June 21, 2013

Catholic Education Outreach / Ken Ogorek

The other St. John and Catholic education

St John the Baptist. St. John the Apostle and Evangelist. St. John Neumann?

Our chief shepherd and catechist, Archbishop Joseph W. Tobin, is a Redemptorist—belonging to the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer.

An American saint named John Neumann, also a Redemptorist priest, served as the fourth bishop of Philadelphia and has much to teach us about Catholic education, welcoming strangers and going the extra mile.

St. John Neumann saw great value in parochial schools—centers of Catholic education where all knowledge would be put in perspective, relating to knowledge of God and his holy, Catholic Church. This saint worked very hard to establish dozens of Catholic schools when our country was still quite young. He is credited with setting up the first diocesan system of schools as Philadelphia’s bishop in the 1850s.

In the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, with principals as spiritual leaders of the faith communities that are their schools, Catholic education still includes the vision of St. John Neumann—schools who strive first to make disciples of Jesus and build communion with his Church while doing a great job with reading, writing, arithmetic and all major areas of knowledge.

As for welcoming strangers, St. John himself was an immigrant to the young United States of America. He saw in his fellow immigrants children of God who needed ministry that would help them grow in the faith they brought to this country, as well as sharing that faith with new neighbors in their new land.

St. John Neumann saw to it that immigrants from various countries had access to the Word of God, to the sacraments, to a Catholic way of life that continues to enrich the U.S.A., and by God’s grace will keep doing so.

Our archdiocesan Office of Catholic Education collaborates with various departments and agencies in serving those recently arrived to southern and central Indiana. To be a welcoming Church is a priority that encourages discipleship—a main goal of Catholic education.

When Archbishop Tobin arrived in our Hoosier State, he planned visits to all 11 deaneries of the archdiocese and continues to log quite a few miles in serving as our chief shepherd and catechist. Like his fellow Redemptorist, St. John Neumann, our archbishop knows that nothing completely replaces visiting people where they live and worship.

It’s not unusual to see Office of Catholic Education staff throughout the archdiocese at deanery gatherings, workshops and pastoral visits of various sorts. Going the extra mile complements administrative work that occurs behind a desk. Both are important for evangelization and Catholic education to be effective.

Going the extra mile, welcoming the stranger and supporting authentic Catholic education are hallmarks of St. John Neumann’s legacy.

May this saint intercede for his fellow Redemptorist, Archbishop Joseph W. Tobin, and for all who pursue evangelization via Catholic education outreach.
 

(Ken Ogorek is director of catechesis in the archdiocese’s Office of Catholic Education. E-mail him at kogorek@archindy.org.)

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