Celebrating Catholic Schools: Formation of the Whole Person
One of the joys of being a priest is that throughout my priesthood, I’ve had the chance to serve in parishes with schools. Over the years, I’ve learned valuable lessons; such as once asked by a first grader why I always sat with the boys when I would visit for school lunch, and, much like Tom Hanks in “A League of their Own” when I filled in one day as a “celebrity” substitute teacher in first grade and one first grader was crying because her friend upset her, I could not say “there is no crying in first grade!” but ran to get a more seasoned veteran teacher who quickly had the two kids back to being best of friends again within 30 seconds.
I’ve got no plans to be a regular sub, but what a joy it is to be in a parish with a Catholic School. It’s such a joy to celebrate Mass each week with the students, to visit classrooms with Emmett, and to see the dedication and hard work put in by Mrs. Kelly Roche, our principal, and a committed faculty to help our students thrive.
This week we celebrate Catholic Schools’ Week, a nation-wide celebration of the Catholic Schools that is always celebrated in January, the month that honors Elizabeth Ann Seton, the founder of the Catholic Schools who died on January 4, 1821. We’ll start this weekend at the 10:30 Mass where students from the school will be helping to lead our Mass assisting with the readings and singing.
In recent years, it’s been great to see the school continue to grow. It began a few years back with a pre-school addition as we converted the library into a beautiful school space for pre-schoolers; and more recently as our school has grown we’ve added a second kindergarten, first and second grade.
There’s a lot that makes our school unique; at a Catholic School of course we are able to focus not just on academics, but on educating the whole person, mind and soul.
Our school is centered around several core values, namely:
Evangelizing– Our parish school possesses an evangelizing attitude that is inherent in our words, actions, and ministry reflecting that all of us are children of God created in God’s image and likeness.
Lifelong Learning– Our parish school is dedicated to growing in our knowledge of Jesus through formal and informal education throughout our lives. We embrace opportunities for continual learning and strive for achievement in all areas of learning and life.
One in Christ– Our parish school is strengthened by diversity, a product of God’s creative wisdom. By expressing and utilizing our unique individual gifts, we are cultivating the Kingdom of God on earth.
Prayer and Worship– Our parish school values prayer and worship as a sacred means through which we deepen our relationship with God and one another. Our expressions of faith embrace tradition and a relevant message for 21st century Christians.
Respect for All People– Our parish school is committed to God’s commandment to love one another. We welcome and engage all who are served by our ministry. We interact with people, whether within or outside our school community, in a respectful, welcoming, and caring manner.
Service– Our parish school values and promotes service in living out our faith both locally and in our greater community. God calls and empowers us to use our gifts and talents for the benefit of others, especially those who are most in need.
Faith of course is also a cornerstone of our school; we have Mass each week; each day starts with a convocation; students experience faith immersion experiences while in the school, and throughout the year our school helps the students appreciate Catholic Social Justice teachings as well. We also have events such as adoration, reconciliation during Advent and Christmas, the Living Rosary, the Christmas Program and Mary Crowning just to name a few.
Educating the mind, our students are exposed to an excellent curriculum focusing on language arts, math, social studies and science, along with music and physical education. We also offer Spanish and opportunities for kids to learn more about technology.
In the school, you also see great things every day. You see the kids caring and looking out for one another. You see teachers caring so deeply about them and going above and beyond what their vocation requires to go the extra mile. For instance, it’s been so inspiring to get to know people like
Mr. Terry Hale, who has been teaching 8th grade since the late 80s, and commutes from Minneapolis because he loves the students and school so much; or Mrs. Leann Mansour, who leads our music program and her love and dedication as she helps kids to appreciate music and works so hard to have them be a part of a wonderful Christmas Program each December and spring musical production. You also see so many parents volunteer and show their love for the school.
The Holy Spirit is very much at work at Saint Joe’s – and people recognize this, which is why our enrollment has increased and there is such strong support for our school.
Be sure to check out our parish school website for more information: school.stjosephcommunity.org
As I’ve said many times at our parish and in others, this is always “our” school in the sense that the school is part of the parish and the parish part of the school. Whether one has children in the school or not, all of us share in the mission of helping one another to grow in the faith, and the school is a mission that does just that. Thank you so much for the love that you have shown for Saint Joseph’s school over the years.
If you are looking at options for education for your children, please prayerfully consider our parish school. You can reach out to our principal Kelly Roche with any questions, or to arrange a tour.
Celebrating this wonderful week, I’d like to thank all who support our school and please keep all involved in our school, from staff to volunteers to the students and alumni, in your prayers. We truly have something very special in our parish school – so let’s celebrate that not just one week out of the year, but every day of the year as part of our parish mission and identity.
God Bless, ~Fr. Paul
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