Column: Catholic schools: An investment in both our earthly and eternal futures

by Kathy O’Hara

Dear friend of Catholic schools,

Some time ago, my sister sent me the following story that was circulating in cyberspace at the time: “A young boy was doing poorly in math in public school so his parents enrolled him in a Catholic school, hoping that he would be motivated by the staff there. After the first day of school, the boy came home and raced upstairs to his room.

His parents asked him how school went, and he replied, ‘Great, I’ve got to go do my homework.’

His parents were amazed and excited to think that their strategy might be working so soon. Day after day, the same scene repeated itself — the little boy ran home and went straight to his room.

Finally, the first parent-teacher conferences were scheduled, and the parents were anxious to find out what the teacher’s secret was in motivating their son. They were surprised to discover that she thought he was naturally a hard worker from the very first day.

When the parents came home, they asked their son about the change in him. He told them that on the very first day of school he ‘saw that guy nailed to the plus sign’ and he figured he better get busy because he realized this school meant business!”

This tale is not meant to be blasphemous in any way, but rather just a cute story. However, as I reflect on Catholic Schools Week, which we celebrate this year from Jan. 27- Feb. 2, I realize the story contains a key truth. The truth is not in the fear of the little boy, but rather in the focus of Jesus Christ as the motivation for what we do and accomplish in Catholic schools.

This truth is reflected in the mission statement of our office and many Catholic schools:

“Christ is the reason for these schools. The unseen but ever-present teacher in our classes, the model of our faculties and the inspiration of our students.”

On the surface, Catholic schools may look a lot like our public school counterparts, but at our core and in every other way we must be fundamentally different.

Research continues to show that Catholic schools remain the best vehicle we have in the church for passing on the faith and for developing the talents of students. Catholic schools are, indeed, a wise investment in both our earthly and eternal futures.

We, in Catholic schools, must be vigilant in remaining Christ-centered. Please pray that parents and teachers alike are attracted to our schools for this reason — the importance of Jesus Christ in their lives and in the lives of children and students.

¡Vaya con Dios!

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