Posts Tagged ‘Clearwater Central Catholic High School’

COMINGS AND GOINGS

Tuesday, June 3rd, 2014

I can see the light at the end of the annual “spring” tunnel and so can many of our priests, educators, parish personnel and others engaged in the enterprise of spreading the Gospel in the five counties of the diocese. As I write this, I have four more confirmations scheduled, one cook-out tomorrow night with those few seminarians remaining in the diocese for the summer and the graduation exercise next Monday night for this year’s participants in the Lay Pastoral Ministry effort. I have two commitments outside of the diocese in the next three weeks including a meeting in New York of the Catholic Medical Mission Board on which I serve and an invitation to give the first Bishop Joseph Sullivan lecture as the keynoter at the annual Catholic Health Association Assembly in Chicago. I think I’ll make it! So allow me a few paragraphs to do some summing up of the year in review.

First, I wish to express my profound gratitude to many of you who through comments, e-mails, and letters, etc., shared with me your sorrow for Father Vladimir Dziadek and your concern for myself. No blog entry has achieved the number of comments as did the last posted here and with a single exception of one person who utilized two comment opportunities, all have embraced the twin themes of forgiveness and mercy. Father’s funeral in Poland is today (June 3, 2014) and my Mass this evening will attempt to connect spiritually with those with whom he had familial ties as they grieve his loss. St. Joseph parish under their new administrator, Father Carlos Rojas, is recovering very well with renewed energy and commitment from everyone and that is reassuring.

My annual rounds of the high school baccalaureate Masses (Jesuit, Clearwater Central and Tampa Catholic) and graduations (St. Petersburg Catholic, the Academy of the Holy Names, and Bishop McLaughlin High School) are now history. I have listened to four salutatorian addresses (St. Petersburg Catholic had a tie for this honor), three valedictorian addresses, five lengthy remarks from school principals, and way too many acknowledgments of my presence at the events which reminded me too much of the old days when the bishop was treated like royalty.  I have been impressed with the seriousness of the graduates this year in particular, with the love and admiration they hold both for their sacrificing parents as well as their teachers (quite often mentioned by name) and their references to their basic faith in God. At times it has seemed like a long desert had to be plowed through, arid and with little water of refreshment and regeneration as neither God nor faith nor Catholic nor thanks were extended to those who really deserved the recognition. Don’t know what is currently in the air, but it is refreshing!

There is not much left of summer vacation, even though it has yet to begin. Our seminarians are either in Guatemala or Honduras studying intensive Spanish, in Omaha at Creighton’s Institute for Priestly Formation studying how to be holier, at Tampa General Hospital in Clinical Pastoral Education learning how to listen, or working in parishes with everything from youth ministry to painting. By my count they have only nine weeks until they are back in the seminary, scratching their heads and wondering where the time as gone. Teachers and school administrators are closer to reporting for the new school year today than recalling Easter Sunday and their Spring break. Such is the rhythm of life these days. When I recall that my summer vacation started a day or two prior to Memorial Day and ended a day or two after Labor Day, that was a real summer vacation.

Priests too used to take a month (or if you were from Ireland where there are six weeks in a month) off but now they are lucky to grab a few weeks. There are less of us which means less priests to cover and the shortened summer has shortened most summer vacations for your priests. We seem to all have become prisoners of a new reality which is more occasions of shorter times off. My men work hard for the most part and it is generally acknowledged that few of them take care of themselves in the manner in which they should. Sad really but something of a sign of the times. I wish them the best and begrudge them little. Understandable when a trip home means lengthy and challenging travel such as to Ireland, Poland, India and Africa, the time away should be a little longer as there is no home for these men to go to recover from Christmas and Easter and the mad and merry month of May.

Despite it all, the wonderful work of sharing the “Joy of the Gospel” continues unabated throughout the summer months. Where there was once a full choir at a Mass, there may now be only a cantor and organist; where there once may have been a youth group, there may now be only trips to Cove Crest. The Church, like nature, abhors a vacuum and the Spirit whose coming we recall this coming Sunday leads and guides us. I intend to continue posting from time to time throughout the summer because my mind never shuts down but my episcopal clock is still working its way toward ecclesial midnight. Like Robert Frost, I feel “I have miles to go before I sleep” and with you, to continue to choose “the road less travelled by.” Have a great summer.

