Mercy in motion: Catholic education goes beyond classroom walls to integrate faith

September 13, 2016

HOUSTON — Catholic education in the Archdiocese, which currently serves more than 19,000 students in 10 counties, reaches beyond the walls of the classroom to teach students how to actively integrate their faith into their daily lives.

Dr. Julie Vogel, superintendent of Catholic Schools in the Archdiocese, leads the efforts of the Catholic Schools Office (CSO), which oversees the largest private school system in Texas. The office provides resources, professional development and oversight to 59 Catholic schools in Harris, Brazoria, Galveston, Montgomery, Fort Bend, Austin, Grimes, San Jacinto, Walker and Waller counties.

The CSO is one of 60 ministries supported by the Diocesan Services Fund (DSF).

Through the CSO’s commitment to supporting the evangelizing mission of the Church to educate and form witnesses who transform the world, Catholic schools within the Archdiocese are actively celebrating the Jubilee Year of Mercy by serving those in need beyond the classroom. The CSO has encouraged administrators, teachers and students alike to incorporate the Seven Corporal Works of Mercy into their community service projects: feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, sheltering the homeless, visiting the sick and those in prison, burying the dead, and giving alms to the poor.

“Serving others helps us to become mindful stewards of all the blessings that we have been given,” said Vogel. “We will be sharing our service this year with the USCCB and Catholic schools across the country on social media platforms, including our own Catholic Schools’ Facebook page, by using the hashtag #mercyinmotion.”

Vogel believes these efforts complement the CSO’s overall mission to assist educators in the Archdiocesan Catholic schools with calling young people to holiness and preparing them to live and proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The office also collaborates with families to teach values and traditions of the Catholic faith, serve the community, and ensure academic excellence. 

Vogel said over the past two years, CSO has reorganized its department structure, which she believes will also better serve the schools.
“From our assistant superintendents and directors to our grouping of schools by a Cluster system, everyone shares a specific responsibility in building our students’ success and that is something that each of our staff takes to heart,” Vogel said. “As we work together to reach our goals for evangelization, enrollment and excellence, we are upholding students’ needs as our top priority.” 

Another area of improvement this year was in the ELA (English Language Arts) Committee, which is reviewing and assessing its curriculum to ensure that students receive the very best education possible. Throughout the summer months, the ELA Committee has been meeting to continue strengthening the standards of excellence for this academic year and beyond.

Vogel believes all this has been made possible through the support of the DSF.

“Every DSF-funded ministry touches lives and changes them for the better, sharing our Holy Father’s message of bringing hope to those in great need and to show them that God loves them and His Mercy endures forever,” said Vogel. “By supporting the DSF, you are actively living out your faith and bringing mercy to those in need. In the CSO, we are committed to helping our students develop into witnesses of the Gospel who bring the presence of Christ to their communities through not only their words but their actions in daily life.”