Catholic Schools within the Diocese of Brooklyn are Very Special Places
By Thomas Chadzutko, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools
As we prepare for the beginning of the 2009-2010 school year, we must pause and reflect upon why the Catholic Schools within the Diocese of Brooklyn are very special places of learning for the students enrolled in them. This year the NCEA (National Catholic Education Association) has chosen as its theme for the year: “Catholic Schools - Dividends for Life: Morals, Discipline, Faith and Knowledge.” These four elements are the foundation found within our Catholic Schools.
The Mission of Catholic education and our Catholic Faith is paramount within the Catholic schools of the Diocese of Brooklyn. Our Catholic schools are places of evangelization, of complete formation and of service to others. Faith and morals go hand in hand and our Catholic schools work to ensure that all everyone who enters is treated with respect and where the values and virtues or the Gospel message are part of the fabric of the school. In his address to Catholic educators, his Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI stated: “Education is integral to the mission of the Church to proclaim the Good News. First and foremost every Catholic institution is a place to encounter the living God who in Jesus Christ reveals his transforming love and truth.” In our Catholic elementary schools each day, we witness and experience an environment that is built upon the values and virtues found in the Gospel. The Catholic Identity permeates all aspects of the school community and is at the forefront of all that we do. What are some of the ways; we encounter the living God in our schools? When you talk to a pastor, a parish priest, the principal and the teachers, you always hear about the religious experience the students have throughout the year: weekly and monthly liturgies, prayer services on special feast days, service to others, student of the month based on values and virtues and of course, the daily Religion class. The presence of our pastors and parish priests in the schools help to further develop the important relationship between parish and school. The school is a vital part of the parish community. As Bishop DiMarzio wrote in his Pastoral Letter: Be Not Afraid, “Our Catholic Schools need to assist our parishes in professing a common faith in Jesus Christ as well as develop the desire that all come to know and share in God’s life through Christ’s Body, the Church.” To attain a full understanding of our faith, “our Catholic school administrators and teachers should partner with parents in educating the whole child spiritually, academically, physically and emotionally.” (Bp DiMarzio – Pastoral Letter: Be Not Afraid). Our Catholic Faith is the cornerstone of our schools and our students are the future of our Catholic Church. We must continue to encourage them to be the bearers of the Good News.
Students within the Catholic schools are provided with a quality Catholic education. Knowledge is a key element to the success of our students and students are provided with the necessary tools to gain this knowledge. As noted in this edition of The Tablet, our students are performing very well on the New York State Assessments in Math and English Language Arts. Key to this success is that our students are being provided with a well round academic program that allows students to develop their thinking skills and apply what has been learned to real life situations. Students do well because of the partnership with home and school and the hard work and dedication of the teachers within the Catholic schools. Academic excellence is also vital to the success of Catholic education. Each year, teachers throughout the Diocese of Brooklyn participate in numerous Professional Development opportunities sponsored not only by the Diocese of Brooklyn but by other city, state and national agencies. We must recognize not only at the beginning of this new school year but throughout the entire school year, the efforts put forth by the teachers to provide students with quality Catholic education. Principals work tirelessly with their teachers to maintain and enhance the quality of Catholic education offered to the students throughout the Diocese of Brooklyn. Each year new programs are added and new learning opportunities are offered. Principals and teachers working with parents, the primary educators, prepare the students for the challenges of the future. His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI stated in his address: “that the reputation of Catholic institutes of learning in this country is largely due to yourselves and all involved in Catholic education.”
It was once stated that: “Faith Based schools provide a good solid academic foundation for children. They also help children understand the importance of discipline and character.” Our school communities develop students for the future. Not only in Religion classes but through the school day and in all subject areas, the principals and teachers strive to develop the whole child. Just take a look at the Philosophy/Mission Statement for your Catholic School. Most will clearly state that the children are taught to respect the rights others, that administration and teachers foster a positive self image in their students and that we work together with parents to help students develop a strong confidence that they can succeed.
Catholic schools are an important part of the not only the Diocese of Brooklyn not the entire United States. We have many challenges but need to work together to make our Catholic school: vital, viable, excellent and enduring. We have much to offer in our Catholic schools and it is through the dedication, hard work and untiring efforts of the priests, principals, teachers, staff, parishioners, parents, and students that we will continue to keep Catholic education at the forefront of all that we do.
Always remember that in all we do in Catholic education, “Christ is the reason for the school. He is the unseen but ever present teacher in its classes. He is the model of its faculty and the inspiration of its students. ”