+RNL

 

 

TWEET, TWEET

Tuesday, May 29th, 2012

Baccalaureate Mass at Tampa Jesuit High School Chapel

Last night I was given the privilege of celebrating and preaching at the 2012 Baccalaureate Mass for the graduating seniors of Jesuit High School in Tampa. In a normal year, which this has not been, I usually, as I have mentioned before, celebrate the Baccalauerate Masses for Jesuit High School, Tampa Catholic High School, and Clearwater Central Catholic High School while handing out diplomas at commencement ceremonies for St. Petersburg Catholic, the Academy of the Holy Names and Bishop McLaughlin High School. However, this year I only had the opportunity to join the Jesuit High School community on the night prior to the graduation ceremony for their 165 seniors.

For some time, I have observed the typical social interaction of young people with each other and with others through the use of the so-called “social media.” I know it is here to stay and to argue too strongly against it could put one in the category of simply being a “dinosaur.” But communicating and living the full message of our Christian life requires far more than tweeting and texting. To focus on one or the other to the exclusion of developing those conversational skills necessary to fully convey and proclaim one’s faith in Christ Jesus requires far more. So what follows is my farewell discourse to this year’s graduating class of 16o young men. I try to make the case for expanding beyond the social media while still acknowledging that even the Church can use it. For example, look at this blog or our Diocesan Facebook or Twitter. If you have time, read the homily below and let me know what you think.

One hundred and forty characters; one hundred and forty letters, numbers, spaces, and punctuation marks.  That is the limit of the length of a tweet.  That limit was originally established, as you may know, so that an entire tweet could fit into one text message.  It is short and efficient, but in that economy of length, depth of meaning is sacrificed.

It is not just in Twitter though where we find this kind of communication.  If one stops to look at today’s media as a whole, we find ourselves enmeshed in a culture of the sound bite.  News programs try to fit all stories into a segment that lasts 30 seconds, or perhaps a minute or two for a longer, feature report.  Today we tend to prefer reading headlines and/or watching highlights of speeches, debates, or even sporting events.  We can be inundated with information from countless sources, but it is all in short, snappy and slick snippets.  To communicate the truth of our faith, however, this kind of communicating will not work.  140 characters are simply not enough.

If the apostles in the upper room when Jesus appeared to them had simply reached for their iPhones and taken a photo of Thomas reaching out to Jesus and, tagged Thomas and Jesus, and posted it to Facebook with the caption “My Lord and My God,” would the depth of Thomas’s confession have been fully revealed?  I think not.  The story of our salvation is so immense, that simply sound bites or snapshots will take us nowhere.

How then, does one communicate the Gospel, the Good News of Jesus Christ to a world that communicates today preferably with texts and twitter, Facebook and Linkedin and other ways, which personally I find incredibly impersonal? The computer, the smart phone, the iPad and iPod may take us to exciting technological places but far from the personal. Technology trumps the intimacy of personal interactions.

Nearly 2000 years ago, a small group of most-certainly illiterate fishermen used “The Social Network” of their time to do just this.  They did not have Facebook or Twitter.  They could not spread the good news of Christ’s Resurrection and Ascension and the coming of the Holy Spirit by posting a video to YouTube.  They could, however, let it shine through their lives and their speaking, and this is precisely what they did.

As we heard in last Sunday’s first reading for Pentecost:  the Apostles went out after receiving the Holy Spirit and told of the wonders that God had done for them and everyone heard them speak in their own language.  They did this without Google Translate.  Rather they did it with their actions: curing the sick, healing the lame, casting out demons, feeding the hungry, caring for widows and orphans.

And people began to “follow” them.  They then did for others what they saw done by the apostles.  They did not retweet their words, they told and retold their stories and repeated their actions.

So, tonight, my dear brothers in Christ and soon to be graduates of Tampa Jesuit High School, I would like to propose that you are the answer to the question I posed earlier of how one can and should communicate the Gospel in a world sometimes seemingly limited to 140 characters and driven by the sound bite.  The answer has been with us from the beginning; it is, as St. Peter reminds us in the first reading simply to do as Jesus said, “be holy because I am holy.”

While we needed the words of Scripture to be written down, we will also need you to share your faith by words.  Use your education to argue rationally and passionately for what you believe.  More importantly, though, live what you believe.

Each of you has a unique character, which you have formed under the guidance of your first teachers, your parents, as well as your teachers here at Tampa Jesuit to be a witness to the Gospel.  You have been nourished in faith, given a magnificent education in the arts and sciences, and formed in the tradition of St. Ignatius Loyola to do all things for the greater glory of God and be truly men for others.  As you go forth tomorrow night from this Jesuit High School, I am convinced that with 160 human ” characters” constituting your senior and graduating class, you can and I pray you will communicate far more through your actions than simply 140 characters in a tweet.  That is how you will build up a social network for the Kingdom of God on this earth.

