By Samuel Torres
A new liturgical year has begun, and we have received the most precious gift, Our Savior, the baby Jesus. Each of us reflects on the immense spiritual wealth that dignifies our humanity and expresses our gratitude in various ways.
As we reflect more deeply on the incredible gift of Jesus Christ, we are overwhelmed by the humility of the first family and the wisdom of their decisions in welcoming our Savior King.
This new year, I am thankful for the opportunity provided by staff, faculty and stakeholders who bring together their gifts of talent, time, and expertise for the thousands of children in our Diocese. These contributions are bundled in love and reflect an opportunity that build strong school communities for our children. Our school communities express God’s love in a most caring manner through daily prayer, service work, character development and faith expression. As we journey into the new year, I pause to thank those partnering with me, as we share in hope for those emerging adults to engage in a Catholic lifestyle for life.
In visiting our school campuses throughout the Advent season, I noticed the dramatic contrast from how the material world celebrates Christmas, as I witnessed our students methodically and strategically rehearsing their parts for class Masses, Christmas programs, and planning Christian outreach. At a time when self-gratification is a goal for the modern world, I noticed that our schools focused on serving others, and celebrating joyfully their thankful hearts. Almost every school presented their version of the Christmas story to celebrate together as spirits were elevated and praise for the birth of Jesus was expressed. The busy excitement of the Christmas season had given them a reason to work together, a reason and place to belong.
Our schools are particularly committed to animating the Corporal Works of Mercy during this Holy season. Some of the outreach activities supported by our schools were: collecting food for the hungry, distributing clothing, visiting the lonely, and supporting the homeless. One of our schools provided Christmas trees and decorations for our brave soldiers currently deployed. Another school reached halfway around the world. What often begins as a small gesture, transforms our communities and returns many blessings back to them.
We don’t have to look far for our Christmas miracles, in fact; they are all around us! In a world dominated by modernism and materialism, it is heartwarming to know that our Catholic school students are positioned safely in welcoming and nurturing Catholic communities. While so many have forgotten the immense wealth of Our King, our Catholic school children lead the way and busily distribute joy, charity, and reminders of salvation each day.
Joy to the World!
Samuel Torres is Superintendent of Catholic Schools in the Diocese of San Bernardino.