This Catholic Schools Week, we have so much to be proud of when we look at the ways Catholic schools help students grow in faith, knowledge, service, and leadership. My hope for Catholic schools is that we can also use our unique position and mission to impact the adults who work for us. For me, one of the most valuable parts of working at a Catholic school is that I can grow in faith along with my students and build a faith community with other adults.
Although many people experience a “let down” in January after the holidays are over, students, parents, teachers, and others associated with Catholic schools have an opportunity to continue the festivity through Catholic Schools Week (CSW). Special liturgies, essay contests, community receptions, “dress-down” days, and other thematically-linked activities celebrate the gift of Catholic education.
In The Spirit of the Liturgy, Romano Guardini describes the link between culture and the liturgy. Without the liturgy, culture turns in upon itself, becoming the religion of the aesthete. Without culture, liturgy desiccates, unable to lift the human spirit to adore the living God.
The questions “Who am I?” and “Where do I belong?” are complicated for any high schooler, and perhaps even more so for young women attending a competitive, all-girls Catholic school. Sarah Shutrop, Director of Campus Ministry at Immaculate Heart Academy in Bergen County, New Jersey, helps many young women navigate the journey of self-realization and understanding one’s place in the community. On Church Life Today Shutrop discussed how the academic rigor of the college prep school often creates a culture of competition among women, making it difficult to feel a sense of belonging during a particularly formative period of their lives. The increasing influence of social media, especially Instagram, in which one’s image is carefully curated, adds to this problem by making it easier to label and define girls in superficial ways.
At Notre Dame’s 174th University Commencement Ceremony on May 19, Dr. Norman C. Francis, the longtime president of Xavier University of Louisiana, will receive the 2019 Laetare Medal. This premier symbol annually honoring American Catholics will celebrate Francis’ “leadership in the fight for social justice through educational empowerment,” as University President Rev. John I. Jenkins, CSC, recently put it in a news release.