Last Word

‘We’ve Planted the Seed’

Thomas Philip Reichenbacher
Superintendent of Catholic Schools

Days before graduation, when I was principal of Assumption High School, I remember a mom telling me, “Well, we’ve planted the seed.” She was sharing with me her hopes for her daughter continuing to live her Catholic faith. It was nice to hear a parent’s thoughts on why she had entrusted her daughter’s education to Catholic Schools.

Today, my wife and I share the same hopes as this proud mom. God has given us the amazing responsibility of raising two daughters. We have made a very conscious choice to enroll our children in Catholic schools. Why did we commute 40 miles for our daughter to attend Aquinas High School? Because Catholic schools take on a unique responsibility of educating the whole child: soul, heart and mind.

A child’s heart is delicate, and their conscience is incredibly impressionable. This is why so many Catholic school teachers choose to work in our 66 schools. Our teachers want to be able to openly pray for and with their students; they want to proclaim Christ’s love to each student; they want students to know the virtue of hope; they want to help students combat the evils of temptation; and they want to share God’s grace with all their students. Educating a child’s heart is at the core of everything Catholic school teachers do.

As a Catholic school teacher, principal and now superintendent, I have seen firsthand how our Catholic schools fully captivate students within the faith. It may sound silly, but in what other school setting would a student get to use the Hail Mary to learn typing in computer class? Where else could a world history class discuss the faith of St. John Paul II as he worked to end the tyrannical rule of the Communist Party in Eastern Europe? Lessons like these are proven to engage children’s minds, while impressing upon them the importance of the Catholic faith in their lives.

Our teachers want to be able to openly pray for and with their students; they want to proclaim Christ’s love to each student; they want students to know the virtue of hope; they want to help student’s combat the evils of temptation; and they want to share God’s grace with all their students.”

Many parents choose a school based on academic excellence, which is an important criterion, but, at Catholic schools, we look at what is being taught in the classroom and what is being “lived” in the classroom. I think this is why so many Catholic school parents are happy with their choice. Students, parents, teachers, support staff and administration all join together as a community in a Catholic school, and are communities of faith.

During this Year of Mercy, our Catholic school students will not just be learning about the corporal and spiritual works of mercy, they’ll be doing them! They will participate in service events to help local food pantries, spend time at area nursing homes and hold prayer sessions to ask for forgiveness, along with other works of mercy that will help them grow in faith. Our students will not just learn about the Year of Mercy, they’ll live it.

I am grateful to everyone who accepts the call to work within our Catholic schools and wish them a happy Catholic Schools Week. And, I thank the parents who have entrusted our Catholic schools with the task of educating their children for this world and the next.

God’s Grace be With You,

Thomas Philip Reichenbacher
Superintendent of Catholic Schools
Diocese of La Crosse

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