Teaching through examples of faith, knowledge, and service Print
Our Catholic Schools
Written by Michael Lancaster, For the Catholic Herald   
Thursday, Jan. 23, 2014 -- 12:00 AM
Kindergarten and fourth grade students at All Saints Catholic School in Berlin prepare for Catholic Schools Week (CSW) by coloring the CSW logo for hallway decorations. Catholic schools throughout the Diocese of Madison will be observing Catholic Schools Week from January 26 to February 1 with a variety of activities highlighting the theme, “Catholic Schools: Communities of Faith, Knowledge, and Service.” (Contributed photo)

MADISON --Communities of “faith, knowledge, and service.” This is a wonderful description of Catholic schools. for these three aspects lie at the heart of every Catholic school.

Christ is the center

First among these is faith. Christ is the center and focus of each and every Catholic school. As our late Pope John Paul II wrote, “Catholic education is above all a question of communicating Christ, of helping to form Christ in the lives of others.”

This is the primary goal of all Catholic schools: to form students in faith that they may come to know and love Christ.

As students come to know Christ, they travel a lifelong journey of learning what it means to be fully human in the example of Christ.

Forming the whole person

As we are created with many attributes, skills, talents, and faculties, Catholic schools seek to develop all of these by educating not only the heart, but the mind and body as well — by forming the whole person.

Every day, dedicated teachers help students develop their intellect and reasoning, challenging them to ask questions, seek answers, and learn the whole truth about themselves and their world in all its glorious detail. This quest for truth through knowledge is the second pillar of Catholic schools.

Serving one another

The first two pillars, faith and knowledge, are put into action through the third pillar, service.

Students in Catholic schools learn to value others and to serve them. Whether through opportunities for service in the community, or service to their fellow students each day, our students strive to live the Gospel, to be Christ for others, building His kingdom on earth through serving one another.

This ideal was addressed by Pope Francis as he explained “magnanimity” to a group of school children saying, “What does being magnanimous mean? It means having a great heart, having greatness of mind; it means having great ideals, the wish to do great things to respond to what God asks of us.

“Hence also, for this very reason, to do well the routine things of every day and all the daily actions, tasks, meetings with people; doing the little everyday things with a great heart open to God and to others.”

This is what Catholic schools seek to instill in students, a greatness of heart and mind expressed in service.

These are the pillars of Catholic schools: to form students in faith, to help students grow in knowledge, and to teach the students to love God so they may serve Him through service to others.

Visit our schools

During this week of celebrating Catholic schools and in the weeks after, I invite you to visit our Catholic schools and witness places where students, teachers, parents, and parishioners come together with each other and with Christ in communities of faith, knowledge, and service.

May God bless all of you and your families, and may we all continue to grow as a community of faith, knowledge, and service united in Christ.

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