Thank you for supporting Catholic schools

Message from the Office of education
By Karla Luke

Every year, for the past 49 years, the National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA) has designated the last Sunday in January as the beginning of National Catholic Schools Week. Activities conducted throughout this special week are intended to raise the profile of the benefits of Catholic education in our communities and our nation. We remember and celebrate the courage of the early bishops who sought to create a school system whereby schools could pass on our Catholic faith through education to all future generations. We express our pillars of faith, excellence and service through daily living out our Catholic faith and values in our schools, focusing on each student reaching their highest potential and serving our communities.

The experience of a Catholic education was the most precious gift my parents gave to my brothers and me. My mother was a public-school teacher in the sixties and seventies, while my father was a postal employee. As you may know, these jobs were considered respectable jobs, but in no way were we considered wealthy. My parents sacrificed to keep all three children in Catholic schools from kindergarten through high school. The people we are today are primarily because of the partnership that existed between our family and our schools. Our parents and schools taught us the value of our faith, honesty, integrity, service and hard work.

National Catholic Schools Week is the most appropriate time to express our thanks to all who support Catholic Education in the Diocese of Jackson. We thank Bishop Joseph Kopacz for his assistance to our Catholic schools through his prayers, for providing resources for operations and for his presence at our schools to interact with administrators, staff and students. His actions signal the value of this ministry to the Catholic community and, most of all, to our students. We stress and affirm that the students in our schools today are our present and future church. In the Office of Catholic Education, we would also like to thank the diocesan staff and departments who continue to assist our schools by sharing their areas of expertise, including financial, communications, development, faith formation, stewardship, liturgy and in many other areas.

We thank the pastors and canonical administrators who lead our schools and support school administrators, staff and students. Our pastors and canonical administrators are in our schools frequently, providing examples of what it is to be prayerful and compassionate Catholic men. Their representation of how they live their vocation is sure to inspire our students as they grow and begin to discern their own vocations in life.

We thank our administrators, who tirelessly give of themselves to the success of their schools. The job of an administrator is often “eight days a week.” The success and safety of the students, the well-being of the faculty and staff, and parents’ satisfaction are constant goals before them. I have personally witnessed the energy and care they invest in their schools. We cannot thank them enough.

We thank our teachers who interact with our students on a daily basis. Teachers and teacher assistants, and students spend nearly 40 hours a week together. Teachers and their assistants have the closest personal relationships with our students and are committed to their academic success and personal growth and development. Our teachers are devoted to preparing their students for successful futures and helping them achieve their highest potential.

We thank our support staff: administrative assistants, facility managers, maintenance and janitorial crews and cafeteria staff. Without their contributions, our schools could not function effectively. We appreciate that every school employee must be committed to student success, no matter their job title.

I thank the Diocesan Council of Catholic Education for your continued commitment to Catholic education in the Diocese of Jackson. Your support has been unwavering.

Finally, to our students and families … we would not exist without your faith in Catholic education! We thank you for your dedication and for entrusting your most precious resources to our care. Please believe that we are constantly exploring ways to make our great schools even more excellent by yielding students who love and serve Christ and are positive, productive and contributing members of their communities.

The theme for National Catholic Schools Week this year is Faith … Excellence … Service. The annual theme chosen for this year by schools in our diocese is taken from Psalm 100:2, “Serve the Lord with Gladness.” One of the national pillars of Catholic schools is service. In the Diocese of Jackson, our students, teachers and administrators participated in many service projects this year. It is exciting to see how each school has served its communities. Please enjoy this issue and continue to keep all schools and the members they serve in your prayers. God bless you and thank you!