This week marks the 44th anniversary of the celebration of Catholic Schools Week. It is the one week each year that we, as a Catholic community, showcase what truly makes our schools special. There is the perception that Catholic schools are “different.” This is the time to acknowledge and show the greater community that yes, we are different. We are a very good kind of different, and I believe that it is evident in the character of our students, who are raised knowing the love of Jesus Christ.
This “difference” has been demonstrated through action and service over the past months. Looking back, we can see the joy and excitement with which our school year started and the tests, trials and triumphs that we have experienced since then. I can discern the difference with pride and joy when I recall how our schools and students responded, giving freely of themselves to help our brothers and sisters in their times of crisis and natural disaster. The lines of eager, smiling faces as children loaded trucks with food, water, clothing, and blankets they had collected to send to the devastated areas hit by Hurricanes Harvey and Maria. The families that sought refuge within the Archdiocese of San Antonio experienced that difference as the schools, families, and communities opened their arms and hearts to provide a temporary place they could call home, receiving an abundance of support as they faced the challenges of rebuilding their lives. We feel the true presence of our living God when our communities and schools embrace each other in times of personal tragedy and loss.
Over the past months, we have seen that difference in the exuberance and love of our Catholic School community as we came together for celebrations and competitions, Run with a Mission, Assembly 2017, and all of our Thanksgiving and Christmas celebrations.
I am delighted that this week is an opportunity to show our larger community how Catholic schools make a difference and how Catholic schools truly are different. We will celebrate with masses, open houses and continuing to provide an education that embraces and forms the whole child; academically, physically, socially, and spiritually.
Pope Francis spoke of Catholic educators earlier this year on Vatican Radio: “You must not teach just content, but the values and customs of life. … [T]here are three things that you must transmit: how to love, how to understand which values and customs create harmony in society. … [Teachers] must aim to build an educational relationship with each student, who must feel welcomed and loved for what he or she is, with all of their limitations and potential.”
So yes, the rumors are true; Catholic schools are different. We invite you and our families to come take a fresh look at this “good” kind of different.
Please visit us online at www.archsa.org/schools to find a Catholic school near you!
Marti West is the Superintendent of Catholic Schools for the Archdiocese of San Antonio.