about the saint of the day.

Speechless, as I ponder the blessings of having this parish community as a whole and the effects it has had on my entire family.

Speechless that I can now explain to a stranger why we give honor and not worship the Mother of our Lord.

Speechless, that I am more excited about the upcoming beatification of John Paul II than the next Bruce Springsteen concert.

Just speechless!

For more information on the benefits of Catholic Education , check out this week’s issue of Our Sunday Visitor. If your are interested in helping make Catholic education affordable to all, see The Catholic Foundation. Give the first of our fruit back to God … Give to the Evangelization of Education.

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