Catholic Education: To Know Christ as a Friend

February 16, 2017

The following is my weekly letter to the Bishop Chatard High School parent community:

I recently came across an address Pope John Paul II gave to a group of American high school students back in 1979, and plan to share it with the Bishop Chatard staff. It speaks to the role of Catholic education and the responsibility young people have to take what they learn out into the world. I would like to share portions of that address with you this week.

I have been told that most of you come from Catholic high schools. For this reason I would like to say something about Catholic education, to tell you why the Church considers it so important and expends so much energy in order to provide you and millions of other young people with a Catholic education. The answer can be summarized in one word, in one person, Jesus Christ. The Church wants to communicate Christ to you.

This is what education is all about, this is the meaning of life: to know Christ. To know Christ as a friend: as someone who cares about you and the person next to you, and all the people here and everywhere—no matter what language they speak, or what clothes they wear, or what color their skin is.

And so the purpose of Catholic education is to communicate Christ to you, so that your attitude toward others will be that of Christ. You are approaching that stage in your life when you must take personal responsibility for your own destiny. Soon you will be making major decisions that will affect the whole course of your life. If these decisions reflect Christ’s attitude, then your education will be a success. We have to learn to meet challenges and even crises in the light of Christ’s Cross and Resurrection. Part of our Catholic education is to learn to see the needs of others, to have the courage to practice what we believe in. With the support of a Catholic education we try to meet every circumstance of life with the attitude of Christ. Yes, the Church wants to communicate Christ to you so that you will come to full maturity in him who is the perfect human being, and, at the same time, the Son of God.

You and I and all of us together make up the Church, and we are convinced that only in Christ do we find real love, and the fullness of life. And so I invite you today to look to Christ. When you wonder about the mystery of yourself, look to Christ who gives you the meaning of life. When you wonder what it means to be a mature person, look to Christ who is the fullness of humanity. And when you wonder about your role in the future of the world and of the United States, look to Christ. Only in Christ will you fulfill your potential as an American citizen and as a citizen of the world community.

With the aid of your Catholic education, you have received the greatest of gifts: the knowledge of Christ. Be always grateful to God for this gift of knowing Christ. Be grateful also to your parents and to the community of the Church for making possible, through many sacrifices, your Catholic education. People have placed a lot of hope in you, and they now look forward to your collaboration in giving witness to Christ, and in transmitting the Gospel to others.

The staff of Bishop Chatard does its very best to provide the type of education that Pope John Paul II described. We thank you for your support of our mission and for trusting us with your children.

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