+RNL

THE ROAD TO HELL . . . .

Monday, February 21st, 2011

I have always loved and found generally true that old aphorism, “the road to hell is paved with good intentions.” It has been about ten days since I last logged on to share some of the things happening in the life of the diocese and each day I rise saying, I am going to write a blog entry and each night I go to bed saying, “shucks.” So there is a lot to cover in this entry.

VISIT TO OUR SEMINARIANS

Week before last I visited our seminarians at St. John Vianney College Seminary in Miami and St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary at Boynton Beach. We currently have eighteen on campus at the former in their college and pre-theology years and nine on campus at the latter plus two men currently in the diocese of what is called “Pastoral Year.” I try to give each seminarian twenty to thirty minutes for some private time with me, celebrate the Eucharist for them, take them en masse out to dinner and say prayer with them. This year our new diocesan Vocation Director, Father John Blum accompanied me and he too spends time with each seminarian. At the conclusion of our visit, we both meet with the Rectors of the seminaries to gain their perspective on  how they see our men doing in formation. Honest seminarians always admit to the challenges of pursuing their vocations. Think of what we ask of them: celibate chastity all their lives beginning when they enter the seminary gates, living in close proximity to others and constantly under a microscope (not necessarily of their superiors but even their peers) studying two intellectual disciplines which are largely abstract in their origins (philosophy and theology), living, studying and praying in multi-cultural, multi-language Miami and South Florida. There is little that is new here to priestly formation but the experience of recent years in the Church has shone a spotlight much more glaringly on seminary education and formation and our men sense it. Overall, they are doing quite well. Some have decided not to go on after this year and they spoke honestly to me of their reasons and I admire their decisions, hard as they were to arrive at. Most are content, challenged, and eager to move on eventually to priesthood. From the perspective of a soon to be seventy year old, I can not help but admire the sacrifice these young men are making in a youth culture, perhaps even in a secular culture which neither understands nor values a chaste and celibate priesthood. While I stop short of elevating our seminarians to the ranks of heroes or saints, I can not help but admire their generosity and commitment. I left my camera at home on this trip but here is a picture of the college seminarians and one of the theologians will follow as this week I must return to both seminaries for the twice yearly meeting of the Board of Trustees.

College Seminarians 2011 with Fr. Blum

The college seminarians with Fr. Blum.

ROMAN MISSAL WORKSHOPS

Over 750 people attended one of five workshops held the last ten days throughout the diocese on the introduction on the First Sunday of Advent of the new Roman Missal translation of the Mass. I was so proud of both the presenters and those who gave of their time and talent to come and learn about what will be happening and how best we might prepare our parishioners for it. Planned, organized and executed by the Diocesan Worship Office and Commission, I have to admit that I learned some new things myself, even though I had been actively involved in the process of vetting the translation recommendations. In a few days, and I will make note of it here in this space, a video of the two major presentations made during these workshops, one by Doug Reatini on the history of changes in the Roman Missal and the second by Father John Tapp on what to expect on “T DAY” (the last Saturday in November at the Vigil Masses for the First Sunday of Advent) will be available on our Diocesan Website to join the video of Bishop Blase Cupich’s fine presentation to our priests in December of last year. If you are truly interested and I hope you are, take the time to watch both of these videos and I guarantee you will be ready for T-Day. Thanks to all who worked so hard to make these workshops so beneficial. The “buzz” (“buzz” is different from the things which are said to the bishop to make him feel good) on these days has been overwhelmingly positive and grateful. I am proud of our diocese and I know in my heart and mind that we will be ready.

Workshop held at St. Timothy Church in Lutz on Feb. 12, 2011

THE CATHOLIC FOUNDATION DINNER

About 540 people joined me in our annual dinner for the Catholic Foundation which has as one of its principal goals raising money for tuition assistance for children attending our Catholic schools who might not otherwise be able to afford it. Last year they raised just over $150,000 for tuition assistance and this year appears that it will be about the same. It was truly “Women in the Church Night” at the A La Carte Pavilion in Tampa last Saturday a week ago.  Sometimes when our Church gathers there is this underlying feeling that unless one has a cardinal or well-known archbishop to give the major address, there is little reason to go. Well this year gave the lie to that line of thinking. The major address was given by a woman born in mainland China and the show was stolen by an eighth grade young lady from St. Raphael’s school.

