Where Does the Time Go?
Sister Ellen Rose Coughlin, SSJ
Superintendent of Schools
Where does the time go? August is well underway and once again I am reminded how quickly the summer is slipping away. One vivid reminder of days to come is the number of advertisements on television and in the newspapers which are offering special sales for back to school items. A television story this past week reported that parents will spend on average $100 per child for back to school supplies. The newspaper recently printed flyers announcing “Back to School Sales” – “super,” “extraordinary,” and “special” sales that one should not miss.
As I prepared to write this article my mind turned to the students who would be attending our Catholic schools, the unique mission of our schools and the Year of Faith announced by Pope Benedict XVI. I think they are related.
Our students, children of God, made in His image and likeness, destined to know, love and serve Him in this life and, one day, to enter eternal life – certainly their formation and education is vital to the life of our nation and the Church. The philosopher Plato wrote, “. . . the beginning is the most important part of any work, especially in the case of a young and tender thing; for that is the time at which the character is being formed and the desired impression is more readily taken. Shall we just carelessly allow children to hear any casual tales . . . to receive into their minds ideas for the most part the very opposite of those which we should wish them to have when they are grown up” (Plato’s Republic)? Schools play an essential role in the formation and education of children and young people.
Every school, including our Catholic schools, are institutions which provide for the assimilation of the knowledge and skills necessary for life, a systematic and critical assimilation of culture and the development of persons who are attentive to sincere interpersonal relationships which foster the well-being of others. But our Catholic schools do this within the framework of our Catholic faith and its integration into all subject areas and the entire school environment.
Blessed Pope John Paul II called Catholic schools “a gift to the nation” (Pastoral Visit to the United States, 1987). Pope Benedict XVI considers Catholic educational institutions places where students encounter the living God made known in Jesus Christ (Cf. Address to Catholic Educators in the United States, 2008). Without a doubt Catholic schools have a unique opportunity and a grave responsibility to participate in the mission of the Church, the proclamation of the Gospel.
In our Catholic schools, students learn about their Catholic faith. Christ is the foundation of the whole educational activity. Learning about their faith certainly includes knowledge about the content of their faith. But this knowledge is not theory or abstract information. Rather, it is knowledge of a person and includes the personal experience of being known and loved by Christ and in turn, knowing, loving and following Him.
Where does the time go? We might ask ourselves this question also as we prepare for the Year of Faith that will begin on October 12, 2012. This opening date is significant. October 11, 2012 is the fiftieth anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council and the twentieth anniversary of the publication of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Fifty years ago, twenty years ago – where does the time go? However, the Holy Father reminds us, “The ‘door of faith’ is always open for us, ushering us into the life of communion with God and offering entry into his Church” (Door of Faith, # 1).