December 18, 2015

Catholic Education Outreach / Gina Fleming

Faith, joy and love are multiplied, magnified in our schools

One of the greatest pleasures of work in the Office of Catholic Schools (OCS) is to witness God’s providence and love through the people, programs and services offered. From service projects and all-school Masses to witnessing teachers, coaches and staff members integrate our Catholic identity into every aspect of their vocations, we get to experience faith, joy and love multiplied and magnified in ways we could not imagine.

Last week, the OCS staff met with a couple dozen amazing teachers in central and southern Indiana who have been identified by their school leaders as prospective administrators. As part of our time together, we listened to three of our current principals tell their story about why they chose Catholic education—and why Catholic education chose them. What inspiration these dedicated professionals are!

Perhaps that dedication that brings such joy is best expressed by Erica Heinekamp, a faculty member of St. Susanna School in Plainfield. “I want to see my students as Christ sees us—not as machines for output, but as divine mystery put into existence for the glory of God. May that glory spread from my classroom to the ends of the Earth!”

Last week, I was one of several guests at a center-city Catholic school. A third-grade girl approached me with her hand extended and a smile that could brighten a room, exclaiming, “Welcome to Central Catholic!” Just as quickly, she proceeded to give me a small hug before merrily going on her way. Can you think of a better way to start your day?

The fact that our archdiocesan Catholic high school students engaged in well over 100,000 hours of service during the 2014-15 academic year serves as a testament to the desire to follow Jesus Christ’s example, and our call as Christians to “respond in love to God who loved us first.”

In times of struggle, our Catholic schools provide a safe haven in which youth and their families can rely.

We have stories of generosity demonstrated by dear friends of Catholic education, like the one told through a thank-you note one fifth-grade student at St. Anthony of Padua School in Indianapolis wrote to a donor. (Note this beautiful child of God is also learning English as a new language.)

I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for all the money you have given our school. With your support, I’m able to have not only a great education but my family is [cared] for too.

Your donations helped me at Christmas time. I didn’t get any presents.  Last year, your contributions helped me in so many ways. I was very happy.

Sometimes, my family does not have enough money to buy food. Now there is a nutrition club. This really helps my family.

Third, you help our school [keep] going. We have electricity and water every day.

Thank you again for your generous donation of money. Our school can’t succeed without your help. God bless your hearts.

There is also Brittany Geswein’s story of how she found comfort and support through the Our Lady of Providence Jr./Sr. High School family in Clarksville when her sophomore brother, Brandon, suddenly passed away. She states, “No words can express how critical Brandon’s Catholic education has been in helping us find peace in our loss.”

The stories go on and on. As we prepare for the Lord’s coming during this Advent season, we invite each of you to celebrate the faith, joy and love that is so evident in our Catholic schools. Please enjoy OCS’s recent publication at www.archindy.org/OCS-Special-Publication-Fall-2015, where you can read more from Brittany and Erica, and learn about the other great happenings in our Catholic schools that remind us of the hope that exists in our world!
 

(Gina Fleming is the archdiocese’s superintendent of Catholic schools.)

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