The principal speaker for the evening Professor Carolyn Y. Woo, Dean of the Mendoza School of Business at Notre Dame University. Dean Woo told of her own personal debt to the Catholic schooling she received in Hong Kong at the hands of the Maryknoll Sisters who had been forced by the communists out of mainland China and had taken up both residence and mission in Hong Kong. It was the sisters who guided this young girl, the fourth of six children, through elementary and high school and gave her the courage to look to the United States for her college. With only enough money to pay for the first year of tuition at Purdue University in Lafayette, Indiana, against her father’s wishes she made her way to the college of her choice, using $1800 (the cost for one year’s tuition in 1972 at Purdue) which she had saved from summer jobs, gifts from her siblings, and help from her nanny. Alone, afraid, but determined, she went to daily Mass at the student center at Purdue and almost immediately met the man to be her husband years later after she had completed her doctorate degree. Purdue hired her, first with a teaching job and then as a part of the University Administration. Fourteen years ago Notre Dame discovered her and asked that she come to South Bend to be Dean of their Business School. In the succeeding years she has led a major school on campus which this year in one ratings system is now first in Undergraduate Business schools in the nation and sixth in their Graduate Program. And she would lay it all at the feet of those noble women from the United States, the Maryknoll sisters, who taught her that a woman can become a leader, even in a culture (Mandarin Chinese) that relegates them to inferior positions behind men. Her story is one of amazing accomplishment and deep faith and one could hear a pin drop in the huge room while she was speaking.

Dean Carolyn Y. Woo, Dean of the Mendoza School of Business at the University of Notre Dame with Henry Jenkins, currently an ACE teacher at Holy Family Catholic School in St. Petersburg

But even Dean Woo would say the evening belonged to in the eighth grader at St. Raphael who won the diocesan first prize in an essay contest on what it means to be in a Catholic School. Speaking for about ten minutes from memory and with a super accompanying video which she herself put together, she won a long, sustained and enthusiastic standing ovation from those in attendance for her talk and presentation. It was stunning, even to me who sometimes callously thinks I have seen and heard everything. Her prize was full one year tuition which she will spend at St. Petersburg Catholic in the coming year. This young woman stands a great chance of being her generation’s Carolyn Woo. Here is Heather Finster, this year’s winner who has set the bar incredibly high for eighth graders who will attempt in future years to top her. Heather’s mom worked for many years for St. Joseph Hospital and her father died a number of years ago, making this achievement all the more beautiful. Congratulations, Heather, and it will be nice to have you in the neighborhood when you come to SPC.

Winner of the Catholic Foundation's First Annual Essay Contest on "What a Catholic School Has Meant to Me"

The Foundation made a special award to Mrs.Cecile Demers of St. Patrick’s parish in Largo  who with her husband have been strong supporters of  Catholic education, particularly at St. Patrick’s school , Clearwater Central Catholic High School and  St. Leo University. Although her husband is now deceased, Mrs. Demers continues to share the blessings of her life with young women and men who probably could not afford to be in a Catholic school were it not for her generosity and that of her late husband. Here is a picture of my presentation of this year’s Foundation Award to Mrs. Demers who used the moment appropriately enough to tell me to do more for Catholic school kids – truly an amazing woman.

Photo compliments of P. L. Carrillo

Finally, it has been “crunch time” for Confirmations and I have been doing about four a week since a month ago. There are eight more between now and the night before Ash Wednesday when we cease the confirmation circuit to better focus on Lent and preparing once again for Easter and the Triduum which precedes it. All toll, this year I will celebrate the sacrament of confirmation forty-four times before mid-June and will have served fifty-one parishes (some combine their young people and others come to the Cathedral for the two large group celebrations of the sacrament. Here one final picture of that special moment – in my life and hopefully in the lives of the young women and men who receive the sacrament.

Photo by Walter Pruchnik III

This completes the longest blog entry in the short history of this author. But now we are caught up for the moment. I hope reading it has not been something akin to walking that road to hell but in writing this, however late, I did have good intentions.

+RNL

DO WE GET WHAT WE PAY FOR?

