Lifting up contribution of Catholic education Print
Bishop Hying's Column
Thursday, Jan. 30, 2020 -- 12:00 AM

We celebrate Catholic Schools Week in this last week of January with special Masses, fun activities, and service events in all of our schools.

This week lifts up the invaluable contribution of Catholic education to the lives of our young people and children, as they are formed to know Jesus, love Him, and serve Him as Catholic disciples of the Gospel.

I profoundly thank Dr. Michael Lancaster and everyone in our diocesan Schools Office, our principals, teachers, staff, students, and parents for the dedication, generosity, leadership, and service they offer to help our schools flourish and our children to realize their full potential as beloved children of God.

Bishop Donald J. Hying's column
Impressed and inspired by quality of our schools

I have visited many of our schools, celebrating Mass, visiting the classrooms, talking to our principals and teachers, and meeting parents. I am both impressed and inspired by the quality of our schools, from the big ones to the little ones.

In various studies, graduates of Catholic schools consistently attend Mass more frequently, are more involved in the life of the Church, contribute time and money to good causes, and are more successful in their careers than those who did not attend a Catholic school.

Obviously, examples abound of Catholics who benefited from religious education or were home-schooled, who also are faithful, successful, and fruitful in their lives.

Affirm parents as primary catechists of their children

I particularly wish to applaud, affirm, and support Catholic parents in their essential role as the primary catechists of their children. Think about the beautiful truth that God has entrusted these precious and beautiful souls to your care!

With God's help, you have co-created new human lives, and your greatest privilege and responsibility is to form them in their deepest identity as children of God and to lead them to heaven.

The Church wants to help you in this essential and vital mission! You live the mystery and beauty of the domestic Church in the sanctity of your family and the warmth of your home.

What we do in our schools and religious education programs can only supplement what spiritually occurs in the family and home; it cannot replace it. When parents worship God at Mass together with their children every Sunday, pray together at home, actively participate in the life of their parish, utilize sacramentals, such as holy pictures and holy water, and actively live the Catholic faith, children will naturally grow to know, love, and serve God with Jesus Christ at the center.

Catholic education should be backed up at home

One of the biggest challenges I experienced as a parish priest and pastor was the fact that a significant number of the school and religious education families did not come to Mass or participate in the parish in any meaningful way. In the celebration on First Communion or Confirmation, I would regularly see people that I had never seen before.

I was encouraged by the fact that these parents wanted their children to experience Catholic education, but I questioned the impact of their formation long-term because it was not being backed up at home.

Our educational programs can hit all the right notes, but if parents are not consistently showing a fundamental commitment to the practice of the faith, the lasting message their children receive is that none of this is really that important after all.

Launch renewed effort to evangelize in diocese

How we can engage, support, and animate every Catholic family to prioritize the practice of the faith is a worthy effort for our diocese to embrace. As we look towards our 75th anniversary of the Diocese of Madison in 2021, I hope we can launch a renewed effort to evangelize, to proclaim the Gospel, to share the enormous saving power of Jesus Christ, crucified and risen!

In a very central fashion, the family plays an irreplaceable role in this renewal of faith and revitalization of the Church. I profoundly thank our parents, families, young people, and children who heroically live the Catholic faith in every parish, neighborhood, and corner of our wonderful diocese.

I am so impressed by the holiness, fidelity, and goodness of so many of our families! It is truly a wonderful gift to behold. How can we be even more open to the Holy Spirit in this great endeavor of evangelization which is the purpose and mission of the Church? I ask everyone, especially me, to pray about and ponder this question.

We lift up in prayer, hope, and love our greatest treasure -- our beloved children. May they always be holy, healthy, and happy, formed to live out their identity as children of God and to fulfill their unique and wondrous vocation. Happy Catholic Schools Week!