Striving for holiness, gift of faith Print
Our Catholic Schools
Wednesday, Aug. 15, 2012 -- 12:00 AM

Our Catholic Schools, by Michael Lancaster

As we prepare to begin another school year, I often reflect on how blessed we in this diocese are, blessed with over 40 Catholic elementary schools, well over twice the average number of Catholic schools found in dioceses of similar size.

These schools are treasures, pearls of faith, hope, love, and knowledge shining brightly for our parishes, our communities, and our Church.

Each year, as part of the accreditation process, select schools undertake a rigorous and thorough self-study which begins by recounting the school’s mission and history. As I read these accounts, I am often struck by the tremendous sacrifice, sense of mission, and the enormous faith of those who built the schools and churches.

They recognized that faith is a precious gift, and they sought to pass it onto their children by all possible means. This great desire led to the need for schools where the children could learn their catechism, and develop their God given skills that they might know Christ, follow His call, and serve Him through their service to community and country. So the schools were built, regardless of the effort or personal sacrifice required.

As I read the accounts of these times, what is most striking is not the challenges that were overcome or the sacrifices that were made. No. What is most striking is the unshakable faith of the people and their absolute conviction that the Catholic schools would provide what no other school could, something so precious, so vital, so integral to life on earth and life everlasting, that it was worth everything. They had found “a pearl of great price” for which they would give everything (Mt. 13:45-46).

These are the treasures, the pearls that have been handed down to us — and all of us have been entrusted with the task of guarding them, maintaining them in prime condition, and ensuring their existence.

We at the Office of Catholic Schools recognize the sacred nature of this task and have been working to assist schools to ensure that they perform at the highest levels to provide an unparalleled faith formation and education that prepares students for continued scholastic studies and lives that strive as much for holiness as worldly success.

New catechetical standards

Toward this end, we are most excited about Bishop Morlino’s recent promulgation of the new Catechetical Standards which will be used in schools, grades PK-8, starting this year. In addition, the new school year brings new academic standards and benchmarks in grades K-8 for all core subject areas.

These new standards will strengthen our Catholic schools’ legacy of excellence in both faith formation and academic knowledge. These standards are the result of two years and thousands of hours of work by our teachers, principals, pastors, and colleagues. They represent a renewal of our commitment and a redoubling of our effort to our Catholic mission.

As we implement the new standards, we recommit ourselves not only to our Catholic schools, but to the very faith that is the reason for their existence, the faith we share with millions across the globe, the faith we share with those steadfast men and women who built so many of our schools so many years ago. We, as they, know that our schools and the faith they pass on are truly pearls of great price.

As always, thank you for reading and may God continue to bless you and your families.

Note: All catechetical and academic standards may be found online at:

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