Fruits of everyday lessons Print
Our Catholic Schools
Thursday, Jan. 28, 2010 -- 1:00 AM

Our Catholic Schools by Michael Lancaster

Every year beginning with the last Sunday in January Catholic schools across the nation celebrate Catholic Schools Week.

The week is a celebration of the work of Catholic schools and of their tremendous contribution to our communities, our Church, and our country. Unlike public or secular schools that educate children primarily to succeed in secular life, live as contributing citizens, participate in the democratic process, and prepare for college and work, Catholic schools educate the whole person, body, mind, and soul. Catholic schools prepare students not only for success in the secular world, but also to live as Christians who not only succeed in life, but who through their lives make the world a better place.

This year the theme of Catholic Schools Week is "Catholic Schools -- Dividends for Life: Faith, Knowledge, Discipline, Morals." These are the fruits of a Catholic school education.

At the core is Faith. It is the very reason why Catholic schools exist and it lies at the center of all they do. More than anything else, it is the mission of Catholic schools to instill the faith of Christ in students, parents, and the community.

This faith allows people to come to know Christ and place their trust in Him, so that even during the difficult and tumultuous times that life will surely bring, as evidenced by everything from the current state of the economy to the devastating earthquake in Haiti, they will place their faith in Christ who is with us always, and persevere.

The second dividend of Catholic schools is that of knowledge. This, as everything, is imparted through the lens of faith. Where public and secular schools impart knowledge for knowledge's sake and for the sake of gaining success in the world, Catholic schools impart knowledge of Christ, from whom all knowledge flows.

The knowledge students gain helps develop their God given talents and abilities, thus recognizing the great dignity that each of us shares as children of God. As students learn, the knowledge they acquire serves not only to prepare them to succeed in the world, but also gives them the knowledge of who they are and what they must do to make a difference in the world.

Discipline, the third dividend, is a key skill necessary not only for a successful life that embraces passions with moderation, but also allows for continual growth and self-denial in order to serve others. It is through discipline that we are able to serve others, to deny ourselves, and to take up our cross and follow Christ.

This brings us to the final dividend, morals. It is the inculcation of morals that gives direction to knowledge and discipline and allows us to use them to do that which is right and fitting rather than just that which serves only our own purposes. Morals help our students to make right decisions when confronted with everyday decisions or major dilemmas. The morals taught to children today lay the foundation for a just society tomorrow.

Faith, knowledge, discipline, and morals -- lessons taught every day in Catholic schools -- dividends for life.

Michael Lancaster is the superintendent of Catholic schools for the Diocese of Madison.