Put Out into the Deep

We Believe in Catholic Schools

My dear brothers and sisters in the Lord,


As we begin to celebrate Catholic Schools Week on Jan. 26, I wish to share with you the theme for Catholic Schools Week that the National Catholic Education Association (NCEA) has selected, not only for this year but for the next two-to-three years: “Catholic Schools: Communities of Faith, Knowledge and Service.”

The theme begins with the notion of community. Our Holy Father, Pope Francis, wrote that “other Church institutions, basic communities and small communities, movements, and forms of association are a source of enrichment for the Church, raised up by the Spirit for evangelizing different areas and sectors.”

In addition to forming strong Catholic communities within themselves, Catholic schools and academies within the Diocese of Brooklyn are unique in their outreach to diverse populations. “Frequently they bring a new evangelizing fervour and a new capacity for dialogue with the world whereby the Church is renewed” (Evangelii Gaudium, 29).



Catholic Identity in schools and academies is always a priority here in Brooklyn and Queens. The centrality of the faith guides Catholic educators each day as they diligently educate the children of God who have been entrusted to our Catholic schools by their parents. In addition to teaching the faith, Catholic school and academy communities live the faith through daily prayer and life in the sacraments.

The subject our Catholic faith is unlike other academic subjects because it is not purely academic; it forms us. Pope Francis recognizes this when he notes that “Catholic schools, which always strive to join their work of education with the explicit proclamation of the Gospel, are a most valuable resource for the evangelization of culture” (EG, 134).

Over the past 10 years as your Bishop, I have met many leaders in our diocese who have been formed in the faith through Catholic school education. There is great hope for the future as Catholic school children continue to become leaders in our Church.


Catholic schools and academies within the Diocese of Brooklyn have a great commitment to academic excellence that is rooted in the faith-based mission of Catholic education. Without diminishing Catholic identity or academic excellence, the implementation of the New York Common Core State Learning Standards within the diocese has established consistent learning goals for all students. It is vital that the curriculum in Catholic schools and academies remain our own and that it remains rooted in our faith. Therefore, these newly established learning goals not only form a baseline for our schools and academies but also the curriculum remains our own. The educational standards united with our Catholic identity will prepare our students to succeed in college and in their future careers.

Student success can be seen as the heartbeat of Catholic schools and academies. We often use the phrase “21st Century Teaching and Learning.” This phrase signifies that Catholic school educators strive to teach students in the ways that reflect how they might learn best today, rather than allowing teaching methods to exist unchanged. The best example of 21st century teaching and learning is the use of technology as a valuable educational tool. I myself do not know how use a SMART Board, but for children growing up today to succeed in the future, they must have the knowledge to utilize technology in a positive and effective way. It is for this reason that the classrooms in every school and academy are equipped with SMART Boards. Many schools also have resources such as student iPads, laptops, impressive multimedia labs and SMART Tables for their early childhood programs.

Unique projects and programs are growing as well. For example, the recently established Performing Arts Residency Program has enabled students in 20 schools to expand their knowledge of the culture of theater, drama and the arts. Another school has a museum specialist who works with the students and shows them artifacts on a regular basis. Projects like these, among so many others, can serve to nourish the minds of children and can lead to greater discovery of God and self.



Service to others is a key tenet of our Catholic faith, for Christ tells us that “if anyone wishes to be first, he shall be the last of all and the servant of all” (Mark 9:35). Just as parishes do a great deal of service work within the community, schools and academies are their partners in this important work.

I am proud of our children, and I am proud of the quality Catholic education they receive here in Brooklyn and Queens. These Catholic school communities follow Christ in faith. They study to gain knowledge to become successful future leaders, and they serve Christ with great missionary zeal.

As these school communities put out into the deep facing the challenges of faith, community and service, let us also put out into the deep with our prayers for their continued success.

May they grow and flourish all the more, and may God bless their work so that it is realized in the lives of students and families throughout our great city.


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