A Shepherd's Message - August 18, 2020

August 18, 2020

We are approaching a very important time, time to return to school.

We do so amidst the anxious and trying circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic. I start out by praying for students, parents and teachers. This will be a year very unlike past school semesters. Whether your children are going to in-person learning, being taught virtually at home or entering a hybrid situation, to you, parents, it will be a new and sometimes “nervous” experience.

To you, who are teachers, you also face a new set of circumstances to teach children in a classroom while simultaneously mastering the techniques of teaching virtually.

To you, children, the word is patience; it will itself become a great positive force for learning.

For all of you, health and safety are of paramount concern.

We all have to certify that the framework of our education for young people includes the whole person. We know that science and the various subgroups in science are crucial, as are mathematics and language arts, and knowledge of technology. Needed as well are the creative arts and an understanding and study of history.

Within all these subjects and topics, faith and the study of faith and religion must be woven and integrated into all that our students, elementary and secondary, experience. This happens beautifully each day in our Catholic Schools. But in every form of education, it is truly the first duty and freedom of parents to help inculcate the meaning and teachings of our Catholic faith, to introduce them to prayer, and to help them see the stories of Scripture as their own inheritance. Parents help children prepare for Sacraments, give initial instruction and a gentle push towards the Church’s social doctrine and help them participate in parish life.

Children and young people are the greatest treasures that have been entrusted to us as adults. If you are an administrator, a teacher or a helper, and in whatever school or learning situation you find yourself, remember that each student is a gift and a treasure.

In a recent Sunday Gospel, Jesus comes to His apostles as they struggle during a storm at sea. “Do not be afraid; it is I,” He says. Peter even begins to walk on water towards Jesus, but He sees the swirling waters and is terrified. “Save me, Lord!” he cries. Jesus catches him and corrects him on his “little faith.” Once inside the boat, Jesus, Peter and the Twelve are then in smooth waters for Christ has calmed the waves.

In our own difficult times now, when the waters of anxiety and fear beset us, let us remember that Jesus accompanies us in the Church, the “boat of Peter,” and will not desert us. †