February 10, 2006

Be Our Guest

Catholic schools already have good multiplier effects in place

Editor’s note: A group of Indiana High School public school coaches is proposing a “1.5” multiplier in athletics. If approved, it would count every student at a non-public school as 1.5 students for enrollment figures that determine athletic class.

In the scenario, a Catholic school of 1,000 students would be classified as if it had 1,500 students, potentially forcing the school to compete against bigger schools.

Proponents of the proposal say it will level the athletic playing field. Catholic schools are adamantly against the measure and say they will fight it.

As part of Catholic Schools Week activities, Father John McCaslin, Roncalli High School chaplain and administrator of St. Anthony and Holy Trinty parishes, both in Indianapolis, delivered the following homily during a Mass at Roncalli on Jan. 31, the feast of St. John Bosco—patron saint of youth.)

By Father John McCaslin

I have been reading with some amusement, and with some disappointment, the way in which sports have begun to take on such an unhealthy importance in our culture through recent articles on high school athletics.

In particular, I write in reference to the movement of some coaches and leaders of communities to impose a multiplier effect, where the student enrollment of the school will be multiplied by 1.5 on so-called private schools, largely because of the success of Catholic schools in winning state championships, in order to level the playing field.

I believe there is a common misperception about Catholic schools so I am writing to help you understand the multiplier effects that are already at work in Catholic schools. Perhaps this might help in the conversations to be held.

• The 3 in 1 effect—Perhaps this is new to you, but the three-in-one effect is the Three Persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, in one God.

God is the heart and center of what Catholic schools are about. Our primary mission is to teach our students about our faith and help them come to know Jesus, through the guidance of the Holy Spirit, so that as his disciples they will proclaim the Good News of Jesus according to how God calls them to their vocation.

Prayer is a part of every day in the classrooms, as a whole school, in our many extracurricular activities, and in the celebration of the Eucharist in the Mass, not to mention the many prayers each of us offers on our own each day.

• The 2 in 1 effect—Two commandments for one people of God: to love God above all else and to love our neighbor as ourselves creates the environment in our schools that doesn’t seek the best students in all things, but seeks to help all of our students, created in God’s image, to do and be their best in all things.

• The 70 times 7 effect—We believe and live the commandment that we are called to forgive time after time after time. We are an Easter people believing in redemption because of the resurrection of Jesus. We don’t give up on our students, and our students don’t give up on themselves or each other.

• The 5 and 2 effect—In the poverty of five loaves of bread and two fish, Jesus fed 5,000 people. Here we discover that in Christ we always experience an abundance of grace and love. Our abundance is not experienced in facilities and material possessions, but in the love of God and community that sustains us in all things and teaches us to put the good of community and others even before ourselves.

• The .8 effect—Our teachers earn about 80 percent of the salaries of their public school counterparts and, yet, most continue to teach in Catholic schools. The commitment of our teachers to form our children and to educate them in a faith-filled environment is a priceless gift that has sustained our schools throughout the years. They build on the legacy of St. John Bosco, Sister Katherine Drexel, Blessed Mother Theodore Guérin, the many religious men and women who built the Catholic school system, and so many others who loved youth and desired to provide for them.

• 6,000 to 1—Our parents make great sacrifices to send their children to Catholic schools, including substantial tuitions. Not only do parents make sacrifices, but so do members of parishes and our faith community at large—who don’t have children in school—through their generous donations and support. We believe that it really does take a village to raise our children. We stand on the shoulders of those who have come before us.

Catholic schools seek to form our children to be moral people of virtue and character. Our schools reflect the commitment of Church and family, at much sacrifice, to help raise our children to be people of faith, giving of themselves generously.

I have seen our students leave the field of competition after victory and defeat. In both situations, they go home, do homework, come to school the next day and move forward in life. Neither victory nor defeat defines us, but rather it is our faith, character and ability to grow to love as God loves.

If we have succeeded in various extracurricular activities—yes, our students are involved in far more activities than sports—understand that they are the fruits or the byproducts of forming our children in faith, hope and love as disciples of Jesus.

We nurture them to live as people of dignity who are called to share their gifts with our society, and to support those who will follow them long after they walk the halls of our schools.

I hope you understand that the multiplier effects that really matter are already in place.

Perhaps it is our multiplier effects that others should embrace. †


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