Put Out into the Deep

Beacons of Light in Today’s Secular World

“What both students, and all students, are saying is that they miss the classroom learning environment,” Bishop DiMarzio said. (File photo)

My dear brothers and sisters in the Lord,

As we all know, the summer of 2020 has been a summer like no other. For many, there have been limited vacations, occasional trips to the beach, or park due to the reduction of available space and different types of celebrations for graduation, the Fourth of July, and soon Labor Day. We have definitely been tested, not only this summer but also since mid-March 2020.

Everyone is stressed out, concerned about the future, and weary about the constant unknown. But through all the trials of life that we have faced these past five months, one thing is for certain, our faith has kept us strong. We all know that we will return to our “normal” lives with greater resiliency not only naturally but spiritually as well.

We are looking forward to the first day of the new academic year on Wednesday, September 9, 2020. Just recently, I heard a fourth-grade student say: “I am thrilled to be returning to school in a couple of weeks!” Yes, that is something that you might expect to hear from a fourth-grade student. But when you hear an eighth-grade student say, “I cannot wait to get back into the classroom!” that is a different story.

What both students, and all students, are saying is that they miss the classroom learning environment. What comes with that statement is their connection to the pastors, principals, teachers, classmates, friends, and the learning environment they are part of every day. It is so important that we return to school in a couple of weeks. Everyone, and I mean everyone, wants to come back together as a faith community.

And we are ready to welcome everyone back! As I said in the back-to-school video, we miss you! We miss seeing everyone coming through the front doors of the Catholic Academies and Parish Schools throughout our Diocese in Brooklyn and Queens. The warm welcome, the morning prayer, the Pledge of Allegiance to our flag, as well as the environment built on values and virtues.

Parents, as you know firsthand, these past months you were the primary educators of your children through a partnership with the Catholic Academy and Parish School teachers. By choosing to re-enroll your child in our excellent network of academies and schools, you are placing a most sacred trust in us by giving us the privilege to educate and form your children. Your desire to have your child educated in a Catholic Academy or Parish School tells us that you are seeking much more than just an academic curriculum. You make great sacrifices for your children. Therefore, it is our responsibility to give you every tool available to build a foundation of faith within your home.

Just like when you returned to Mass for the first time after months of viewing televised Mass, things will be different. In the end, however, everyone and everything will be ready to welcome our students back to school. Pastors, principals, teachers, staff, and boards of directors have worked tirelessly this summer to prepare for the new beginning.

As we prepare for “opening day” we pause to remember how important our Catholic Academies and Parish Schools are to the mission of the Catholic Church.

Our Catholic Academies and Parish Schools are effective and powerful vehicles for our deep commitment to the Gospel teachings. Being apostolates of hope, joy, and enthusiasm empowers us to serve as role models of faith, forming and molding the future. We strive to have a formative impact on the whole child.

Spiritually: Our Catholic education is one of the greatest conduits of bringing the Good News of our Lord to the children, the future disciples of the Church.

Intellectually: Our Catholic academies and parish schools are called to educate to the highest standard of academic excellence and rigor, and we deliver. Our benchmarks of excellence call for us to develop the unique God-given talents of each student placed before us.

Socially: Never has it been more important to be beacons of light than in today’s secular world. Our students are equipped with the knowledge, faith, and confidence to go forth into society to be productive, spiritually influential citizens that can shape the future for generations to come.

I am so proud of the work of our Office of Schools Superintendent — Catholic School Support Services and our school leaders and teachers, and all they have done to make it possible for a safe return to school. For those of you who are thinking about moving to a Catholic Academy or Parish School, we still have space for you. Please visit our website (catholicschoolsbq.org) or take a virtual tour of one of the Catholic Academies and Parish Schools in your area. You will see how Catholic education will make a difference in the life of your child. Catholic Schools of Brooklyn and Queens: Providing a Foundation for Life.

As we plan to put out into the deep for the re-opening of the academic year, we are called to remember the prayer of Thomas Merton:

My Lord God, I do not see the road ahead of me.
I cannot know for certain where it will end …
I know that you will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it.
Therefore, I trust You always.
I will not fear, for You are with me and You will never leave me to face my perils alone.

“And behold, I am with you always” — Matthew 28:20

Follow Bishop DiMarzio on: Twitter @BpDiMarzio