In the early years of the Peanuts comic strip, there Charlie Brown decided that he wanted to quit school. “After all,” he argued, “I want to be a baseball manager when I grow up. Why should I have to go to school?” Lucy reminded him that a baseball manager needs arithmetic, or else he wouldn’t even know if he had enough players on the field. So Charlie Brown decided he would remain in school until he learned to count to nine, and then he would quit.
A good education involves more than just learning certain facts. Education affects every aspect of our lives. That, in fact, is one of the main reasons why we celebrate our annual Catholic Schools Week this week. We want the world to know that we offer an excellent education, not only in academics but also nourishing the spiritual, physical and social lives of our students.
Perhaps the big difference is in how we see our purpose. Many see the purpose of education as training to get a good job. If you want to be a doctor, you focus on science and related fields. Subjects such as literature and philosophy would not have much to offer. On the other hand, we see our mission as the formation of the human person for life as a Catholic and, ultimately, to share the eternal glory of Christ in heaven. We try to emphasize everything that helps the students to become the best people that they can be and to live as the children of God. We see our role as supporting the parents, to whom the liturgy of Baptism refers as the “first and best teachers of their children in the way of faith.”
With that end in mind, I take this opportunity to thank everyone associated with our school. Our new – yet very experienced – principal, Mrs. Cathy Militzer, has really settled in and shown wonderful leadership. Our teachers are one of the most talented and dedicated groups I have ever worked with in my years with Catholic schools. The support staff and the volunteers are incredibly helpful. And of course the students themselves are delightful. I have always said that whenever I have a bad day, I can find an extra smile just by walking over to the school and seeing what the children are doing in class. So I pray that this Catholic Schools Week helps us to come to a deeper appreciation for the wonderful treasure that is St. Malachy School.
On a somewhat related note, we hope that we never stop learning. So this past week I went back to school in a sense. I am taking part in the “Priest Leadership and Evangelization Collaborative,” a workshop that the Diocese is offering to all priests as part of “On Mission for the Church Alive.” As you saw from the models presented, the new parishes in the diocese will be rather more complex than we are used to. The diocese is offering this program to help priests prepare for the new configuration. So please bear with me as I may have to adjust my schedule a bit over the next few months. From what I can see, I believe it will be truly worthwhile.