Sometimes those of us engaged in Catholic schools can be heard to say: the best job in education is to be the principal at an orphanage! What, you say? Well, there generally by definition are no parents for children in orphanages. Parents can be very challenging when one attempts to run a school system and it is getting worse not better. Sixty years ago when I was in primary school, the parental rule of thumb was, “get punished by your teacher and you will get it a second time when you get home.” That’s not so true these days and occasionally the parental mantra is, “the next voice you hear will be that of my lawyer.” So administrators and educators often walk on the proverbial “eggshells” trying to teach children and mollify parents sometimes at the same time.
If I had one wish during this Catholic schools week, it would be that all parents share with us the obligation of educating in faith. Just dropping the children off for classes is not a reason for operating this large and financially challenging system of schools. It is a good thing I am not a parish pastor or principal because I would be constantly on parents who do not bring their children to Sunday Mass and I would not care who they are. My bishop would probably remove me for being too confrontational and perhaps inflexible. We seldom hear from parents about matters pertaining to the religious education of their children. Admittedly parents are along with the parish or diocese major stakeholders in the operation and direction of the school. They pay a lot of money and they rightly expect results, in every area except, it often seems, the faith-life of their children. And when the children are grown and no longer practice, it is likely to be those same parents who will say, “I don’t know what happened. I spent all that money to give them a Catholic school education and now look at what happened?”
Allow me one other thing off my chest now that I am using this blog entry as something of a soap-box or bully pulpit. When a school takes an administrative action, be it with a student or with a faculty member, staff member or member of the administration, it can not and will not reveal the nature of the cause which precipitated the action. Current laws surrounding the rights of workers protect them and the hiring entity must respect those laws. Ask any professional person in a business with more than a dozen employees and they will tell you what I am writing is correct. There often is and can be no response in the part of the institution. The agrieved can say, suggest, intimate, hint whatever they wish but the employer can not respond in kind. Our diocesan institutions are becoming much more sophisticated in handling human resources problems. We are far from perfect. But we try. Just once or twice can we not be given the benefit of the doubt? End of this “thread” of thoughts while shaving during Catholic Schools week.
This morning I offered the Liturgy of the Eucharist at Clearwater Central Catholic High School. The school community was very welcoming and the students paid close attention during my homily. I think they will be talking about it, among themselves and in class, for the rest of the day and sometime thereafter.
They have a classmate, Michael Quinn, who is currently in All Children’s Hospital in isolation and awaiting a heart transplant which is necessary for him to live. Please join the school community and myself in praying for Michael whom his classmates miss and fear for his life.