WASHINGTON — In a statement commemorating Catholic Schools Week, Bishop Joseph McFadden of Harrisburg, Pa., lauded Catholic schools for helping evangelize the nation.
“It is a challenging education in an atmosphere where Jesus Christ is the center,” the chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Catholic Education said Jan. 29.
“The unique atmosphere of our Catholic schools is a space and place where the New Evangelization can reach out to parents and children in a way that is respectful of the human person, presents the teachings of the Church and supports family life.”
He noted that Catholic Schools Week is an opportunity to “recognize and support parents” as they exercise the right to choose Catholic schools “to support the faith formation and excellent education for their children.”
Bishop McFadden said that the more than 6,800 Catholic schools in the U.S. reach 2 million students daily. He thanked the 151,000 people who choose to give themselves as teachers at these schools, giving a “witness of love and commitment to parents and young people.”
He said Catholic schools in the U.S. have a “rich history” in supporting evangelization. The intention of Catholic education is to offer “the life-giving word of the Gospel in an environment that shows respect for the human person, the virtues of good citizenship and academic excellence.”
Catholic education, the bishop noted, has saved the country more than $20 billion a year, and he pointed out its successful graduation rates.
“In this Year of Faith, it is important to remember that our Catholic schools are centers for the New Evangelization for families of a variety of socio-economic backgrounds and diverse cultures,” he said.
He said the ethnic diversity at Catholic schools, as well as the 15% of non-Catholic pupils, creates “a rich environment for catechesis and cultural diversity.”
Bishop McFadden also used his letter to thank the parents who choose Catholic schools and all those who support Catholic education.
“This important week reminds all of us that Catholic education is needed now more than ever to be that place ‘which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction,’” he concluded.