My dear brothers and sisters in the Lord,
Each year, 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 recognize the accomplishments of our students, the commitment of our parents, the dedication of our teachers and staff, the leadership of our principals, the work of the boards of directors, and the spiritual leadership of our pastors and parish priests. The theme for this year’s Catholic Schools Week – “Learn. Serve. Lead. Succeed.” – is evident in all of the Catholic academies and parish schools in Brooklyn and Queens.
In November 2017, the Preserving the Vision annual report highlighted the many accomplishments of Catholic Education during the past academic year. This continued success is rooted in the goal of providing a quality Catholic education to all students enrolled in our Catholic academies and parish schools. I take this opportunity to reflect on the importance of Catholic Education and provide you with some insights.
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, safeguard, and grow this most grand responsibility. Our Catholic identity to the greater community is one which I like to call “welcoming evangelization.”
This has never been more evident than in our schools, which are effective and powerful vehicles for our deep commitment to the teachings of the Gospel. Being apostolates of hope, joy, and enthusiasm enables 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 bring the Good News of our Lord to our children, the future disciples of the Church.
Intellectually: Our Catholic academies and parish schools are called to educate students to the highest standard of academic excellence and rigor, and we are successful. 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 who can shape the future for generations to come.
This call of mission is motivating, inspiring, and exciting. We all have an important role to play in being effective Ambassadors of Christ. As your Bishop, I, along with 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 schools on a regular basis serving as living models of faith. Their welcoming pastoral presence provides the playbook for acceptance that we are all children of God.
When you walk into any of our schools, you know immediately that something very special is happening – you can feel it. You know that the principals are excellent leaders. They are the ones responsible for the instructional programs, catechetical programs and well-being of all those entrusted to their care, especially the students. They work tirelessly with their teachers to provide a quality Catholic education. Through their efforts, our NYS Assessment results continue to outpace the City and State in English language arts. In Math, we continue to keep pace with NYC and NYS.
Everyday, these leaders provide the tools to fulfill our directives. They maintain the highest benchmarks and spiritual, academic, and social standards. They create opportunities of evangelization, in the classroom and in the greater communities. They constantly seek ways to engage all in prayer, sacramental participation, and an academically rich curriculum infused with Gospel teachings.
The most visible role models of faith to our children are the teachers. They are dedicated and tireless. Teachers arrive each day eagerly awaiting their students. They are full of excitement, knowing that they can truly shape the hearts and minds of their students. The climate within the classrooms reflect the teachings of the Church. More importantly, they are witnesses and practitioners of faith who motivate not just through their words, but through their actions. Ongoing professional development provides them with the latest innovations and methods to meet the needs of the students. Our partnerships with colleges and universities continue to be a source of support.
Our academy boards of directors bring expertise to further enhance the mission of Catholic education. Being an academy director is a new ministry, one which inspires, guides, and affects positive change. Directors work diligently on finance, marketing, development and recruitment of students. Essential to the success of the academy governance model is the establishment of the committee structure and engagement of parents through the Home Academy Association. As partners, parents must be engaged in the development and marketing committees. The Home Academy Association is a great way for parents to collaborate with the principal.
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 and these parents make great sacrifices. It is our responsibility to give them every tool available to build that foundation of faith within their home. We inspire our parents to become effective evangelizers on their own by fostering attitudes of prayerful and faith-filled living. The parents must 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.
Through the support of DeSales Media Corporation and the St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Trust, we continue to ensure that our schools have the latest in technology and STEM (Science Technology, Engineering and Math).
The Diocese has recently launched the revised Preserving the Vision strategic plan that builds on the successes of the past and focuses our attention on:
- Continuing efforts to provide a quality Catholic education with the appropriate technology in all classes
- Expanded development opportunities to seek new sources of revenue
- Addressing the ever-changing demographics
- Marketing Catholic education
This strategic plan for 2018-2020 provides us with a solid road map for the next three years.
St. John Paul II succinctly and clearly outlined that the mission of Catholic education belongs to us all. 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 put out into the deep each and every day. I ask you to join me in celebrating the successes of Catholic education.
During Catholic Schools Week, we continue our commitment to the mission of Catholic education and to keep the flame of God’s love for us burning brightly in Brooklyn and Queens. We must always remember that our Catholic academies and parish schools guide all students to: Learn, Serve, Lead, and Succeed.