Service: A hallmark of our faith and our schools Print
Thursday, Jan. 22, 2009 -- 1:00 AM

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Each year we set aside a week in late January to focus attention on and celebrate our Catholic schools. This year Catholic Schools Week runs from Sunday, Jan. 25, to Saturday, Jan. 31, with the theme, “Celebrate Service.”

Service lies close to the core of Catholic schools, and indeed our Catholic faith. Christ, through His service to the will of the Father, saved the world. It is this example of Christ, as servant, that we strive to emulate as Christians. As Christ exemplified when He washed the feet of the apostles, so too are we called to serve others. Service is a hallmark of our faith and our schools.

Catholic schools in the Diocese of Madison have a long history of service. They serve first and foremost to educate children in the Catholic faith. They do this not only by teaching religion, but by building true communities of faith and by integrating religion into all aspects of academics, education, and school life.

As they do this, they serve our parents and children by providing an excellent academic education. National studies have long documented the academic success of Catholic school students who consistently score higher than public school students on standardized assessments such as the SAT and ACT.

Now, recent studies have confirmed that Catholic school students are also more knowledgeable about their faith, more likely to attend Mass, and more likely to practice their faith in college and through their adult years than those not attending Catholic schools. In short, Catholic schools are a vital means of evangelization that enrich our parish communities, our diocese. and our Church as they bring children and families closer to Christ.

Catholic schools’ commitment to service is manifest not only in the lives of students and teachers, but in the belief that every child is a gift from God, deserving of love, respect, and an education of the whole person. Putting this belief into practice, Catholic schools serve children of all faiths, backgrounds, and economic means. Last year Catholic schools in the diocese awarded over $960,000 in financial aid to nearly 600 families.

Catholic schools not only serve our students, but they teach our students to serve. The most basic service comes to their classmates as they learn to treat one another with dignity and use their talents to glorify God. Whether it is participating in Mass, organizing a food drive, delivering meals to the elderly, raking leaves, shoveling walks, or simply holding open a door, our students learn to serve.

Indeed, not only do they have the wonderful example of their teachers, principals, and pastors, but the example of the countless parents and parishioners who serve by volunteering in so many capacities in our schools. Whether it is monitoring recess, preparing lunch, tutoring students, raising funds, or organizing events, our schools could not operate nearly as well without the hundreds of thousands of hours provided by volunteers. So as we celebrate the service of our schools to the community, so too do we celebrate with great gratitude the service of so many volunteers, coaches, teachers, aids, and all who work in Catholic schools.

We thank all those who serve our Church, our diocese, and our parishes by serving in Catholic schools. We celebrate your service and the great service the schools provide. May we all continue to seek ways to serve as Christ served, and through our service give glory to God.

Faithfully yours in Christ,

The Most Rev. Robert C. Morlino, Bishop of Madison