Updated: Feb 15, 2022
The following story appeared in the January 28 Idaho Catholic Register.
Francis Muwonge, a St. Joseph Catholic School second-grader, lectors at Mass. (Courtesy photo)
By Sarah Quilici
A second-grade student stands at the ambo at the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist and announces, “A reading from the Prophet Isaiah.”
This second-grade student is proclaiming the word of God in front of his peers, and he is doing it with poise and confidence. He is also learning how to be part of the ministry of a parish. On an academic level, he is getting an authentic opportunity to present his speaking and reading skills. This is the beauty and value of our Catholic schools. Our Catholic schools develop the whole child, and children have an opportunity to learn in an environment of faith.
The week of Jan. 30 through Feb. 5 is Catholic Schools Week. This week is an opportunity to recognize and support the Catholic schools in our parishes. It is also the beginning of the enrollment season for Catholic schools. Check to see if your school is offering tours and open houses.
During the 2021-22 school year, Idaho Catholic school enrollment increased by 7 percent. All 16 schools in the Diocese of Boise experienced some growth this year. More than 4,000 students are being served. What are the reasons for this growth?
One reason is the way Idaho Catholic schools navigated the pandemic. During the last year, our schools were open for in-person learning all year, which helps support students’ spiritual, academic, physical and mental growth.
Another reason parents choose Idaho Catholic schools is that they partner with parents. Parents are involved in the lives of the school community, supporting the school with their time, talent, and treasure. Parents value Catholic schools because they are safe places.
Idaho Catholic schools teach the faith. Students learn about the sacraments, have many opportunities to attend Mass and have a role in the Mass, whether it is proclaiming the readings, offering intercessory prayers or bringing up the gifts. Faith, discipline, and values are central in a Catholic education.
Catholic schools can be a refuge for students and give them hope during their formative years. As educators, we do not often get to see the fruit of our labor, but that does not mean it is not there.
Recently, I had the opportunity to visit with an alumna of a Catholic school. She said she had a rough childhood, so her Catholic school was a place of refuge and safety. The teachers were like parents to this student as she navigated major life decisions. This student spent time in college wandering from the faith, but the seeds that were planted in her Catholic school remained.
I want to thank our teachers, principals, instructional aides, bus drivers, custodians, business managers, food service workers, and all who have kept Idaho Catholic schools open during this time. It has truly been a team effort, and there have been many challenges. Staff at our schools continue to be present in their jobs, and this allow seeds of faith to be planted. Catholic school employees are just part of the network of evangelization that occurs throughout Idaho.
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