January 29, 2021

Faith and Family / Sean Gallagher

Pandemic has highlighted close collaboration of parents, educators

Sean GallagherThe Church has long taught that parents are the primary educators of their children.

A parents’ education and formation of their children happens in an organic way in the entirety of their shared family life.

Some parents take up this sacred responsibility in a more comprehensive way by teaching their children at home subjects that are ordinarily taught in schools in our society. Though still the minority, there are far more homeschooling families today than when I was growing up in the 1970s and 1980s.

Most parents still enroll their children in conventional schools, either public or private. My family has had experience with both approaches, trying homeschooling for a few years before enrolling our sons at Lumen Christi Catholic School in Indianapolis. My oldest son Michael graduated from Father Thomas Scecina Memorial High School in Indianapolis last year.

In my work at The Criterion since 2004, I’ve been blessed to see many examples across central and southern Indiana of how the staff of Catholic schools and parents who have enrolled their children work well together to form them into well-educated and faith-filled disciples of Christ.

That collaboration on the sacred, God-given mission of forming the young generation of the Church’s faithful rose to a new level when the coronavirus pandemic shuttered schools last spring, and has remained this school year with the resumption of in-person instruction even in the face of continued pandemic-related challenges.

My co-worker Natalie Hoefer reports on this shared work between parents and school staffs in the pandemic in the Catholic Schools Week Supplement in this week’s issue of The Criterion.

As a parent of four children enrolled at Lumen Christi and in learning in my work about what is happening in other Catholic schools in the archdiocese, I have been overwhelmed at times to see the deep love for the children in these schools in both their parents and their educators.

What else can explain the heroic efforts made on a daily basis for the greater part of a year now to educate and form in the faith thousands of children in schools and homes across central and southern Indiana in the face of such challenges that were unimaginable before 2020?

God is surely present where there is this kind of love expressed in patience, tireless dedication, kindness and flexibility.

Perhaps sometime in the future, daily life at Catholic schools in the archdiocese will resemble more what it was like before the pandemic changed all of our lives.

If that happens, I pray that the experience that both parents and educators have had in the pandemic will, at the very least, keep their mutual love of the children that is at the heart of education in the forefront of their hearts and minds, that they won’t take for granted the great good they’re doing together with the help of God’s grace.

I know I’ve prayed much more consciously for my boys’ school and other Catholic schools in the archdiocese since the start of the pandemic. Many of you were probably doing that before the coronavirus hit. But the more all of us can pray for our schools, students, parents and educators, the better we’ll all be in the end. †

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