This is our Church

Recently, Catholic Schools Foundation (CSF) Scholar Shadi Lopez, a senior at St. Joseph Preparatory High School in Brighton, concluded her remarks to donors and fellow senior CSF Scholars at the third annual Celebration of Excellence Breakfast saying, "Thank you for helping to fulfill the dream of my parents who have been working multiple jobs since arriving in this country, all so that my sister and I would have the opportunity to live the American Dream."

Shadi's life has been forever changed because of her Catholic education. She is a young woman who understands that she is known and loved by God and is prepared to become the first in her family to go to college. Shadi's successes are the work of the Church and her story is one of 4,000 that can be told by each of CSF's scholarship recipients every year. Our scholars' incredible successes are possible because of the women and men who spread the Gospel each day through their service, example, and excellent teaching. This is our Church.

It is a trying time for our Church. It is difficult and unfair when women and men, who have made differences in the lives of young people for decades, see their work wrapped up in the same conversations about the failures of the administration of the Church. These hard-working women and men have been responding to Christ's command, "love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another" (John 13:34). These people are the Church. It is in this work of the Church that my hope is strengthened and my faith renewed that the Spirit is at work in our world today.

The hierarchy of the Church has failed the faithful. This is an established fact and one for which Pope Francis has taken ownership. Resolving these failures will take time. However, the work of the Church has not failed. No single organization in the history of the world has done more to promote education, scientific discovery, the arts and healthcare. These works are not ends unto themselves, they are the means to become closer to Christ -- seeing the dignity in all people, and understanding what Christ hopes for his Church.

It is easy to give up and be done with the hypocrisy and sinfulness of some in our Church. It is cause for anger and frustration, but do not let the sinfulness of a few ruin the goodness of so many. Instead, I ask you to think about the people doing the work of our Church: the women and men engaged in living the Gospel each day, meeting people where they are and bringing them closer to Christ through their example. This is what happens every day in Catholic schools across the archdiocese.

As Shadi Lopez gave her remarks last week, she did so to a room full of benefactors, 115 other senior CSF Scholars, and her parents. She delivered her remarks confidently and poised, with a belief that she will succeed. She and her fellow scholarship recipients do not come from significant resources, but our Church has given them the opportunity to make the most of their God-given abilities. CSF's Celebration of Excellence Breakfast brings light to the accomplishments of these CSF Scholars and demonstrates to donors the impact of their support. Perhaps most importantly, it demonstrates all that is right within our Church.

- Michael B. Reardon is executive director of the Catholic Schools Foundation,