The importance and beauty of Catholic schools: A homily for the 4th Sunday of Ordinary Time (A)

Catholic School Kids Mass at Sacred Heart CathedralToday we celebrate the first day of Catholic Schools Week.  I’d like to offer a few reasons that we have our beautiful schools–why they are so important, why we encourage them as we do, why so many parents sacrifice so much to send their children to them, and why so many faculty sacrifice so much to teach at them when they could get a lot more money someplace else.

  1. We have Catholic schools because they are a constitutive part of the Body of Christ on earth.  You see–in the bible, we always see Jesus teaching. Folks–Jesus still lives, and his body is the Church!   He teaches, heals, forgives…all through his body. And one of the most powerful, most important ways Jesus continues to teach is through the Church’s parochial schools. We are blessed to have many Catholic schools in our diocese and a beautiful school here in this parish. We are not a parish and a school. We are a parish with a school, and the school is perhaps our most important ministry.
  2. We also have Catholic schools to get kids to heaven!  St John Bosco, whose feast day is Tuesday, said that schools don’t exist as ends in themselves; they exist to get kids to heaven! Our first reading begins today, we humans are meant to “seek the Lord.” This is why we have a school! It is to teach our children, each day, to look for God, to follow God, to want God….and so to become saints. I see this desire in the hearts of our kids. Last week two kids asked for confession in the cafeteria. Another showed me a picture she made of Jesus. Another told me he taught his neighbor the ten commandments. Every day the kids almost fight to see who gets to lead the Angelus.  We pray the Divine Office, the rosary, the chaplet. There is an enthusiasm for God in our school, an atmosphere of faith and love. What a joy to grow up in this atmosphere, in the Church!  If we give them Christ, we have given them everything!  I doubt I’d be a priest had I not gone to Catholic schools. I am thankful to my parents.  Interestingly, 100% of the ArchIndy priests OLG has produced…went to our school.  Catholic schools make a big difference in the lives of children, families, the Church and the world!
  3. We have Catholic schools because kids matter to God. We hear St. Paul talk about “those who count for nothing.”  In the eyes of the world, children aren’t always valued as they ought to be.  Jesus loves them and says, “Come to me!”
  4. We have Catholic schools because countless saints gave their lives for them. I already mentioned St. John Bosco, but there are so many others….like St. Mother Theodore Guerin and St. Elizabeth Anne Seton. Last week we welcomed a Sister of Providence, Sr. Marcy, to our school. She is 101 years old. It is thanks to her and her sisters that our school is here. So many have given their lives for our schools. Thanks be to God they did.

We have a beautiful legacy, a beautiful story. It is still being written. On behalf of Msgr. Mark, I want to thank all the parish for your support of our school.  It is not just “another school”; it’s part of the body of Christ that is the Church, that is this parish. Thanks to the faculty and staff for all you do. You are second to none and the hearts you have for God and the children–it’s amazing. Thank you to the parents. You sacrifice a lot, I know. But it’s worth every penny. You are the first teachers of the fatih for your kids; we thank you for using that high office to entrust your children to the Church’s school. Most of all, thanks to the students. You have no idea how much you are loved and what a joy it is for me to know you and see you each day in the school. May God bless our school, now and always.