By Isaak A. Isaak.
Again, this year, the Diocese of Covington and dioceses across the United States celebrated Catholic Schools Week a week ago.
This annual observance usually begins the last Sunday in January and runs throughout the Week, which this year was Jan. 28 through Feb. 3.
Each year, the National Catholic Education Association (NCEA) selects a theme and every Catholic school across the country plans activities around this theme. In addition to special school activities for students, families, and the community at large, students also attend Mass at local parishes and sending student and teacher representatives to the local Mother Church, in our case the Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption.
This year’s theme for Catholic Schools Week is “United in Faith and Community.”
This is a vital and appropriate theme for all our teachers and catechists because this is what they do daily. They teach the faith in our communities. It is truly a beautiful theme. Teachers and catechists are indeed agents of teaching the faith.
When I think of Catholic Schools Week, I immediately think of our schoolteachers and catechists who teach the faith in our Catholic schools and parishes. They are the ones who stand as witnesses to the person of Jesus Christ in their classrooms. St. Paul, in his letter to the Romans, says, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news.” (Romans 10:15)
Our teachers and catechists are agents of good news. They bring good news to our students in the classrooms. Christ becomes present in the classrooms. They touch the lives of all the young people who come to our schools and parish religious education programs by teaching the Word of God. They are great examples and evangelizers of the faith. And we are truly grateful for what they do on behalf of the parents, who are the first catechists of their children.
Every year, I look forward to seeing our students in their school uniforms when they come to the Cathedral to attend Mass. I especially like seeing them as they approach the altar, lining up to receive Holy Communion. They stand up and make a statement of faith by receiving the Bread of Life. Indeed, this is great statement of faith, believing that the author of life, Jesus, is truly present in the Eucharist. Of course, they make statements of faith every day in learning the faith, in serving the community, in leading and succeeding in the Catholic way of life.
To further strengthen these great and beautiful institutions of learning, the Diocese of Covington has developed a unique partnership with the Franciscan University’s Catechetical Institute. This partnership with the Institute will enable the Office Catechesis and Evangelization along with the Catholic Schools Office to provide workshop tracks at no charge, and with unlimited access to over 200 courses, to our parish and school catechetical leaders, catechists, and schoolteachers.
For anyone who lives, serves, and worships in the Diocese of Covington, Bishop John Iffert is generously providing these workshops to all at no cost. Detailed information about this will be coming soon.
It is our hope that teachers and catechists will immerse and engage themselves in these workshops so that through their own formation they will form others in our beautiful faith.
Our teachers and catechists are sowers of the seed — the Word of God (Romans 10:17). These resources will assist in doing just that. It is my hope and prayer that whenever they sow the seeds of faith, these seeds will take root in the lives and experiences of all the youth of our Diocese.
Teachers and catechists are ordinary people who perform an extraordinary duty because they teach as Jesus teaches and teach in his name. They are faithful to the author of life by dedicating themselves to deepening the faith of the present generation. They teach and live the faith just like Jesus.
Jesus — Teacher of teachers and Catechist of catechists — bless our teachers and catechists throughout this year and beyond. Amen!
Isaak A. Isaak is co-director of the Office of Catechesis and Evangelization.