By Karla Luke
JACKSON – Things have been very active in the Office of Catholic Education since school began in August. It hardly seems possible that the first quarter for our administrators, faculty and students has come and gone. The 2022-2023 school year is significant for us as we fully embrace our annual theme of service; the Office of Catholic Education (OCE) seeks to better serve the school community at large by providing more support for administrators, teachers and students.
For the first time since the pandemic, the Office of Catholic Education held the annual Diocesan Professional Development Day for Catholic Schools in person at St. Joseph Catholic School in Madison.The event welcomed over 450 teachers, teacher assistants, staff, administrators and pastors from 19 different institutions for Mass, spiritual refreshment and reconnection.
Members of the chancery also joined us on this special day with the educators. The day began with Bishop Joseph Kopacz celebrating Mass and sharing his message with all for a spirit-filled and successful school year.
The keynote speaker for the morning was Father R. Tony Ricard, a priest for the Archdiocese of New Orleans and the campus minister and theology teacher at St. Augustine High School in New Orleans.
Father Tony spoke on the Office of Education’s theme for the year: “Serve the Lord with gladness!” As a former third grade public school teacher, Father Tony related to the difficulties educators face while uplifting them and connecting their experience with our vocation as Catholic school educators.
During the afternoon, teachers met in small groups to discuss common issues and share best practices for addressing current issues facing schools today. Some groups met with chancery employees to discuss daily practices, new policies and procedures. The feedback for the day was very positive and illustrated the importance of gathering in the community.
Another significant project that the Office of Catholic Schools is currently undertaking is strategic planning for all schools, Early Learning Centers and the Office of Catholic Education.
Since the pandemic surged worldwide in March 2020, the face of education has also undergone significant changes. The current social-emotional status of our students, the economic state of our state and country, and the rapid pace of technological development all call for a revaluation of our mission and vision to continue providing opportunities for an exceptional Catholic education in the Diocese of Jackson. The Office of Catholic Education will continue to provide updates on this initiative as they become available.
Please continue to support Catholic education in the Diocese of Jackson by supporting your local parish schools. If there is no school in your parish, please support our administrators, teachers and school families with your prayers to produce service-oriented citizens of the Gospel.
(Karla Luke is the executive director of Catholic School for the Diocese of Jackson)