Catholic Schools Week…Conclusion

02-04-2018From Our PastorFr. Brian Jazdzewski

Today is the conclusion of Catholic Schools Week 2018. We continue to be very mindful of the presence of Saint Boniface Catholic School; the only Catholic school in our county. We are also mindful of many of us who have been influence by Catholic schools at some point of our life. Often its Catholic school education which helped form a parent, grandparent or influential adult in our lives who, in turn, influenced us to take our role in the life of our Catholic Church. And so we continue to ask the question to ourselves personally and collectively about what we do to support Catholic schools locally and beyond.

In the midst of our current state of Catholicism in our region and nation, the conversation ought to be taking place about the present state and future sustainability of our Catholic schools as we know them. My experience with priests of our diocese (and beyond) along with conversations with Catholics in our area (and beyond) is, quite frankly, fear of the conversation. Somehow, when questions are raised about the state of our Catholic schools, the questions are equated with a desire to CLOSE them. Unfortunately, fear is where the enemy operates, but not our Lord. Jesus reminds us to "be not afraid."

On the one hand, there is substantial national research which supports the effectiveness of Catholic schools. People who have spent time being educated in a Catholic school are more likely to be involved in parish life, wherever they may live. On the other hand, empirical evidence illustrates how Catholic school graduates, from whichever level, are not involved in their parish. Further, some of these graduates with school-age children are not enrolling their children in Catholic schools. In some cases, these parents are also choosing not to enroll their children in faith formation in any church, at all. Consequently, these young people are not being evangelized through being introduced to Jesus.

In the present moment, some of us are not sure what all of this means. We are also convinced that a simple and easy solution is not likely. Consequently, we, Catholics, must be having the conversation about making changes for good or bad regarding our Catholic schools. Simply put, the conversation need to be held. These conversations on the local level are quite important. I can also tell you that conversations on the diocesan level have equal value. Unfortunately, under some circumstances, the conversations are feared because of the above cited reason…fear. The encouragement is to pray for the fear to dissipate so that we can make decisions in freedom of will which will glorify God. Decisions which will not only benefit the youth we teach, but also the parishes of which we claim membership.

When we really boil down our goal as Catholics, it's to evangelize. We build a relationship with Jesus so that we can individually and collectively help save our souls. Our Catholic schools exist to evangelize. Our religious education programs exist to evangelize. Our PCCW exists to evangelize. Our Knights of Columbus exist to evangelize. Our parish social/fundraising events exist to evangelize. I think you are getting my point. And, until we can re-place our emphasis on evangelization, we will labor in the fields of the Lord with a lot of our effort and seemingly little favor from God. Sure, God will bless all our efforts done in His good time. However, God will abundantly bless our efforts done according to His Will. So we continue to pray for metanoia, "change of heart" as we labor in the fields of the Lord that His Holy Spirit will continue to transform each of us to live in His image and likeness. And through that prayer and our cooperation with His will, we will do our part to renew the face of the earth.