As I write this week, our elementary school children are heading back to school—some to our regional Catholic school and others to the various public schools in the area.
First of all, I ask parents with school-aged children to consider the possibility of a Catholic school education for their children. (I admit that I write with a certain bias towards a Catholic school education having attended Catholic schools for over 21 years and having been a teacher and/or administrator in Catholic schools for 20 years.) I am well aware that, unfortunately, not every family is able to afford the tuition associated with a Catholic school.
This being said, 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. The administration, teachers and staff of St. Joseph Regional Elementary School are working very hard to accomplish this task. Together with strong parental support the school is truly an extended family. I have witnessed our school community living out its faith, constantly improving its academic curriculum and developing new programs while it is experiences a strong interest by many families in our area. I thank Mr. Pugliese and the faculty and staff of our school for their dedication and fine work!
I have told prospective families for years now that our Catholic school students are our best advertisement. I encourage prospective families to pray about it, make an appointment to visit and see if a Catholic school may be the right fit for your child(ren). Yes, in a struggling economy the added expense of tuition is difficult. However, some tuition assistance may be available for needy families. Isn’t sacrifice usually a necessary part of obtaining something truly valuable?
Whether students attend our Catholic school or participate in our religious education program, my expectation is that they will attend Mass weekly. It is so important that faith is practiced continually, beginning with prayer and example in the home, aided by religious instruction both in the home and by our various religion teachers, and lived-out by worship at Mass each week. If students are supported by the example of loving parents who practice their faith, and students try to live out the teachings of their faith as articulated in the home, in their religion classes and from the pulpit, then I think that they will be as well-prepared as anyone to face the challenges, trials and tribulations that life may present.
My thanks to those parents who do their very best as the first teachers of their children in the ways of faith. I pray that you be the best teachers by word and example. You make many sacrifices for your children and their well-being. There is certainly no greater responsibility that we have for them than for their eternal salvation.
Fr. Ed Namiotka