Mr. Brian Ching, C.S.C, our seminarian out at St. John Vianney Parish in Goodyear, AZ, has sent his latest post on life in the parish. Picking up from the profile on Wednesday on Fr. Joe, who actually founded and built the school at St. John Vianney, Brian shares a reflection on the importance of Catholic education and the hope it brings.
Over the past month or so I have had the privilege of attending two very special and important events. The first event was the Night of Hope, a charity dinner put on by the diocesan schools office in order to raise funds for scholarships to give more children the opportunity to attend a Catholic School. The second event was our parish’s very own Fall Gala, a charity auction and dinner to raise funds for the St. John Vianney School.
Both these events were reminders of the extreme importance of Catholic education in the life of the Church and society at large. I am so blessed that our parish here in Goodyear has an elementary school attached to it. Day in and day out, I get to see the fruit of Catholic education in our school children and I am constantly amazed and impressed with their intelligence and their profound love of the Lord.
Last Tuesday, I asked the school children “why do we celebrate thanksgiving” as we prepared to celebrate the holiday. I was amazed that instead of getting the usual story about the pilgrims, the Mayflower, and Plymouth Rock, they responded with the importance of giving thanks to God for all the blessings he has given us. This is why Catholic education is so integral to the life and mission of the Church. As Father Moreau said, we are responsible not only for training good citizens of the world, but also citizens of heaven, ready to serve the kingdom of God. However the tuition and the uniform alone do not make the Catholic school; no amount of credit in the world can be afforded to the school’s faculty and staff to satisfy the great work that they do in educating both the minds and hearts of our children. Nor can enough credit be given to the parents of our school children who sacrifice so much to send their children to our school and who work diligently to reinforce the lessons taught in school at home.
As we reflect on the theme of hope during the Advent season, I cannot think of a greater sign or source of hope for our world and our Church than our children and I cannot think of any better way to foster and nurture that hope into reality than through Catholic education. Our students here at St. John Vianney learn not only reading, writing, and arithmetic, but they also become keenly aware of the role that God plays in their lives. I am constantly amazed with the innate understanding of the concept of vocation. Though they are still a bit young to have a clear vision and understanding of what their vocation is, they are very much aware that God is calling them to a vocation and that it is their responsibility to discern that vocation and follow it. As the Church continues to try to spread the Gospel message is a world that is often hostile to it, there is no more important group to form well in the faith than our youth. Our support of Catholic education is integral to bringing the hope that Christ promises.