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The gift of presence

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We are teaching our students that being present to others is important to showing others how much they are loved, while serving others is the way that we are called to live our lives as faith-filled Catholics.

 
Kathy
Mears

In March, our office celebrated National Catholic Sisters Week. We had a small breakfast for the sisters who work at the Pastoral Center and we acknowledged all that they have done for Catholic education in the Archdiocese of Boston. After the breakfast, our sisters joined our current school leaders for Mass with Cardinal Sean. The sisters were very grateful, and we were very glad to show them our appreciation. For those of us who work in the Catholic Schools Office, we are very grateful to the sisters who built our school system. We fully understand that the success of our schools is because of the work the good sisters did for our students.

On April 17, Good Shepherd Sunday, our Church honors our pastors and the work that they do. We will acknowledge our pastors and all that they do to bring people to a relationship with Jesus on that Sunday. We will take a moment to thank them for their service.

Both the sisters and pastors have dedicated their lives in service to others. They also are people who are present to those they serve.

Being present to others is a gift. We are all very busy with our work, home lives and family obligations. Being willing to set aside time to be available and to be present with others shows our priorities. Sometimes it is easy and sometimes it is difficult, but being present to walk with others when things are great or when they are difficult is important to a successful Catholic school.

Our teachers and administrators, like our wonderful religious sisters and pastors, are present to our students and their families. Our teachers and school leaders are the face of Christ to their school communities. They put others first and show their love of God through their service to others.

The willingness to be of service, to be present to the needs of others is what separates Catholic education from other educational programs. Our schools are places where the adults know their students and work to insure that our students receive the best possible education. They are places where students are learning each day and where we are expanding our students' curiosities and helping them to see what they can be and who they can serve as they grow. Our schools introduce our students to Jesus and a faith that will sustain them.

Teaching students to serve others and to know, love and serve God makes our education different. Our students donate thousands of hours to our communities in eastern Massachusetts. Our programs are more than service learning, however. Our programs are dedicated to teaching our students that serving others is a way to live. We are teaching our students that being present to others is important to showing others how much they are loved, while serving others is the way that we are called to live our lives as faith-filled Catholics.

Recently, I was invited to read to a group of three year old students at St. Columbkille. The students were excited, as it was right before Easter. I was struck, however, about how much these young students knew about their faith and their role in the Church. These young students knew that Easter was more than the Easter Bunny and an Easter egg hunt. They knew about Jesus. They also knew that they are called to help each other and to be nice to each other. These young students knew about prayer. They knew that they said prayers to God and that there are special prayers for different occasions. Their knowledge of their faith at three years of age was very strong. They are on the path that will serve them well.

Catholic education is personal education. It is education that addresses how to live. Students are taught that God is present in our schools and our schools are different because of how they are taught to be present to others. Catholic education embodies these concepts and assists our students in becoming the person God wants them to be. We are blessed to share that gift with our students. We ask for your prayers as we continue our work.

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