(Cathedral of the Holy Cross, Boston – CNS photo/ Gregory L. Tracy, Pilot)
Last week, Catholic schools around the nation celebrated Catholic Schools Week. It is a week filled with activities aimed at celebrating the beauty of Catholic Schools and its benefits, and also a time to give thanks for all those who make Catholic Schools what they are. As a child, I was very blessed to attend Catholic school, and now as a parent, I am so blessed that our children have the gift of Catholic education also.
When I think back to this week as a child, one memory stands out. When I was in middle school, I was selected with only a couple of other students from my grade, to represent our school at the annual Catholic Schools Week Mass at the cathedral. I remember feeling that it was a huge honor. When I stepped into the cathedral I was fascinated by the size of the building. I believe it may have been the first time I stepped into the cathedral in my life, and I was enthralled. The architecture, the pillars, the paintings, the stations of the Cross, the statues and artwork throughout, the ornate altar, the ceiling so high it seemed, in a child’s mind, to touch the sky – such beauty. It captivated me. But what was even more amazing was sitting in this huge church filled to the brim with other middle school students from around the Archdiocese. So many young people of all different cultures, coming together to pray, to listen to God’s Word, to receive Jesus’ Body and Blood, to celebrate and pray for Catholic Schools everywhere. Students helped in all different areas – singing, reading, altar serving, etc… I still to this day remember the psalm being sung, gospel style. “The Lord is my strength, whom shall I fear?” And the petitions… children of many cultures read the petitions, each in their native language. Communion took forever it seemed because there were so many people. I remember that joy I felt being a part of such a special day. I find it interesting that I can recall so many details of this day, when I in general, have not many clear childhood memories as other people do. Perhaps, this one stands out clearly in my mind because it truly is important. To see the masses of young people, all there to celebrate what it truly means to be a Catholic school student, to be filled with Christ in the Word and in the Eucharist – together – to really walk toward our goal – to be saints – perhaps that is why this memory is so very clear, so many years later.
I believe in one, holy, CATHOLIC, and apostolic Church. I believe this was my first time experiencing the Catholic Church in that truly “Catholic” sense – with “Catholic’ meaning universal. I got to the see the Church at such a young age as a whole, as something bigger than just my parish, as something that encompasses the whole world. And I, this little 7th grader, was a part of it. I belonged to something, I truly belonged… to this amazing Church that was so vast, extending Her arms throughout every continent, every people, and yet at the very same time, so personal, bringing me Jesus in Holy Communion. How great a God we have, how amazing a Creator and Designer He is, to be able to create this dynamic, don’t you think?
Let us pray for all Catholic school leaders, teachers, priests, and parents, that they may be renewed in their faith and grow deeper in love with Christ, and with that may communicate Christ’s love to the students and children in their care. And we pray for all Catholic school students, that with the faith and example of their leaders, and the Truth taught in their schools, they may come to truly know Jesus, and love Him deeply, and filled with courage, accept their calling to become Saints!