My dear brothers and sisters in the Lord,
Catholic Schools Week is a time for everyone to celebrate the great success stories of Catholic education within the Diocese of Brooklyn. During this special week, we celebrate the great accomplishments of the students entrusted to us, and we recognize the commitments made by our parents, the dedication of our teachers and staff, the leadership of our principals, the work of the board of directors and the spiritual leadership of our pastors and parish priests.
In October 2016, we held the Catholic Education Summit. Its primary purpose was not only to celebrate 10 years of Preserving the Vision, but also to provide all stakeholders with a road map for the next three years. As I reflect on the importance of the Catholic Education Summit for the Diocese and look to the celebration of Catholic Schools Week, I take this opportunity to provide you with important insights on the value of Catholic education in Brooklyn and Queens.
As a Church, we are the proud standard bearers of the rich Catholic tradition and mission set forth by those who walked before us. It is our obligation to nurture, foster, safeguard and grow this most grand responsibility. Our Catholic identity to the greater community is one of what I call “welcoming evangelization.”
This has never been more evident than in our parish schools and academies. They 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 to bringing the Good News of our Lord to the children, the future disciples of the Church.
Intellectually: Our academies and 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 and every 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.
This call of mission is motivating, inspiring and exciting. It is quite obvious that we are all leaders of this mission. We all have an important role to play to being effective ambassadors of Christ. It is apparent from these responsibilities that God’s team is strong and bountiful. As your Bishop, I, and the Auxiliary Bishops of this great diocese support and enrich the mission of Catholic education in Brooklyn and Queens.
Our pastors and parish priests are in the academies and parish schools on a regular basis, living models of faith. They embody the directive of Christ to offer hope instead of despair, love where there is hatred, and tolerance where there is prejudice. Their welcoming pastoral presence provides the playbook for acceptance that we are all children of God. They are the teachers of teachers.
When you walk into any Catholic school in Brooklyn and Queens, you know immediately that something very special is happening there; you can feel it. You know that the principals at our academies and parish schools are excellent leaders. They are the ones responsible for the instructional programs, catechetical programs and the well-being of all those entrusted to them, especially the children. Every decision these principals make are done through the lens of the greater mission of the Church.
These leaders everyday provide the tools necessary to fulfill our directives. They maintain the highest benchmarks and standards spiritually, academically, and socially. They create opportunities of evangelization whether in the classroom or in the greater communities. They are constantly seeking out ways to engage all in prayer, sacramental participation, and with an academically rich curriculum infused with Gospel teachings.
The most visible role models of faith to our children are the teachers. Through their ongoing commitment, untiring efforts and dedication, they work diligently to provide children with a quality Catholic education. Teachers arrive each day eagerly awaiting their students. They are full of excitement, knowing that they can truly shape the hearts and minds of those before them. The conditions and climates within their classrooms reflect the true teachings of the Catholic Church. More importantly, however, they are everyday witnesses and practitioners of faith who motivate not just through their words, but through action.
Our Boards of Directors in the Academies bring their expertise to further enhance the mission of Catholic education within the Diocese of Brooklyn. Through their untiring efforts the Boards of Directors work diligently in the areas of finance, marketing, development and recruitment of new students. Being directors of an Academy is a new ministry for them, one which inspires, guides, and affects positive change.
Our parents are the primary educators of their children. By choosing our excellent academies and parish schools, they are placing in us a most sacred trust by giving us the privilege to educate and form their children. Their desire to have their child educated in a Catholic school tells us they are seeking much more than just an academic curriculum. They make great sacrifices for their children. It is our responsibility to give these parents every tool available to build that foundation of faith within their home. We empower our parents to become effective evangelizers on their own, fostering attitudes of prayerful and faith-filled living. To provide never-ending opportunities to participate in the life of the Church, to worship on Sundays as a faith-filled community, to seek atonement for sin by the Sacrament of Penance, and to experience the power of the Sacrament of the Eucharist.
Saint John Paul II succinctly and clearly outlined that the mission of Catholic education is all of our responsibility; it is a team effort. All people of faith are called to ensure that our mantle of faith, hope, and love are resoundingly heard.
All of those involved in the Mission of Catholic education within the Diocese of Brooklyn put out into the deep each and every day. I ask you to join me in celebrating the many success stories associated with Catholic education. During this Catholic Schools Week, we remember the continuation of our pledge of commitment to the mission of Catholic education and to keep the flame of God’s love for us burning brightly here in Brooklyn and Queens.
Follow Bishop DiMarzio
Related: Catholic Schools Week 2017