As we close another academic year, it is filled in some places with great hope, and in other places with great sadness. Some high schools, such as Bishop Kearney in Bensonhurst and St. Joseph’s in Downtown Brooklyn, have decided to close their doors after many years of service because of declining enrollment. This is a very sad day for the faculty, students, families and alumni of these two fine schools. We must remember that the legacy of the schools lives on in their alumnae. Other Catholic academies, like Saint Helen’s in Howard Beach, are growing. This parish academy’s enrollment has increased by 15 percent, and three grades are now filled to capacity. That is joyful news.
We, as a Church community, even if we do not ourselves have children or grandchildren, need to continue to support the mission of Catholic education. Without Catholic schools, we lose a valuable source of three vital gifts to the Church and the world: first, intelligent and dedicated people; second, well-catechized Catholics; and third, potential vocations of service to the Church and the world.
First, we recall that Catholic education is for the whole person. It touches the heart, the mind and the soul. It helps create moral men and women, good citizens and future scholars.
Second, we need Catholic schools to continue to offer fine catechesis to their students. Many of us can remember the prayers, morals and doctrine transmitted to us when we were in Catholic schools. The faces, the places and the personnel may have changed in several places, but the basic message remains the same — Jesus Christ and his Gospel.
Third, we need Catholic schools to inspire future vocations of service to the Church as priests, religious sisters, religious brothers, permanent deacons and laypeople. The example young people encounter in schools of dedicated believers, fortified by the example of the family, will only bear good fruit in the future.
Yes, Catholic schools are more important than ever. Pray for successful enrollments for September and pray that all our students, families, administrators, and teachers may have a blessed summer.
End of school year prayer:
O God of all beginnings and endings,
We praise and thank You for the gift of this school year.
It has been a time filled with grace and blessings,
With challenges and opportunities,
joys and sorrows.
The days have passed quickly, O Lord.
The weeks, the months, the seasons,
the holidays and holy days,
The exams, vacations, breaks, and assemblies,
All have come forth from Your hand.
While we trust that Your purposes
have always been at work each day,
Sometimes it has seemed difficult to understand and appreciate
Just what You have been up to in our school.
Give us the rest and refreshment we need this summer.
Let our efforts of this past year bear fruit.
Bring all of our plans to a joyful conclusion,
And bless us, according to Your will,
With the fulfillment of our summer hopes and dreams.
Watch over us in the weeks of rest ahead,
And guide each day as You have done this past year.
Help us return to school with a new spirit and a new energy.
May we continue to grow
In age, wisdom, knowledge and grace
All the days of our lives.
(From the Archdiocese of Baltimore)