We have just finished our celebration of Catholic Schools Week.
I write this weekend to share with you my belief in the importance and value of our Catholic Schools. Although this letter is addressed to all parishioners, I particularly hope that those of you who are parents of school-aged children might rethink the possibility of a Catholic school for your children. I admit that I write with a certain bias towards a Catholic school education having attended Catholic schools for over 21 years (from kindergarten through seminary and graduate school.) Subsequently, I have been a teacher and/or administrator in Catholic schools for 19 additional years. I value each of these 40 years and hope to have many more working for and with Catholic Schools.
What does a Catholic school have to offer? The simple answer is the integration of faith, morals and the love of Jesus Christ as part of the life of the school. If this is not the top priority of any particular Catholic school, then I will be the first in line to see it close. Catholic schools need to be more than just academically sound but also truly Catholic.
On the elementary level, the administration, teachers and staff of Notre Dame Regional School are working very hard to accomplish this task. Together with strong parental support the school is an extended family. I have witnessed the school community living out its faith, constantly improving its academic curriculum and developing new programs while it is experiencing a renewed, strong interest by many families in our area. I am very proud to be the Pastor and partner of this wonderful, truly Catholic school.
We are fortunate to have three Catholic high schools in our immediate vicinity: Sacred Heart, Our Lady of Mercy and St. Augustine. I am personally responsible for the diocesan-sponsored school which is Sacred Heart and I will speak on its behalf. The other two schools are sponsored by religious communities.
Sacred Heart is my pride and joy. From the first day I stepped foot into the building I noticed an atmosphere where people cared about each other and they seemed to me to put their faith into practice. The academic programs regularly see students admitted into the finest colleges and universities in the country, the sports programs are always competitive and the various clubs, activities and community involvement help to develop the students into well-rounded persons of character. When we hold an open-house for perspective students at Sacred Heart, I usually tell parents that our students are our best advertisement.
No Catholic school is perfect because they are made up of imperfect human beings. Yet, if the students are supported by loving parents who practice their faith and the students try to live out the teachings of their faith as articulated every day in the classroom, then I think that Catholic school graduates are as well-prepared as anyone to face the challenges, trials and tribulations that life may present. I encourage families who have not seriously considered a Catholic school to pray about it, make an appointment to visit one and see if it may be the right fit for your child(ren). Yes, in a poor economy the added expense of tuition is difficult. However, tuition assistance may be available for needy families. Isn’t sacrifice usually a necessary part of obtaining something truly valuable? There is no better short or long term investment you can make than in the education of your children.
My thanks to those parents who currently make the sacrifice to send your children to a Catholic school and to those who take the time to consider one!
Fr. Ed Namiotka
Fr. Ed Namiotka