January 27, 2006

2006 Catholic Schools Week Supplement

Column: ‘Catholic Schools: Character, Compassion, Values’

By Annette “Mickey” Lentz
Speial to The Criterion

I am especially pleased with the theme for Catholic Schools Week 2006—“Catholic Schools: Character, Compassion, Values”—since it so clearly exemplifies the key elements of the enterprise of Catholic education in the United States.

This week, more than 7,800 Catholic schools throughout the U.S. will examine the ways that character, compassion and values are instilled in every student, teacher and administrator.

Jesus, the Great Teacher, reminds us that we are about more than reading, writing and arithmetic. We are also, more importantly, about the “R” of religion—that which is taught in the classroom and the faith formation that flows from living the Gospel message and infusing character, compassion and values into the entire school community.

Character is defined as “a set of qualities that make a person distinctive, interesting or attractive.”

Since Jesus Christ is the reason for Catholic education, it is the character of Jesus that we are called to emulate and model to the best of our ability.

Character can lead us to lives of compassion, showing sympathy for others and reaching out, as Jesus did, to help those in need.

We work for Jesus and, as he told us, what we do for the least among people we do for him. Catholic values guide our mission and all our activities. We value prayer, spiritual growth, community life and social justice within a setting of academic excellence but, most of all, we value the fact that all people are made in the image and likeness of God.

Our Catholic schools will continue to make a difference as they strive to foster the attributes of character, compassion and values that Jesus both taught and modeled.

Loving God, please continue to bless the schools in the Archdiocese of Indianapolis.

(Annette “Mickey” Lentz is executive director of the archdiocesan Secretariat for Catholic Education and Faith Formation.) †


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