Back to School 2015

Appreciating the Value Of Catholic Education

By Arielle Kaminski

I have been serving the diocese as the marketing coordinator for Catholic schools and academies for the past three years. As we begin the new school year, I am sad that I will no longer be a part of the Diocese of Brooklyn. I am newly married and I will embark on a new adventure with my husband.

Our adventure, however, is blessed by the witness of Catholic education that I have seen here in Brooklyn and Queens. My adult life started here. Thanks to everything I have seen and been a part of in the Diocese of Brooklyn, I am a better person, a better Christian and a better Catholic.

Despite my work for Catholic education, I went to public school from kindergarten through high school. The education was not bad in itself, but its environment exposed me to a number of pressures that I should not have had to experience, especially as an adolescent. I also had a bit of a rough home life for a kid so I really never fully understood who I was, what I was doing or why I was anywhere at any point.

However, my understanding changed drastically in the eighth grade as I prepared for the Sacrament of Confirmation. Our parish youth minister reached the hearts of young Confirmation candidates with a simple demonstration: he poured different substances into a cup of clean water only to smash the cup onto the ground and declare “only Jesus can fill your cup!” He asked us why we tried to fill our souls with garbage, he filled another cup with clean water, and he began to tell us about God.

Not having received a Catholic education, that was the first time I was told and truly realized that there is a God who loves me – who made me. I learned that God loves me even though I am a sinner, and that He sent His son to die for me. I learned that when Christ rose, I received a new life. I learned that through Christ’s Church, I receive all that He has for me.

It dawned on me in that moment that if Christ is real, and is really actually with me in the Eucharist, then nothing else mattered. It didn’t matter that boys harassed me at school, or that my “friends” tried to force me to do things I didn’t want to do. It didn’t matter that my parents were fighting in court and in that moment, it didn’t matter that some of my closest loved ones were suffering in terrible ways. It only mattered that I was God’s beloved daughter. It only mattered that I did all that I could for God, and it only mattered that I trusted God would bless me in my decisions.

Since then, I’ve made a lot of decisions. One of the best ones was deciding to move here from central New Jersey to work for the Diocese of Brooklyn. Through this work, I have been blessed to visit many schools/academies and I believe that the students in Catholic schools/academies already know and understand what I didn’t at their age. They know that they are sons and daughters of the King. They already give their all to God, and in all their decisions, they already know He has a plan.

Catholic education is vital to the mission of the Church because it assists children to learn the truth of Christ through their daily academic studies. Personally, I have seen God work through Catholic education every day since I have been here.

I have seen parents sacrifice vacations and gadgets to send their children to Catholic school. I have seen parishioners and families share connections and values that have guided us for generations. I have seen whole communities come together to honor the memory of loved ones. I have seen children dance and grow with smiles on their faces.

I have seen board directors and members courageously steer Catholic academies to success. I have seen principals fearlessly lead teachers and students. I have seen students raise thousands of dollars to help others in need. I have seen the impact of organizations like Futures in Education, The Catholic Foundation, DeSales Media, the Tri-State Italian American Congress and the St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Trust.

I have seen commitment, dedication, perseverance, faith and joy in individuals. I have seen generosity and I have seen love. I have seen all of this, every day. Truly the people of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn are the People of God.

I especially thank Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio, Dr. Thomas Chadzutko and all of my colleagues for everything that they have provided for me. I thank them for their example, support and good will. Not only have I gained professional skills, but also they have taught me that I am capable of doing anything I set my mind to.

I wish the Diocese of Brooklyn continued success in furthering the mission of Catholic education. May my contributions grow as you have helped me to grow. May God bless each and every one of you. May you always know that you are His beloved children. May you always do the best you can, when you can, with what you have available. May you always know that God has a plan for you. Most importantly, may you always believe in Catholic education.