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We are extremely fortunate to live in a nation where the stars and stripes wave proudly in our skies and the eagle soars to untold heights towards the heavens. We enjoy freedoms bought at the cost of much blood and great sacrifice by our forebears. Generation after generation, Catholic schools continue to make a significant contribution to our nation’s well-being.

Catholic Schools, A+ For America, is a most appropriate theme for this year’s National Catholic Schools Week. When students receive an A+ on an assignment, it indicates that the responses given were excellent and that they answered completely the questions posed. Our Catholic schools have historically earned an A+ in excelling in their mission to form the complete, the whole child entrusted to their care.

This can happen because the child’s soul is invited into the Catholic school classroom—there’s room for mind, body, and spirit in our schools. When the soul is allowed to be present in education, when the spirit is not stifled, the child’s whole self is nurtured to grow. When we can name God in the classroom, the exploration of the true self can begin in earnest and the meaning and purpose of life can truly be addressed--meaning that goes beyond answering what job can I get that earns me the most money; a meaning that goes beyond what will gratify and give me pleasure right now; a meaning that affirms and embraces my true dignity and worth as a human person made in God’s image and likeness.

When we can learn about prayer, and pray to God with our peers, when we can teach our youngsters Christian values without compromise, we are providing them with a tremendous gift today that will be unwrapped everyday for the rest of their lives into eternity. Our Catholic schools assist our parents in their responsibility of raising their children in the faith. Indeed, in a Catholic School, the whole child can be educated and formed, without apology and that earns an A+ for what the Catholic school graduate gives our nation!
Celebrating Catholic Schools Week is not a time to condemn public schools. In fact, we are very fortunate to have many high quality public schools in the North Country. Nevertheless, Catholic Schools Week is an occasion to acknowledge the tremendous gift of a Catholic school education.

Our kids can learn so much in an environment, day in and day out, where the core spiritual dimension of life is made evident. In the Catholic school, our children can discover what is sacred in life, what is sacred in their own lives, and what allows them to bring their most sacred gifts to nourish the world.

In our Catholic schools, we can help our students to understand the Catholic perspective on the relationship between science and religion. We can ask the important questions raised by our faith tradition and help our students frame their own questions. We can help our students to understand how careers in the arts and sciences can be important responses to God’s call to love and serve one another.

Science, as great a gift as it is, will always come up short. Our faith tradition shows us that some real things—such as love and respect—are beyond scientific analysis. Our faith can offer a moral framework for scientific research. This moral vision asks, “Just because we can do something, should we? Is it morally responsible?”

Indeed, not only does a Catholic school have the top-notch intellectual expertise to teach the science, we have the freedom to inform it with our faith. This makes for A+ leaders for tomorrow. Our Catholic schools provide the disciplined setting for our children to learn about the world, its meaning, and their God-given role in making America, indeed, the whole world, a better place in which to live.

This Catholic Schools Week we thank God for all the many people—parents, parishioners, teachers, staff, religious, and clergy who continue to sacrifice much in order to provide Catholic schools in our neighborhoods. Let us redouble our efforts and prayers encouraging our neighbors to consider a Catholic School education for their children. Happy and Blessed Catholic Schools Week everyone!

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