Tuesday, August 10th, 2010

The new school year is about to begin in our diocesan elementary and high schools, in fact it has already begun in the high schools. The diocese has a new Superintendent of Schools and there are a number of new principals in the various buildings. In the last two weeks, however, I have been looking at some statistics on the measurement of success of transmitting the faith in our Catholic schools in the diocese which I wish to share with you. They are encouraging. But before getting into the results of the testing, I feel compelled to once again raise the question of “Why Catholic schools?” To my mind there is only one plausible and logical answer to this question and that is that Catholic schools are the most effective way of transmitting the faith from one generation to the next. If they fail in this regard, then there is little reason for the Church to spend so much money and energy in maintaining them.

But teaching the faith is only part of the equation, though it is that part that is the responsibility of the schools themselves. Practicing the faith at the same time it is being taught is the responsibility of the sending parents. Like love and marriage in the famous song from the musical OKLAHOMA, “you can’t have one without the other.”

Too often we hear, I don’t know what happened to the faith of my children? I sent them to Catholic schools and yet today they do not practice. It is so sad. Well I am here to tell you that the school alone is not and has never been enough. What is taught must be lived and that lived experience is up to the parents and/or guardians. One can teach the Fourth Commandment, “Remember to keep holy the Sabbath Day” till one is blue in the face, can teach the gift that is the Eucharist to the children, but when Mom and Dad could but choose not to attend Sunday Mass with their children, then all that is taught is in conflict with all that is lived. So I pray and hope that the opening of school this year will be accompanied by a firmer commitment on the part of parent users to accompany their children on the journey of faith and support what is taught in the classroom with what is practiced in Church.

Now, to what is taught and how effective are our schools in transmitting the faith. Each year our elementary schools administer in the fifth and eighth grades the Assessment of Catechesis Religious Education developed and administered by the National Catholic Education Association. Additionally, our four high schools administer a similar test to eleventh graders. Jesuit High School and the Academy of the Holy Names either do not administer the test or choose not to share the results with me and with the diocesan school office. The good news is that in every category tested, our students outperformed the national average, often considerably so. The “domains” which are tested are God; Church; Liturgy and Sacraments; Revelation, Scripture and Faith; Life in Christ; Church History; Prayer/Religious Practice; and Faith Literacy. There are also four “pillars” which are also measured and those are: Creed, Liturgy/Sacraments, Morality and Prayer.  Both knowledge and attitudes are measured and the “domains” mentioned above reflect key concepts of our faith while the “pillars” reflect the Pillars of Faith according to the Catechism of the Church.

One interesting note to me is that for the past three years while the diocese has been focusing on its “Eucharistic Initiative”, the students’ awareness, understanding of and appreciation for Liturgy and the Sacraments has increased – perhaps the first fruit of bring all the teachers of our young together for in-service education on this centrality of our faith. I have before me the scores for the past five years and they have been and remain substantially and significantly higher than the national average. I can also tell something of the effectiveness of each of our elementary schools but these raw scores must be interpreted carefully. Any standardized test requires basic reading skills and some of our elementary schools work with students whose reading aptitude is far below the norm for the year of study. All in all, I wish to compliment our elementary schools teachers and principals for a good year of transmitting the faith.

Our four high schools are also above the national average but not as markedly and remarkably as the elementary schools. I would like to see the results higher in the coming years and I will be communicating this hope to the high school principals soon. There are also some very remarkable variances and differences between the test scores of our four high schools with Tampa Catholic consistently outscoring her three sister schools (St. Petersburg Catholic, Clearwater Central Catholic, and Bishop McLaughlin). Again, I should also note that in the domain and pillar of Liturgy and Sacraments, there are also to be found better results in the last three years. I have reviewed all the results with our Director of Faith Formation, Brian Lemoi, and know that a careful reading, perhaps more careful than I have given which I would term more “cursory” than “careful” is required, but I can affirm to all parents reading this blog entry that I truly believe that in the area of faith formation and transmission, you are getting what you paid for. Now I plead with you to do your part.

+RNL

MORTARBOARDS AND MITRES

Sunday, May 16th, 2010

For centuries the Church has put “funny” hats on its bishops. In our case, they are called mitres and zuchettas (Italian word for the purple beanie). The mitre can be traced back to a certain headgear that was worn by Jewish High Priests but in Catholicism is evolved into a front and back of somewhat triangular shape and various colors. I thought of the mitre today as I presided (without wearing one) at the first of six high school graduations and/or baccalaureate Masses. But we bishops do not have a lock-on distinctive headgear. The traditional headgear of a high school and college/university graduate can be even more distinctive and occasionally troublesome. Of course, I am speaking of the mortarboard or cap worn at graduation ceremonies. The graduate has worked hard at various levels of educational activity for the privilege of wearing a cap and a gown at their graduation. Unlike bishops, they only have to wear them a couple of times in their lifetime and in some graduation ceremonies they can not wait to toss them into the air. Bishops can’t do that – they cost too much for one thing. But in the history of civilization, headgear has often been a sign of accomplishment or office.

