It hardly seems possible, but here we are again only a few weeks away from the start of school. I hope your summer thus far has been refreshing and that the rest of August is full of warm, sunny days and much refreshment of body and spirit.
One sign of the waning of summer days, to be sure, is this issue of the Catholic Courier, which is chock full of interesting stories and other material about Catholic schools and the soon-to-arrive 2008-09 school year. I do hope you enjoy reading about all the interesting programs and ideas at play in our schools, all aimed at enriching our children’s academic and faith education and leading them to fulfillment of their God-given potential.
As you well know, this is an important transition year for Monroe County Catholic schools in particular. In the aftermath of the unfortunate necessity to close 13 schools in the county, we are concentrating our resources and energy in the school system on the 11 remaining schools, as well as helping our parish-operated schools outside Monroe County as much as we possibly can.
Our schools have grown in enrollment due to the closings but they are poised and ready to carry on the long tradition of excellence for which Catholic schools are known. While I know some people believe the closings signaled some lack of commitment to Catholic education, please let me reassure you that we remain strong in our conviction that this is a very important ministry and one we will do all in our power to sustain and help prosper.
Your support, of course, is crucial. Please encourage our school parents, who make a considerable sacrifice to educate a child in our schools. If you have experiences of your own to share about the great benefits of a Catholic-school education, offer your witness to those who you know are contemplating sending children to our schools. Our schools always appreciate and need gifts of time and talent through volunteering, as well as your financial gifts of support if you are able.
Our Catholic schools office, principals, teachers and staff at each of the schools have worked tremendously hard these past weeks to ensure this excellence — to hone and polish our unique curricula that both nourishes and challenges a child’s intellect and also stirs the soul, encourages leadership and offers crucial moral guidance. That is why we are proud to say, “We teach it all.”
And, as I have said many times before, I believe we do this very well and that is why our students consistently perform above state-testing averages.
My heartfelt prayer is that this will be a successful year, one of many to come. I pray that all our students flourish, and that those children who are experiencing a new learning environment due to the closings will find the transition a comfortable one.
As well, I offer my gratitude to the hundreds of parents and grandparents of those who made the choice to stay in the system in this year of change. This is very much a clear sign to all who might be considering a Catholic education of the value placed on it by others. A Catholic education truly is a gift to a child for a lifetime.
Peace to all.