This week we celebrate “Catholic Schools Week,” with the theme of “Catholic Schools: Faith, Excellence, Service.” Catholic education has always been a priority for the Catholic bishops of our nation. For many years, Catholic schools had been staffed primarily by dedicated nuns, religious brothers, and priests. They are now staffed primarily by dedicated lay teachers who truly view teaching as their vocation. These teachers strive to educate and form students who will embrace and spread the faith.
The National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA), stated, “Catholic schools have a specific purpose to form students to be good citizens of the world, love God and neighbor and enrich society with the leaven of the gospel and by the example of faith. As communities of faith, Catholic schools instill in students their destiny to become saints. Academic excellence is the hallmark of Catholic education intentionally directed to the growth of the whole person – mind, body, and spirit. Finally, service is fundamental to Catholic education and the core of Catholic discipleship. Service is intended to help form people who are not only witnesses to Catholic social teaching but also active participants through social learning.”
As we reflect on these comments, and as we celebrate Catholic Schools Week, it is appropriate to note that this coming Wednesday, we will also celebrate the feast day of Saint Brigid of Kildare, the patron saint of our Parish. She is also the patron saint of students. Catholic education was very important to her. Saint Brigid worked to see that the Catholic faith was taught clearly and thoroughly, and she founded several schools.
Saint Brigid was an Irish Christian nun who was known for her extraordinary spirituality. Along with Saint Patrick and others, she played a major role in making Ireland a Christian nation. Many would travel long distances to seek her spiritual advice and counsel. Many were led to the faith through her words and actions.
She is traditionally associated with the Cross of Saint Brigid, which is made from reeds or straw and is often placed in homes for blessing and protection. Saint Brigid is also associated with Christian charity and is celebrated for her generosity to those in need. It was said that she could not bear to see anyone cold or hungry since she truly believed that Christ dwelt in every person. She labored among the less fortunate with love and compassion. Her love of God and love of neighbor were obvious to all who knew her.
As we celebrate the life of our patron saint, may we also look to her for guidance and strive to follow her example.
Saint Brigid, intercede for us. Saint Brigid, pray for us.