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April 17, 2016
As we continue our capital campaign to build the first Catholic elementary and middle school in Katy, I wanted to share with you the Catholic Church’s teaching on Catholic education. The Vatican’s Sacred Congregation for Catholic Education published the document, The Catholic School, to explain and “emphasize clearly the educational value of the Catholic school.” The document is addressed to all who are responsible for education, which are parents, teachers, young people, and school authorities, and “urges them to pool all their resources and the means at their disposal to enable Catholic schools to provide a service which is truly civic and apostolic.”
The mission of the Church is evangelization—to spread the faith. The Catholic school plays a vital role in proclaiming the good news of salvation by teaching students to live knowingly as children of God and to assume the responsibility placed on them by virtue of their Baptism. In the daily life of the school, children will be taught to discern their vocation in a climate that will allow their faith to gradually mature and enable them to cultivate human values that have their origin in the figure of Christ.
The Church upholds the coexistence of a Catholic school system with the public school system in order to offer and safeguard the Church’s teaching in a pluralistic society, where many minority voices participate in shaping the dominant society. The Catholic school helps to promote the “freedom of teaching, freedom of conscience, and the parental right to choose the school best suited to parents’ educational purposes.” By its very existence in the academic world, the Catholic school proclaims “the enriching power of the faith as the answer to the enormous problems which afflict mankind. Above all, it is called to render a humble loving service to the Church by ensuring that she is present in the scholastic field for the benefit of the human family.” Thus, Catholic schools work hand-in-hand with schools of other Christian denominations and also with State schools to give direction and begin to solve the contemporary problems of the world, and “the absence of the Catholic school would be a great loss for civilization and for the natural and supernatural destiny of man.”
The Vatican document points out that some people incorrectly believe that “Catholic schools have outlived their time—as institutions they were a necessary substitute in the past but have no place at a time when civil authority assumes responsibility for education.” That is simply not the case: “in fact, as the State increasingly takes control of education…the survival of those natural communities, based on a shared concept of life, is threatened. Faced with this situation, the Catholic school offers an alternative which is in conformity with the wishes of the members of the community of the Church.”
Everyone who is responsible for the Catholic school should “most surely be filled with a deep conviction, joy, and spirit of sacrifice in the knowledge that they are offering innumerable young people the opportunity of growing in faith, of accepting and living its precious principles of truth, charity and hope.” The Church document acknowledges with gratitude the contribution of many Catholics who witness and work and teach in State schools throughout the world. And the document concludes with these inspiring words: “We are certain that in the last analysis, success in any venture does not come from trust in our own solutions but from trust in Jesus Who allowed Himself to be called Teacher. May He inspire, guide, support, and bring to a safe conclusion all that is undertaken in His name.”
The full text of the document, The Catholic School, can be found at the following Vatican link: http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/ccatheduc/documents/rc_con_ccatheduc_doc_19770319_catholic-school_en.html