January 29, 2010

2010 Catholic Schools Week Supplement

Catholic Education in the Archdiocese of Indianapolis: A faith-filled investment in the future of our children

By Annette “Mickey” Lentz

As we begin another calendar year and a new decade, it causes us to think about our many blessings and gifts, and even the challenges which lie before us.

At the start of a new year, I always reflect on where I have been and what still needs my attention. I call this my personal portfolio, just as one also has a stock portfolio. I am called to take stock of my life. What are my dividends? How have I profited from my investments?

This year’s theme for Catholic Schools Week is “Catholic Schools: Dividends for Life.” When I first saw this theme, my mind went to the stock portfolio. Then the light bulb went off in my mind and I realized all the dividends that Catholic schools have paid over many years. It’s a totally different type of profit, one I am still blessed by each day.

There are four major qualities of Catholic education: faith, knowledge, discipline and morals. They are qualities I have valued since entering the first grade at St. Patrick School and graduating many years later from Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College in Terre Haute. These gifts or dividends become a part of who we are and what we do—a personal portfolio.

Let me reflect on each of those qualities as they pertain to my life.

Faith is my personal relationship with God, and certainly with others, too. My religion classes, as did all my other subjects and service opportunities, allowed me to express my faith and belief in God, my classmates and later my colleagues.

Knowledge means acquiring information and then transferring its importance. For me, knowledge also means the academic excellence which exists in our schools—not only in test scores, but also in teaching the whole student in body, mind and spirit.

Ninety-eight percent of our students graduate from high school, and an amazing 97 percent continue to higher education. What a dividend for our business world. It doesn’t get much better than that.

We all know the importance of discipline. For me, it says that I needed to pay attention to my school lessons and be able to apply those skills for a happy and fruitful life. Discipline helped me achieve my dreams and goals—another great payoff!

Morals are a MUST. Finding a way to be happy and balanced is not easy. Knowing right from wrong is one thing, and doing it is another. Morals lead to integrity, be it in business, education or whatever field one chooses.

At the end of 2009, most publications listed the top 10 stories of the year and even the decade. In every case, these lists caused us to pause and reflect on the hallmarks mentioned. We have our own stories to remember and consider. What we do reflects who we are and helps to write our story for the future. I ask you to think about the dividends of Catholic schools and commit yourself to the continued support of Catholic school education.

And so it is that Catholic schools produce dividends for life. The whole world benefits when we share these dividends with others. I am grateful to have had that experience. God bless.

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

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