January 27, 2010 // Local

Catholic Schools, Dividends for Life

Every year, at the end of January, Catholic schools across the nation and those in the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend celebrate Catholic Schools Week. This Sunday marks the beginning of the celebration. The theme of this year’s Catholic Schools Week is “Dividends for Life.”

Perhaps your parish school is celebrating with an open house, a festival, pizza night or special activities each day. All parishioners are encouraged to take time to explore what their parish or nearby Catholic school offers and to share that news with others. The sharing of this good news is evangelization.

Involvement by the entire community — both within the parish and even outside the community — is necessary to maintain the financial stability and vitality of the Catholic schools. And Catholic schools today require time, talent and treasure of many to succeed. Volunteers, who offer their time in the classroom or at special school events, are always necessary. Grants, parish collections, donations, fundraisers, as well as planned giving such as endowments, including the school in your will, are fast becoming parish financial strategies to help with tuition assistance or other school finances.
What makes Catholic schools different than public schools? Looking at the Catholic Schools Week logo, a cross is superimposed on an outstretched hand. Rays radiating from behind the hand express the concepts of faith, knowledge, morals and discipline — all beneficial aspects of a Catholic education.

In Catholic schools, students will meet Christ — not just in their studies and catechesis — but in the sacraments: Confession, the Eucharist — and in the preparation and formation to receive the sacraments such as Confirmation. They also meet Christ in the service projects, often an integral part of Catholic schools. This eight- or 12-year formation does not end upon graduation, but enhances what is taught in the home and sets the path for a lifetime journey with Christ through the Church.

According to Karen Ristau, president of the National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA), “Catholic schools provide good things for students and families — high expectations and the daily experience of faith. In these challenging times, the theme also reminds parents that the dividends of a Catholic school education — students prepared in faith, knowledge, morals and discipline — last a lifetime. There is no better way to invest in a child’s future — or the future of our world.”

And Marie Powell, executive director of the Secretariat of Catholic Education of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) noted: “We realize that in most parts of the country a Catholic education is not without some cost. But I can’t think of a better investment in the future than to invest in the education of a child.”

Looking at high schools, in Allen County, three secondary schools are rated exemplary by the state, and two of the three are the two Catholic high schools in the county: Bishop Dwenger and Bishop Luers.

Making an impact
Nearly 400,000 people took part in the 37th annual national March For Life in Washington, D.C., Jan. 22, including a large contingency from the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend. Both Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades and Bishop John M. D’Arcy attended the march during which Bishop D’Arcy was invited to lead the opening prayer.

The latest polls indicate some positives for the pro-life movement. Recent Gallup poll results show 51 percent of Americans to be pro-life on the abortion issue. A poll by the Knights of Columbus and Marists show a strong majority of Americans believe abortion to be morally wrong, including nearly six in 10 of young adults. The tide is turning, but we must continue to confront and challenge the forces of evil in the culture of death. Bishop Rhoades assured the diocesan contingency at St. Ann Church in Arlington, Va., Jan. 23 that “our strongest weapon in this battle for life is prayer.”

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