Sunday, January 31, 2010

Catholic Schools Week

Steve did a wonderful job preaching today, the Fourth Sunday, and the beginning of Catholic Schools Week. While I am sure the children cannot fully appreciate the significance of this celebration, we who gone through, and attended Catholic schools know what a valuable asset we have. The grade school really has the potential of giving life to the parish.

As of last year there were over a million and one half students in catholic schools, k-8. And another 600,000 9-12. The average tuition is $3100.00, with the average cost per pupil coming in around $5100.00. The teachers are usually paid less than their public school or private school counterparts. Families usually sacrifice the niceties of life to send their children to catholic schools.

With that said, test scores and achievement is usually in the upper percentile for the catholic school child. And most importantly is the fourth "R" of religion. Our students learn about religion, and discuss their faith five days out of the week. Now I have to tell you that we are not a saint factory, but are children do have a broader sense of justice and peace issues than most. I say this unashamedly.

The catholic school is an extension of the catechetical and evangelizing ministry of the parish. It is here that the children learn about the 'Good News,' and proceed to do the Word as well. Human dignity, respect for life, care and compassion, are some of the hallmarks of a catholic education.

This is always a fun week. There will be some great activities and celebrations. I ask for your prayers and support of St. Mary Grade School.

Friday, January 29, 2010

A prophet is without honor

I grew up on the west side of Rockford, and we belonged to St. Patrick Parish. We had a lot of fun and a lot of experiences. St. Patrick was a great parish. I was one of seven or eight priests for the Diocese that was from St. Pat's. Years ago some of the older parishioners commented how nice it would be if I were their Pastor. While I never said so, I knew that such an assignment would never work out. They remember "Ken" from the Anderson family, an altar server, Irish dancer, quiet yet goofy teenager. And I knew them as well.

In Lk 4:21-30 the folk are not real keen at what Jesus has to say. In matter of fact he makes them mad. How dare Mary and Joseph's kid talk to them in this way. Being a prophet amongst our family and friends is no easy task. In counseling we often speak about the elephant in the living room. No one wants to talk about the large animal in the middle of our house, so we re-arrange our comings and goings so we do not have to consider what is truly making us uncomfortable.

Prophets have a difficult task. This is why no one wants the role. People will often chase the prophet type person with sharp sticks and pointy instruments. And really that is part of our role from Baptism. I think that is way I am so fond of the Emperor's New Clothes, story. It is the innocence of the child that points out that the emperor is naked. The child has nothing to lose in speaking the truth.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

From my warm office I can look out at the frozen church parking lot, and the very chilly downtown DeKalb. My Weatherbug says that it is 15 degrees outside. I am hoping for it to be 20 by noon.

Did I mention that St. Michael is my confirmation name? In eighth grade it seemed like a neat saint to have on my side. What I remember most about confirmation was what was happening in the city of Rockford. A fifteen year old had been kidnapped doing his paper route about a week prior.

After weeks of intensive searching, police and volunteers discovered his body in the cabin of a boy scout camp. I remember thinking less about the gifts of the Holy Spirit and more about the last days of life of this boy - who was about our age. I think about Joey every now and then.

This was one of many events, that as a young'in, forced me to look at some of the brokenness and ugliness of human Sin and Evil. In our school we had "bad" kids who were mischievous. In retrospect I can understand that they were from dysfunctional families. As I grew up I could begin to understand that how there is really no such thing as a personal sin. In one way or another our sins affect those around us.

Today we read the parable of the sower. For myself, with the help of St. Michael, I try to keep my garden weeded and tilled.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Conversion of St. Paul

I have always loved this feast. Paul really was a good person, religious, zealous, and holy. He just did not, or maybe could not, accept the message of Jesus or the mystery of the passion, death, and resurrection. Like so many others this was too much for him to bear. One way to deal with those things we do not like or understand is to eliminate them.

The voice of Jesus overwhelms Paul. He becomes child-like in that he now needs to be led and cared for. As his eyes are open he begins to proclaim the 'Good News.'

I think about being "called" to priesthood. I sincerely wish there were voices and lights and stuff. But I realize too how different my reason of being a priest is today, than it was say 20 or 30 years ago. In college I would have told people I want to be a priest to help otehrs. Today it have a lot to do with proclaiming the Word of God, and challenging people to faith.

In all of us there has to be that ongoing conversion and discipleship. I am really sure of this. Like Paul we have to be open to the meeting of Jesus Christ througout our journeys of faith.