Today, I look back on the move to St. James School as one of the best things that ever happened to me. Certainly my education had gotten off to a good start at Kelly School, but the Catholic school offered a dimension of faith that made a real difference. The faculty and staff – including the parish priests – saw us students as children of God, and that attitude was apparent in the gentle yet challenging way in which they helped us grow to maturity. By the end of my first year there, I was starting to talk about someday becoming a priest, and I now thank God for the encouragement that I received from the adults and from my classmates.
This week, we celebrate Catholic Schools Week. Among the blessings for which I am most thankful is that I have been deeply involved with Catholic schools my entire priesthood. I can now see more clearly what a blessing a Catholic education is to the children. Our school is top notch academically, yet its greatest benefit is the ability to support the parents in bringing their children up with solid Catholic values. I can honestly say that St. Malachy is as good as any school that I have been involved with.
Yet even as I appreciate the blessings that the school brings to the students, I have come to appreciate even more the blessings that the school brings to the parish. In the school, we have a committed and involved group of families who truly help to build this parish into a community, and we have the greatest group of kids anywhere. Our school brings vitality and excitement to St. Malachy that cannot be matched by any other parish activity. There have been times when, after dealing with some serious pastoral issue, I have cleared my head by visiting the classrooms. I never walk out of a school visit without a smile on my face.
We celebrate Catholic Schools Week beginning with the 11:00 Mass this Sunday and concluding with the 4:00 Mass next Saturday evening. This is my opportunity to thank Mrs. Janet Escovitz, our principal, and all the faculty, staff, parents and students that make this school a fantastic place to be. Let’s keep it going for many, many years to come.