Welcome, Archbishop Wilton Gregory! The Education Secretariat of the Archdiocese of Washington joins the faithful of the archdiocese in extending a warm welcome and assurance of prayers as you begin your episcopal ministry in this local Church.
Catholic education was the setting in which your journey to the Catholic faith began and was nourished. The compassion, gentleness, and outreach you experienced as a sixth grader attending St. Carthage School in Chicago inspires and permeates our 92 Catholic schools and 139 parish religious education programs. In vibrant academic and faith formation communities led by dedicated principals, teachers, catechetical leaders and catechists you will encounter the same witness to faith, hope and love that brings the life-giving message of Jesus Christ to thousands of children from diverse families and communities.
Catholic education stands at the heart of the Church’s mission, now more than ever. Through vibrant faith formation and academically excellent educational programs, this local Church shines the radiant light of faith in Jesus Christ into the lives of the children we serve. Those entrusted with the Church’s educational mission – school principals, teachers, catechetical leaders and catechists – serve daily on the front lines of the evangelizing mission of Catholic education. They partner with parents for an academically excellent, faith filled education and spiritual and formation. Catholic educators across this archdiocese are preparing the next generation of leaders in society and the future generations of saints of the Church.
Here are some outstanding ways in which Catholic education in this local Church is an dynamic agent of the Church’s evangelizing mission in the nation’s capital.
1. Catholic education accompanies children and families
Students in our schools and religious education programs readily speak of their educational experience as belonging to a family, a home away from home. In classrooms and catechetical settings, Catholic educators extend daily a ministry of educational accompaniment to students from diverse economic and socio-cultural backgrounds. The Gospel is enculturated in our schools and catechetical settings through vibrant sacramental celebrations. The Eucharist is the “source and summit” of the spiritual formation our students receive while they grow in faith and knowledge of the world.
As teachers accompany students on their intellectual, spiritual, and human journeys, they sow seeds of respect, kindness, and selfless service of others. By accompanying the children entrusted to their care, Catholic educators restore in each child a confidence in their God-given dignity as a child of God and their capacity for selfless service of others that humanizes and transforms culture.
2. Catholic education is education for witness.
Catechists and teachers know that the gift of faith is the most consequential of gifts a child can receive through education. Faith transforms life with a transcendent worldview as it profoundly shapes who we are and who we become. A Catholic educator witnesses to the faith based conviction that each child is a gift from God, with a God-given capacity for a fulfilled life in service of others. For children who are Catholic and those from other faith traditions, the experience of Catholic education leads to a profound awareness of his or her God-given worth as a child of God. Teachers and catechists encounter each student not as a mere consumer of an educational product, but as a unique person with incomparable dignity. In a Catholic school, a child discovers his or her unique vocation to witness and compassion through the life God intends for them.
3. Catholic education is education for success
Catholic educators are dedicated to academic success. In schools and religious education programs across this archdiocese, the education of students is aligned to proven standards of academic rigor, intellectual excellence, and faith formation. We have been blessed with opportunities to assist dioceses who have turned to us for inspiration and guidance in discerning their own faith formation and educational standards of excellence.
Every day teachers and catechists encourage hard work, discipline, and personal responsibility that shapes the kind of person a child will grow up to be. Shaped by vital skills of critical thinking, self-reflection, and openness to the Holy Spirit, a Catholic education prepares them for their life’s vocation and success in their future professional careers.
Catholic education is a gift we are proud to share each day with the more than 26,000 students who walk through the door of one of the 92 Catholic schools, and the 23,500 students formed by more than 2,250 catechists, in this archdiocese.
Archbishop Gregory, all those dedicated to serving and extending your teaching ministry in your new pastoral home welcome you as we renew our commitment to the life transforming mission of Catholic education.
With prayer and renewed dedication to Catholic education under your leadership we look forward to making these words of your episcopal motto come alive in our classrooms, playgrounds, and hallways - “We are the Lord’s.”
Jem Sullivan, Ph.D. serves as Secretary for Education in the Archdiocese of Washington
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