Fourth Synod Compiled Acts, Declarations and Statutes

a student, teacher, pastor and bishop, I have been edified by the dedication of the faculty, benefactors, parishioners, parents and students, whose hard work and sacrifices make our Catholic schools the great treasure that they are. At the same time, our Catholic schools face some significant challenges, not the least of which is financial. When I was in grade school, the religious Sisters were essentially volunteer labor, working for a small stipend along with room and board in the parish convent. As the number of religious Sisters teaching in our Catholic schools diminished over the years, they have been replaced by lay teachers who willingly make the sacrifice of working for a lower salary than their public-school counterparts, but who still must be paid a just wage. As these labor costs have increased, so has the tuition. Even though our parishes subsidize a sizeable portion of the per-student cost of education, the financial burden for parents has risen substantially. The downside of this increased financial cost of Catholic schools is what I call a consumer mentality of Catholic education. By that, I mean looking at Catholic education as a product that parents buy for their children. But even public schools are not funded that way: everyone pays taxes for public schools whether they have children in the schools or not, because education of the young is everyone’s civic responsibility. Similarly, Catholic education must be seen not just as the financial burden of the parents who send their children to Catholic schools, but rather as the responsibility of the entire Catholic community to hand on the Catholic faith to the next generation of believers. The challenge of how to do that will be an important topic for our Diocesan Synod. Please pray that the Holy Spirit will guide the discussions of our Diocesan Synod and that God will bless the future well-being of our Catholic schools. Another observance that we should note is the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity from January 18-25. The theme of this year’s Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is “ Reconciliation-The Love of Christ Compels Us ” (cf. 2 Cor. 5:14-20). As this year marks the 500 th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation begun by Martin Luther, we pray for healing of the subsequent deep divisions which afflicted the Church, so that all may be one as Christ our Lord wishes. May God give us this grace. Amen.


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