Catholic schools show children their God-given light

By Jim Rigg
Sunday, September 18, 2016

School is back in session in the 217 Catholic schools of the Archdiocese of Chicago. This fall, we are welcoming over 77,000 students back into our classrooms, more than any diocese in the United States. Our schools are filled with a genuine sense of energy, freshness and hope for a great school year ahead.

Having visited dozens of schools in my initial months as superintendent, I have been amazed at the quality of teaching and learning taking place. By any measure, our schools are providing an outstanding education. We have earned more Blue Ribbon Awards from the U.S. Department of Education than any other school district (public or private), and our schools have received numerous accolades from colleges, business and community groups.

The best evidence of our excellence can be found in our students themselves, who graduate from our schools equipped with the knowledge and skills they need to find success in life. Alumni of our schools can be found in positions of leadership and influence in the Chicago area and throughout the world.

More importantly, our schools are fostering the faith development of our students. Catholic schools exist to teach the faith, inspiring each student to discern and follow their unique calling from God. Not only do our schools teach academics, but we uphold each child as a unique and precious creation, inspiring them to positively transform the world around them.

For the 2016-2017 school year, we have introduced the unified theme of “We are the light of the world.” In the fifth chapter of the Gospel of Matthew, Christ reminds us that we are God’s light and that we must spread this light to those around us.

Our Catholic schools help each child recognize their own God-given light. By providing an environment of love, hospitality and compassion, we enable each child to spread God’s light through service and prayer. In this way, our schools also become God’s light, spreading faith and knowledge throughout the communities they serve.

This image of light takes on a special meaning as we thoughtfully plan for the future of our schools. In recent decades, our Catholic schools have faced an array of intense challenges. We have been affected by shifts in populations, social attitudes and economic pressures. In spite of this, Catholic schools are, and will remain, a priority for our local church. Our schools are essential to our future, as we partner with parents to raise the next generation in the faith.

Over the next few months, we will be finalizing our new strategic plan for Catholic school education. This plan will provide us with a clear road map for our future, identifying key goals to foster the quality, faith formation and vitality of every Catholic school in the Archdiocese of Chicago. Our plan represents our commitment to the ongoing ministry of Catholic education.

As we welcome our students back to school, I am filled with gratitude for the many people who support our Catholic schools. I am thankful to work in an archdiocese that recognizes and upholds the unique mission of our Catholic schools. May God’s light continue to shine upon us!


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