January 27, 2017

2017 Catholic Schools Week Supplement

The gift of a Catholic education opens a child’s heart

By Gina Fleming (Superintendent of Catholic Schools)

Gina FlemingA week prior to the final class of my administrative program several years ago, I stayed up until 3 in the morning putting the final touches on the documentation I was to present to a group of 50 mentors, colleagues, family members and friends as my culminating project. Everything was compiled in one location on my computer, backed up on a jump drive that remained in the bag with the computer, and tossed gently in the car before a productive day as principal.

Running late to my son’s game that evening, I did not have time to stop by home and drop off the computer. Instead, it remained in the car while we watched our then second-grader play basketball. As we approached the car later that evening, we immediately noticed the shattered glass surrounding our vehicle. I blocked my son from getting closer. It then dawned on me—it was glass from my car window, and the computer bag was gone!

Spontaneously, I squatted down, held my face in my hands, and simply cried. Two years of work flashed before my eyes, as did the anguish of having to start all over. And then I felt two little arms wrap around my neck from behind. My 7-year-old gently said, “Mommy, we need to pray for those men because they have damaged their relationship with Christ.”

Regrettably, I wanted to respond, “I pray they find God before I find them!” But I knew my son was right. I knew this little child of God understood the presence of and need for our Lord and Savior, for he benefitted from the tremendous sacramental preparation he had received and the amazing role models he shared his days with at his Catholic school.

In central and southern Indiana, we are blessed to have 69 Catholic school communities sharing their faith through knowledge and service. The articles throughout this Catholic Schools Week Supplement are intended to give you a small snapshot of the learning, teaching, leading and proclaiming that takes place on our campuses in concert halls, on athletic fields, and throughout our communities every day.

If you really want to be uplifted and reminded of God’s shining light in our world, visit one of our Catholic schools! Allow the principal to share a story or two about the phenomenal students, committed parents and dedicated teachers and staff members they serve daily. And while you are there, please pat him or her on the back for me with a “thank you” for the expertise, wisdom and passion for our faith that is demonstrated consistently.

Thank you to our pastors, who recognize our Catholic schools as beacons of hope for the world, and who support the ministry so readily.

Thank you to our school leaders, who know no boundaries when the education, formation and salvation of students are at stake.

Thank you to our teachers and staff members, who relentlessly serve with zeal so that young people can flourish in college, life and heaven.

Thank you to our lay volunteers, parents, parishioners, business partners and donors, who support Catholic education in ways that benefit students today and for generations to come.

And thank you to our students, who not only see that all are made in the image and likeness of Christ, but who recognize their privilege in responding to God’s love through service to others.

That 7-year-old boy of ours grew up, as they all do. As a product of one of our archdiocesan Catholic high schools, he can now look to the future with great anticipation, along with the other nearly 24,000 students we currently serve across more than 13,000 square miles of Indiana.

As a mother, I find tremendous comfort and joy in knowing that he and our other graduates will lead and serve our Church and world for years to come. †

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