Updated: Nov 24, 2021
I have been blessed with a spiritual, academic and human formation which is a product of Catholic education. From the first days of the first grade, I remember how God became present and active in my life through new friendships, dedicated teachers and communal prayer. From the youngest to oldest students, through each grade, we were taught to view all persons as created in the image and likeness of God and to challenge ourselves to fulfill our potential according to that vision. Prayer, study and service were woven together in community around liturgy, academics, arts and sports.
"Prayer, study and service were woven together in community around liturgy, academics, arts and sports."
The year prior to my entry into the seminary, I was assigned to one year of pastoral, vocational discernment in a large parish in Fort Worth, Texas. This assignment included participation with teachers, parents and students at the Catholic school, dedicated to St. John the Apostle -- the patron saint of the parish. As successful as this large parish was at the time, with some 4,200 parishioners and 85 standing committees in operation, the pastor impressed upon me that, "No matter what other energy we put into our community, the one ministry that makes the biggest difference long term, to families and society, are our Catholic schools!"
Catholic education has always been at the heart of the Catholic Mission. Our Catholic education and the students who are its products, have indeed been called our greatest work. Graduates have learned to examine their choices in light of the Ten Commandments and the teachings of the Law of Love of Jesus Christ. Charged with the mission of evangelization, they go out into the world and share their gifts with confidence. Our students are successful in the professional arena precisely because they learn that they are, in fact, "their brother's keeper!"
"Our Catholic education and the students who are its products, have indeed been called our greatest work."
After a year of COVID restrictions and with hope for the year ahead, our students now enter a new school year. While public schools were not able to offer in-class learning this past year, our diocesan Catholic schools kept it going with Mass, Sacraments and liturgical observances of Advent, Christmas, Lent and Easter. They prayed rosaries, went on field trips, accomplished art and science projects and celebrated awards ceremonies!
Our principals, teachers, students and parents deserve our appreciation for keeping the Catholic school doors open through this past year. Praying for all students everywhere through these difficult times, we pray especially that the Light of Christ be nurtured and strengthened through our Catholic education system. This is a mission worthy of our prayerful support, for Catholic schools truly make a difference!
"This is a mission worthy of our prayerful support, for Catholic schools truly make a difference!"
Sincerely in Christ,
+Bishop Stephen J. Berg