Catholic schools are different where it counts Print
Seeing with Jesus' Eyes

In 1974, Catholic Schools Week was established as the annual celebration of Catholic education in the United States. This year it occurs from January 27 to February 2. Its theme is "Catholic Schools: Learn. Serve. Lead. Succeed."

Catholic schools usually celebrate this week with Masses, open houses, and other activities for students, families, parishioners, and community members. Through these events, schools focus upon values that Catholic education provides to young people, families, church, communities, nation, and others.

Jesus is main teacher

Jesus is the main teacher in Catholic schools, where students learn about Jesus and his teachings. His message is not just a set of intellectual propositions or truths, but a way of life.

Catholic schools educate the whole person: academically, spiritually, physically, and emotionally. Students are taught to serve family, community, and world in Christ-like ways and make the world a better place.

For years, American Catholics have supported Catholic schools because they believed Catholic schools are different where it counts.

Years ago, I read a brochure from a Catholic school which emphasized the quality education the school offered. I thought that was great, but I wondered why it mentioned little or nothing about heaven, which should be Catholics' ultimate goal. I don't think this would happen today.

Learning virtues

Catholic students learn honesty, discipline, values, integrity, and other virtues. They are taught to treat everyone respectfully as unique persons created in God's image. They learn morals that will help them meet life's challenges.

Catholic school students and faculty pray and participate in Mass and receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Inspirational words and images such as crucifixes, saints, and pictures of Jesus are present throughout Catholic schools as reminders of the importance of Jesus and his message.

Students more active in their faith

Studies conducted by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) at Georgetown University show that among millennials, those who attended Catholic schools are three times more likely to consider a priestly vocation and women are twice as likely to consider entering Religious Life. Catholic school students are also over six times more likely to attend Mass weekly, participate in their parish, volunteer, and tithe.

As a teenager I helped pay my tuition and that of my brothers and sisters to attend Catholic high schools, because my parents believed they were different where it counts. On leave from the Navy, I helped build Kieler's Catholic school and donated my week's wages towards its cost.

During my 20 years on the faculty at Beloit Catholic High, I concluded that a fruitful Catholic school is one of God's dreams. Through God's grace, this dream can come true when the wider Catholic community of parents, teachers, students, and others do their part to support Catholic schools.

Fr. Donald Lange is a pastor emeritus in the Diocese of Madison.