Catholic School Hot Air Balloon

The Craziness of Catholic Schools

My wife Brenda and I have four kids—ages 9, 15, 19 and 22—and they each drive us crazy in their own way. That’s what kids do. They ask for money, they make messes, and they require lots of time and energy. Life would be much simpler without them. Simpler, but also more hollow. Our children bring us life, they keep us from taking things too seriously, and they draw us closer to God. They take us out of ourselves and teach us the meaning of unconditional love.

The same thing can be said about a parish Catholic school: it takes a lot of money to operate; it puts a lot of wear on the buildings; and it requires a lot of time and energy to maintain. Parish life would be much simpler without a school. But just as the heartaches and headaches our kids cause are worth it, so are the challenges that come with operating a parish school.

School children bring a special kind of life to a parish community. They remind us of the importance of laughter and recreation. They help a parish fulfill its mission to evangelize.

There’s something deeply spiritual about watching a class of children kneel in prayer, trusting that God is listening. The noise of laughter from the playground is a sign of life and joy to a parish. It means God is present, that the Church is being renewed in the hearts of these young disciples who are just learning how to live like Jesus.

Just as children were brought to Jesus so that he might lay hands on them and pray, parents bring their children to their parishes to be touched by the hand of the Savior.

During this Catholic Schools Week, we remember not to follow the example of the disciples who tried to rebuke the children for coming to Jesus, but instead we open our hearts to hear the Lord’s words:

“Let the children come,” Jesus said, “and do not prevent them; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”

Let the children come to our parish schools. Let them come with their grimy hands, their uncontrollable giggles, their fidgety fingers, and their raging hormones.

Praise God for the craziness of parenthood, and praise God for Catholic schools.

This article was written for Notre Dame’s ACE Advocates annual series of reflections on Catholic Schools. You can find the entire series for this year at the ACE website.
Bishop George Lucas

Bishops Write and Speak about the Value of Catholic Schools

Happy Catholic Schools Week! We take time this week to celebrate the gift of Catholic education and to spread the word about the value of Catholic schools.

Several bishops have already begun their celebration of Catholic Schools Week by publishing their thoughts on Catholic education.


Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone:

…we see that we are greatly blessed with a well-developed education system poised and ready to serve our families and greater community well into this new Christian millennium, thanks especially to dedicated teachers, parents, administrators, benefactors and volunteers. To all of you I say: Thank you!

Bishop Dennis J. Sullivan:

I call on all of you who were given the great gift of Catholic education to contact your alma mater or another Catholic school to offer in gratitude for your Catholic education the support of your treasure, time and talent. I ask that each of us do what we can to encourage and support those who want a Catholic education but cannot afford it. Finally, I challenge all of us to get more vocal with our public officials and press them about aid to our Catholic Schools.

Bishop David Walkowiak (pdf)

I invite all Catholic families to think about the benefits of a Catholic school education for your children. Catholic schools not only present families and the Church a powerful opportunity for evangelization, but they are also effective in their mission of educating the whole person and have been consistent in producing successful graduates for over 150 years – students with higher academic achievement and a greater likelihood of practicing their faith, participating in
ministry, being civically engaged, giving generously, performing service, earning higher wages, and considering an ordained or religious vocation.

Bishop George J. Lucas:

Bishop Donal McKeown:

Catholic Students

“Never, ever, ever, ever bet against…Catholic education”

That was the message former Catholic school administrator John James gave to an audience at St. Louis University on January 17, 2014:

John James“Never, ever, ever, ever bet against the Catholic Church or Catholic education. That is a fool’s bet. When the chips are the lowest, that is exactly when the game-changer happens.”

Demographic shifts, changing attitudes, leadership issues and finances are driving the struggles, he noted. However, James said, Catholic education has always faced these problems and has endured. He cited several instances.

In the early 1800s, Bishop Benedict Flaget of Bardstown, Ky., came to visit St. Louis and reported indifference among Catholics and a Church “in total disrepair.” Bishop Louis DuBourg arrived in St. Louis and cited an extreme personnel challenge. But he successfully recruited religious in Europe to come here and turned things around.

In the early 20th century, many of the women religious who staffed the schools had little or no training. But again, the challenge was met and they were trained. By 1972, a massive departure of religious orders from teaching was under way and even more predicted to leave in the next decade. Worries were expressed that lay teachers would not be able to fill the gap.

“Crisis is part of our DNA as Catholic schools,” James said. “While we do have some present challenges, we ought not be too afraid.”

Read the rest of the article at the St. Louis Review.



Catholic School Teacher Wins App Award

Canadian teacher Bruno Stranges of St. Mary Catholic School in Welland, ON, has developed an app to help people give to charity. From the Fort Erie Times:

Bruno Stranges
Image source:

The Niagara Falls teacher has been coming up with app ideas for a number of years but discovered that developing and marketing an app can be a costly endeavour.

“I have these ideas since tablets came out but I found out that some apps are $30,000 to develop,” he said.

In December, however, the tides turned when he discovered Applits, a U.S.-based company that does all the legwork for budding app creators.

“The concept was great,” he said. “They want to make to make peoples’ dreams come true.”

Applits recently held a contest asking for app ideas and Stranges submitted an idea of an app that makes it easy for users to donate to a charity of their choice.

The app identifies charities based on a user’s preferences whether it’s from a recently-watched YouTube video or a news story.

“The goal is for it to be intuitive,” Stranges explained.

Users can donate to a charity and also win points towards additional monetary funds to use towards a future donation.

His iDonate app impressed the judges who felt the app fit perfectly with the company’s AppForCharity campaign.


NASA Sofia

Catholic School Teacher Selected for NASA Science Flights

Exciting STEM news for Carmel Catholic High School in Mundelein, Illinois:

MUNDELEIN, Ill.— NASA’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, or SOFIA, will become a flying classroom for Carmel Catholic science teacher Marcella Linahan during research flights that she will participate in as an Airborne Astronomy Ambassador.

Marcella LinahanMs. Linahan and her partner, Lynne Zielinski from the National Space Society, Long Grove, Ill., are one of twelve two-person teams that have been selected for SOFIA’s Airborne Astronomy Ambassadors program, representing educators from 10 states.

In April, Ms. Linahan will spend one week at Dryden Aircraft Operations Facility in Palmdale, Calif. training and then flying on SOFIA for two missions. Each team will be paired with a professional astronomer to observe how airborne infrared astronomy is conducted. After her flight opportunity, Ms. Linahan will take what she has learned back to Carmel Catholic to promote science literacy.

“I am excited that I can experience astronomical data collection first-hand, and then bring this data and experience back to my students,” Ms. Linahan remarked. “I am passionate about exposing the students to authentic science research. I want them to realize that a STEM career is something that is exciting and obtainable.”

Read the whole story at the Mundelein Review.

News and Resources for Catholic Educators