As we enter into a new school year, we are edified by the work done by our Catholic schools and academies. Principals, teachers, pastors, all united by the one single goal to teach our young people and to form them to be women and men for others, have spent countless hours preparing for our young people to return, in person, to class this September. Guided by the Diocesan Schools Office and the Vicar for Catholic Schools, Msgr. David Cassato, the sure hope is that we will have a safe, happy, healthy, and holy school year.
Living under the specter of COVID-19, we have learned that sometimes the best-laid plans, despite our best efforts, fall through and we have to change.
Flexibility and being reasonable are required more than ever from our parents, students, administrators, and teachers. Following the small precautions of masking, social distance protocols, handwashing, and other simple actions can help the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.
We were able to do this as a Diocese when we were blessed to have our parish churches reopen for daily and weekday Masses in June and July. Thanks be to God, we have been able to come together as parish communities to worship the Lord in spirit and truth. Each parish prepared and showed reasonable due diligence. Let’s do the same with our schools — Catholic schools!
With the passing of Brother Ralph Darmento, FSC, the Diocese as a whole mourns the loss of a man who was dedicated to Catholic education. Brother Ralph was a familiar sight to so many parishes and schools in the Diocese of Brooklyn where he served as Deputy Superintendent of Schools.
Being a religious brother, a man in consecrated life, having taken vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience, Brother Ralph was a gift to this Diocese and to so many other people whom he had encountered in the midst of his apostolates. Perhaps in his passing to the arms of the Lord, we might wish to draw attention to the vocation of religious brothers in the Church.
As we know, vocations to the priesthood and the religious life are the responsibility of the whole Church, beginning with the family unit and then moving on to the parish. Our children and young men and women are familiar with the vocation to the priesthood. Some are at least familiar with the presence of women religious, sisters and nuns, and we are blessed with the presence of many communities of sisters and nuns in the Diocese. However, since the close of the Second Vatican Council, the number of religious brothers whom our young people encounter has truly become diminished.
We need to pray for religious men, those men who consecrate themselves to the Lord to service of the Church. So many of us have been taught by brothers, be they Franciscan, Xavierian, Irish Christian, De Salle Christian brothers, and many other communities. Perhaps this week we might wish to offer a prayer for an increase of the vocation to serving in the Church as a religious brother. Perhaps we might wish to recall gratefully those religious men who have inspired us to be better men and women, better Catholic Christians by serving us as religious brothers by writing into our letters’ page.