Pastoral Thought




            School. As a boy, teenager, and well into manhood I found September a sober, even melancholy month. My favorite month was August, and my favorite place the beach and the open water. It all ended in September. (Yet, I cherish my school years, especially high school.)

            Now I feel very differently—not so much because I can now go to the beach in September (!) but because school to me means hope, a conviction that the future will be better, that each young person’s hidden potential can be realized, that the next generation will come to insights that evaded us.

            So I am a strong supporter of schools. First of all, I support Catholic schools. We had a good one here at St. Catherine’s, and now it continues at All Saints. So I visit All Saints at least bi-weekly, to offer Mass and to teach religion. The culture of a Catholic school integrates faith with science, math with literature, with teaching persons to reason, think, and form sound judgments about how to live, personally and in society. We will always have Catholic Schools, primary through university level, because society needs this.

            I support public schools, including charter and vocational schools. A majority of our young people are students there. The principals, counsellors, teachers and coaches are, in my experience, highly committed to the development of the students. They include some of you. I visit public schools where our children attend whenever I can. My purpose is twofold:  to encourage our children, many of whose parents are immigrants, to take their education seriously; and to also signal to educators that churches  and religion are their partners in the forming of children's mind and character. The public school cannot enter into a child’s soul, to speak of faith in God, and the way of life that God requires of  him or her. The child’s church and family can (and must) do that. We are here to form the conscience of a young person through our teaching about God.

            So at St. Catherine’s we pray regularly for our schools, private, Catholic, and public. Sometimes all, sometimes a particular school or district. We pray especially for those who have asked our prayers, e.g., Red Clay District. The blessing at Mass today acknowledges the great hope that education offers and commits us—parents, students, educators, pastors—to work to draw forth the knowledge and moral awareness that the Holy Spirit infuses in our children.

Father John Hynes