Every year at this time we unite with schools across the nation to celebrate Catholic Schools Week! These days are filled with joy, laughter, service, and prayer. Not unlike a lot of our school days, but this week we intentionally stop to celebrate all the blessings God has showered upon us. We will have themed days, praise and worship services, pancakes breakfasts, guest speakers, guest lunches, prayer services, Masses, rosaries, talent shows, and books fairs. We will collect everything from pennies to mittens to canned goods.
In a recent visit to a fifth-grade classroom at Christ the King School in Kansas City, Kansas, Archbishop Naumann spoke about vocations.
He asked the students to consider where God might be calling them, and got some enthusiastic responses: priest, swim coach, martial arts instructor, teacher.
In the course of the conversation, he found that one student had a very specific vocation in mind. A boy near the back of the classroom raised his hand eagerly and said, “I want to be the archbishop!”
This month marked a new experience for me as a Catholic Education Foundation board member. Through my involvement in CEF, I’ve toured numerous grade schools throughout the Archdiocese. The joy that these schools emanate is unmistakable. On top of the deep Catholic roots that are always evident, it is just a lot of fun to see young kids in their element playing, learning, feeling loved. As the father of a high schooler, I understand that while joy is still there, for teenagers, it is sometimes hiding under a candy-shell of hormone-induced nonchalance.
Years ago, my brother-in-law introduced me to the mission of the Catholic Education Foundation at a CEF Trivia Night. At the time, I had only been part of the Catholic Church for a few years. I did not grow up Catholic, nor did I attend Catholic schools. But when I heard about the graduation rates and college enrollment numbers for students at the CEF-supported high school, I was hooked. Those numbers were much higher than the other schools in the same zip codes.
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 6:34-35
I was recently moved by the simplicity of this command and especially in the context of the divided world we live in. Everywhere we turn, someone seems to be arguing for arguments sake alone. I suppose that as we examine history, we’d see that this has more often been the case than just recently.
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