This blog was contributed by Matt Russell, Chief Advancement & Business Development Officer at the National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA) in Arlington, VA.
As we begin our celebration of Catholic Schools Week, January 26 – February 1, we look to acknowledge the different facets that make a Catholic school such a special and meaningful place. There are many elements that come together to create a vibrant Catholic school: parishes, parents, students, faculty, clergy, the community and the nation.
Every day in Catholic schools across the country, we invite our students to a deeper relationship with God. Our students live the Gospel through their relationships and interactions with their classmates, teammates, parents, teachers, parishes and most critically, the community. Our schools by virtue of being Catholic, are called to be places of welcome and inclusion. They have an opportunity to be the vibrant epicenters of growth for their communities.
Our schools live the Joy of the Gospel through their heads, hearts and hands by knowing and serving the needy both locally and globally. The interaction of commitment and service between the school, its students and the community can be a reason for dedication and reenrollments and a driver of new enrollments to the school. The greater the sense of community, the healthier the school will be. It is a key piece to the creation of sustainable Catholic schools now and well into the future.
Certainly during Catholic Schools Week, we celebrate the good work of our students, faculties, clergy, parishes and communities, but we are also connected to each other across the nation. As we proudly celebrate and give thanks for all the great things our schools are doing, let us remember to invite the greater community to be a part of our schools in a new way. Let us lead others by example as our Catholic identity sets us apart from all other schools. Living and leading according to the Gospel attracts people to the faith and creates a culture that keeps and welcomes our community to join and support us.