Catholic schools prepare to make 2012-2013 a 'Year of Faith'

August 7, 2012

HOUSTON — Catholic Schools of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston are preparing to invite students and school communities “on a journey that lasts a lifetime” during the upcoming Year of Faith.

Last October, Pope Benedict XVI announced a Year of Faith to help Catholics appreciate the gift of faith, deepen their relationship with God and strengthen their commitment to sharing faith with others. The Holy Father said the Year of Faith would give “renewed energy to the mission of the whole Church to lead men and women out of the desert they often are in and toward the place of life: friendship with Christ who gives us fullness of life.”
The observance begins Oct. 11, 2012 — the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council — and concludes Nov. 24, 2013 — the feast of Christ the King.

He said the Catechism of the Catholic Church, first published in 1992, should serve as the handbook for helping Catholics rediscover the truths of faith and deepen their understanding of Church teaching.

During this Year of Faith, St. Michael School faculty will focus on both milestone anniversaries throughout the academic year.

“We will dedicate some of our faculty meeting time to delving more deeply into the teaching and vision of the Council and the Catechism to enrich our own lives of faith and to assist us in leading those we teach into a deeper experience of faith,” said Dr. Sandra Derby, campus minister at St. Michael School.

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith published a “note” to help people live the year “in the most effective and appropriate ways at the service of belief and evangelization.”

The note states: “The Year of Faith can be an opportunity to pay greater attention to Catholic schools, which are a perfect place to offer to students a living witness to the Lord and to nurture their faith. This can be done by making use of good catechetical tools, like the Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church and Youcat.”

Sister Kevina Keating, CCVI, Superintendent of Catholic Schools, distributed the note and copies of the Pope’s Apostolic Letter “Motu Proprio Data” to every principal during their recent workshop in Galveston.

To celebrate the Year of Faith, St. Helen School in Pearland is using the theme “Shine a Light on Our Faith,” according to Phyliss Coleman, principal.
“We will continue to formulate plans for monthly activities that will concentrate on giving and sharing light — the sun, lighthouses, etc. — that will provide our students and school community with visual representations of how we live our faith,” she said. “ For example, [we will host] a special day for all to wear sunglasses with conversations relating to how our lives are different if we ‘shade’ ourselves from the Lord’s light.”

The Year of Faith is an opportunity for Catholics to experience a conversion — “to turn back to Jesus and enter into a deeper relationship with Him.” 
“Showing our faith and shining our lights are important parts of the Catholic school’s mission in preserving and sharing the traditions of our religion,” Coleman said. “Throughout every aspect of their school lives, students are taught they must turn to Jesus for all things. With all the societal and peer pressures our students now face, they must have a deep relationship with the Lord to be able to maintain emotional safety and security during unsure times.”

Derby said conversion is a lifelong process of continuously turning toward God. 

“Our mission as Catholic educators is to assist our students as they begin this journey,” she said. “ One of the most important things we can do is to ensure that our students are building a strong relationship with God — one that will support and sustain them long after they leave us. Besides giving them a solid doctrinal formation, we hope to implant in them an unshakeable understanding of their being created by a loving God; One who made them — and everyone else — in His image. Teaching students to pray — both individually and as part of a Eucharistic community — shapes them as people of faith who announce by the way they live their lives and treat others that they are sons and daughters of God. The deeper the relationship with God, the deeper the understanding that all people are created in His image and likeness, the more likely it will be that our students will live throughout their lives the Gospel call to love and serve.”

Through this process of rediscovery and renewal, Coleman hopes the St. Helen School community will learn that “faith is not seeing, but believing in a source of light greater than themselves. We also hope the events we plan during the Year of Faith helps our families learn that the Lord’s light is everywhere — faith will help us find it even in the most difficult of times. We also want our students to learn that if they live and model a faith-based life, they will shine their lights so that others, too, can join in the faith and light of Jesus.”

Derby said days of prayer, service and opportunities to learn more about faith will be offered to all members of the community throughout the year.
“At a time when our culture is experiencing such a crisis of faith, I hope that our efforts stir in our community a deeper appreciation for the gift of our faith,” she said. “I also hope that it will enliven our experience of prayer and worship and inform our sense of mission. As we rediscover and renew our relationship with Christ, it is my hope that we embrace and live a profound faith — one that is alive and active in our classrooms, in our homes, in our liturgical celebrations, and in the people we serve through our service and outreach. I hope that this Year of Faith will yield to a lifetime of faith, a lifetime of renewal, a lifetime of following Christ who calls us to know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him.” 

— Catholic News Services contributed to this article