I recently asked my family, friends, and followers on social media what they would like to see me write about in the new year of 2019. My friend Shaun McAfee, a fellow National Catholic Register blogger, suggested that I write about my family.
Blessed [Father] Basile Moreau (1799-1873), whose Memorial is Jan. 20, was the founder of the Congregation of Holy Cross. If you have not already learned about this remarkably holy priest, I encourage you to read his biography on the website for the Congregation of Holy Cross here. Bishop McNamara High School, where I attended from 1996 to 2000, and where I have taught theology and Spanish since 2006, is sponsored by the Congregation of Holy Cross, as are various other educational institutions around the world.
When Blessed Basile was forming Holy Cross, he chose as its model the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. This is consequential for the implications of the future of Catholic education. Buzzwords come and go. Fads are fleeting. Methodologies morph from one generation to the next, or sometimes even within particular generations. Yet, in a wayward society that seems to outdo itself in novel vices from one day to the next, the Holy Family should remain as the model of virtue and right living.
I have the privilege of knowing numerous educators in various Catholic educational settings, whether conventional Catholic schools, classical academies, homeschool programs, tutorials, or even combinations thereof. My wife Bernadette teaches French two mornings per week at Saint Peter the Rock Homeschool Tutorial in Bowie, Maryland.
Interestingly, at Saint Peter's, the tight-knit faculty and board of directors uses the term “tutor” instead of “teacher,” since the mother and father are seen as the primary teachers, a point echoed often when we consider that the domestic church is the most crucial foundation for transmitting the Catholic faith. I am privileged to know the tutors and families at Saint Peter's, and can attest to the phenomenal task that they are undertaking in fostering a challenging academic environment while prioritizing the Gospel in every aspect of their operations.
Much like how Basile Moreau received his spiritual formation foremost in the setting of his family at home, in an age overshadowed by the havoc wrought against the Catholic Church by the French Revolution, so too do Catholic schools in the modern era have the prerogative to emphasize the significance of the family, including by underscoring the beautiful gifts of chastity, marriage, and vocational awareness.
It is time for Catholic education to re-kindle and re-enchant our communities' propensity to look to the Holy Family as our enduring model, come what may. There need not be resentment between various Catholic educational settings, because as long as we are collectively proclaiming the Good News in a multi-faceted way, with Catholic identity paramount, then we are fulfilling our evangelizing mission — whether that education takes place in a school, in the home, in the parish, or in another setting.
When my wife and I look at what we want for our four (so far) children, we hope to see them formed as current disciples and future saints. Every other consideration is ancillary.
As the National Catholic Educational Association prepares for Catholic Schools Week 2019 (Jan. 27 - Feb. 2), may the intercession of Blessed Basile and the Holy Family continue to inspire Catholic educators to look to the Holy Family as the most formative model for the domestic church to emulate.