The graduation season at the six high schools in the diocese began this Sunday afternoon (May 16th) and for all but last year, I have tried to be present to the graduates and their families at this special moment of achievement. Some of my brother bishops have chosen not to attend graduation or baccalaureate Masses for a variety of reasons but I see it as one last opportunity to accomplish several goals: to briefly remind the graduates that they are being sent to the world to among other things make Christ more present; that the education they have received is a sign of the love for them which their parents or guardians and the Church have as today it comes at considerable financial sacrifice; and, finally, that at least in our Catholic schools, administrators, teachers, and staff also make a big sacrifice to be present to them and help them. It all has to  be done rather expeditiously because the graduating class just wants to get out, get on with the parties and celebrations and get on with their lives. This afternoon I tried to remember who spoke at my high school graduation, who were the salutatorian and valedictorian. Couldn’t! Could not even remember who did it for my college graduation either. So the “who” of graduation day and the “what” he or she said is very transitory.

I did look at the graduates however and I do have the feeling that we have done the best we can for them to prepare them for their next adventure. At least at St. Petersburg Catholic I see them arrive in their freshman year and grow, physically, emotionally, spiritually and educationally. I can tell that their Catholic school experience made some difference. Our schools compete against a lot in the culture and world which teen-agers experience today. High schools do not always win that tug-of-war, but I still think we make enough of a difference that we must be committed to keeping the opportunity available for future high school generations. A sometime endless debate centers on whether or not, if one could have only one, would elementary or high schools be the place where one deposits the greatest investment. At the moment and I hope up to the time I leave, it will never be “either-or” but “both-and.” The elementary schools after all are the principle feeders for the high schools.

To all the graduates of St. Petersburg Catholic, the Academy of the Holy Names, Bishop McLaughlin, Tampa Catholic, Jesuit, and Clearwater Central Catholic, I offer my congratulations but I save my greatest good wishes for those loving parents and guardians and faculties and staffs who make this day possible annually.

+RNL

Updated: Here are some photos of yesterday’s (5/16/2010) Graduation at St. Petersburg Catholic.

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FAITH EDUCATION

Friday, January 30th, 2009
The Joseph C. White Family Performing Arts Center at Clearwater Center Catholic High School. Made possible by the Journey in Faith Capital Campaign.

The Joseph C. White Family Performing Arts Center at Clearwater Center Catholic High School. Made possible by the Journey in Faith Capital Campaign.

Some final thoughts are in order as Catholic Schools Week comes to a close this afternoon. Last year I visited all of our elementary and high schools, said Mass for the students, and then met with different age groups to tell them once again about the great gift of the Eucharist. It was a wonderful experience and I will soon begin again a second round of school visitations, although not all of them in the same year. I was impressed with what I saw and experienced. I was impressed with our administrators and teachers. They make a significant financial sacrifice to teach in Catholic schools and they clearly love and are proud of their school and students.

I felt the elementary school students were getting a good basic faith formation education. Yesterday I railed about parents who do not support what we do by regularly ignoring our Sunday obligation but it was pointed out to me last night that I should also acknowledge the many that do bring their children to Sunday Mass and do support both in-school and CCD faith formation. I am grateful for that commitment and support but  many of my pastors would tell you this second category of parents is in the minority. But we go on, nonetheless, and I thank those faith-filled and faithful parents, teachers, administrators and staff of our Catholic schools. They certainly do make a difference.

The Offertory Moment - Bread and Wine soon to become His body and blood.

The Body of Christ

On February 21st, every teacher in the diocese and as many of our CCD catechists will gather with me at the Tampa Convention Center for the second of our diocesan-wide convocations on Living Eucharist: Gathered, Nourished, Sent. Forming the formators is an important part of passing on the faith. If you would like to learn more yourself about the gift of self that Jesus left to his Church, register quickly on line and come, join us. Our education in our faith does not end on the last day of class.

Thanks to all for making this Catholic Schools Week a success.

+RNL

WHAT?

Thursday, January 29th, 2009

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.

Happy or not?

Happy or not?

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.

The Mass is ended. Go in the peace of Christ

The Mass is ended. Go in the peace of Christ

+RNL