Part II of abbreviated from remarks given at “Theology on Tap” for NWA Catholic Young Professionals- August 28, 2017. The focus of the remarks are toward young professionals (young parents or future parents) and need for Catholic Education, particularly in the 21st century.
“The Church’s primary mission of evangelization, in which educational institutions play a crucial role, is to develop a society truly worthy of the human person’s dignity.” The New Evangelization ushered in by the Second Vatican Council and clearly taught and lived by St. John Paul II at the end of the millennium is what I believe reignited the Church’s teaching of Evangelization for man but also for its institutions. Until St. John Paul II’s pontificate, the church perhaps was clouded by the unprecedented explosion of man’s move to dominate the world, his fellow man, and even God himself. Sadly, toward the end of his life Archbishop Fulton Sheen observed, “I tell my relatives and best friends, ‘If you want your children to fight for their faith, send them to public school. If you want them to lose their faith, send them to Catholic school.’” This cannot be said of all Catholic schools during his time nor the intention of this who were educational leaders. Yet one could observe that the mission of Catholic schools had gone astray. One may only look at the “Land of Lakes” statement as an example of which Archbishop Sheen lamented.
Where there are Christians there is hope. As instructions may become clouded, it is individual persons who befriend Christ and carry him wherever and with whomever they interact. Teachers have the ability to bring the light of Christ to each student in the classroom, to each parent they engage with, and to their fellow teachers as they live their vocation side-by-side.
The words of Pope Paul VI are true today as they were 40 years ago: “Modern man listens more willingly to witnesses than to teachers, and if he does listen to teachers, it is because they are witnesses." What teachers do and how they act are more significant than what they say – inside and outside the classroom. That's how the Church evangelizes. With the beginning of the new millennium the Church has reinvigorated the importance of Catholic schools in forming young people as the Secretary of the Congregation of Catholic Education, Archbishop Michael Miller wrote, "The more completely an educator can give concrete witness to the model of the ideal person [Christ] that is being presented to the students, the more this ideal will be believed and imitated.” Ozark Catholic Academy is a school steeped in the rigor of high academics but also rooted in the New Evangelization.
Enter to Learn, Leave to Serve
How do we do it?
Fr. James Schall, S.J., in ruminating on the idea of eliminating football from high school states, "I remain one of those men who are glad to see fall season roll around. Still when Nile Kinnick’s Iowa Hawkeyes defeated Notre Dame by a score of 7-0, in 1939, it was a crushing blow to us few Catholics in Knoxville.” Can you imagine yourself as a Catholic in Iowa in the 1930’s there were not very many…what was the source of evangelizing, Notre Dame football…It may not be that easy today or is it? Three ordinary ways to evangelize in your “little platoon”
1. Marriage: Spouses discuss your relationship with each other and talk about how to grow as a couple
2. Parenting: Talk through the struggles of making good and bad decisions in raising children.
3. Family vs. Work: Purposely balance professional careers and goals with family life.
Chesterton’s challenge is for each one of us: “The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult and left untried.” (G.K. Chesterton, "What's Wrong with the World”). Changing the world happens by beginning within ourselves first, and then among those closest to us.
*We are grateful to UV Images for allowing our use of two photos in this post.