By Dr. Samuel Torres
Participating in the message of “hope” is a great honor and responsibility of Christians. Some person or community reflected a lifestyle that attracted and invigorated us to live out Christian values and to experience today’s faith-filled environments.
We continue to be blessed in receiving the deposit of our faith through study, relationships, traditions and participation in sacramental life. And, because we are so rich in our Catholic heritage, we must know we are also responsible for whatever we can do to preserve this for our future Church.
Catholic schools are a wonderful example of hope at work. Many contributors to the environment make these schools fertile ground and hopeful places for our children.
The future church is here and now. Daily, students are bombarded with messages of despair and the false promises of the secular world. Yet, in our schools we are carrying the torch of life-giving hope and dignity for each one. It is so much more than the rigor of standardized education that leads to higher learning. Yes, we know they all want to go to Harvard. More importantly, can they make their way to heaven?
Filling lives with hope impacts not just one person, but each person that touches the life of a hope-filled person. To be in the midst of a hopeful person is to be in the midst of Jesus and His mother. For even when the world did not make sense, they never took their eyes from the ultimate point of our existence, life everlasting with our Heavenly Father. The fertile grounds of our classrooms embody students from many backgrounds and abilities. Herein lies an opportunity for all to practice and share a respectful and hopeful environment which ultimately transcends the classroom; they are working to form the social, emotional, intellectual and spiritual matters of the heart, for the rigors of life.
Our own Diocese has many examples of graduates of our Catholic schools who can be found in leadership within our schools, churches, and local communities, regionally and nationally. I meet with many of these leaders regularly, and I am struck by a common theme in the way they express who are they are, and what they represent. Many contribute generously to our future church and are very humble when recognized for doing so. We could not run our schools or our churches without these generous benefactors. Let us remember, that our future lay leaders will also hold positions in government, health care, entertainment, business, science, education, art and law. They will be parents and spouses looking for and giving support while creating the next generation of Catholics based on our examples of love and service.
What will be said about the action we generate? What will the children of today say about our example, our contribution to the deposit of faith, and to our message of hope in a hurting world? They will know and say that we lifted them up, we walked the journey with them, and that we did our best to prepare them for a Christian life of joy and discipline that helped them stay the course. We must teach them to hold fast to their faith and to be blessed by it.
The model of parochial schools has been serving students and families for over 200 years. It has undergone some revisions over the years, but its core has always been centered on the rich heritage of our faith, inclusion and academic integrity. As your Superintendent, I am proud to be serving our Catholic schools at this time in history. They are essential in forming the faith of our students, and necessary for their enlightenment and development in a world that struggles to protect their childhood. Yes, they are also necessary for the growth of our Catholic Church to continue our legacy of our love for one another. I continue to welcome your support of our Catholic schools in order to maintain accessibility, relevance, and sustainability. You can always contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dr. Samuel Torres is Superintendent of Catholic Schools in the Diocese of San Bernardino.