The Church’s leaders at the Second Vatican Council gave today’s parishes an awesome responsibility. But, a parishioner could justifiably ask, “What does the parish receive from the Catholic School(s) it supports?” My answer — prayer, service and a future.
Catholic School students in the Diocese of La Crosse, really throughout the world, work hard to serve their parishes. In simple ways this service is visible when Catholic School students serve at Mass or help with special weekly events like funerals or parish meetings. Catholic School students love to volunteer, especially at annual parish bazaars or auctions. Students willingly give back to their parishes because they feel the natural connection to the parish community. The parish is an extension of their family.
The beauty of serving the parish in simple ways helps students understand they are an essential part of a faith community. Students not only have opportunities to prayerfully reflect on their service, they also have the opportunity to work with adults in their parish community. This makes the student feel valued, allows the adult to pass down the traditions of faith, and increases the student’s understanding of why the Church encourages all people to serve one another.
The simple act of service Catholic School students provide to their parishes is important, but there is a more important service — a service to the future. Catholic Schools integrate the Catholic Faith into many areas of the curriculum. Students are immersed into the Catholic Faith and understand the logic, the beauty, and the importance of the Church’s teaching. When students see they are essential to the parish; they then understand they are needed to be future Church and parish leaders. And, as future leaders, they understand they must serve others; they must serve their Church by serving their local parish.
By Thomas Reichenbacher, Superintendent of Catholic Schools