The very last mandate Jesus gave His disciples before He ascended into heaven was that His followers were to go to all the nations, baptizing them and “teaching them to observe all I have commanded.” (Matthew 26:16-20).
The Church takes seriously the mandate to teach. The Catechism of the Catholic Church (no. 2229) makes clear that “parents have the right to choose a school for their children which corresponds to their own convictions. This right is fundamental. As far as possible parents have the duty of choosing schools that will best help them in their task as Christian educators.”
In educating our young people in Catholic schools, the Church follows the message of Jesus Christ Himself to “Go make disciples of all nations.”
This week, we are celebrating Catholic Schools Week. We take this time to think about the good work our elementary, junior high and high schools do in teaching the Good News of Jesus Christ. This Good News is imparted by Catholic schools to students as they learn not only about faith, but also about math, science, art, languages.
“Prudent education teaches virtue; it prevents or cures fear, selfishness and pride, resentment arising from guilt, and feelings of complacency, born of human weakness and faults,” the catechism notes in paragraph 1784. “The education of the conscience guarantees freedom and engenders peace of heart.”
In an address last year to members of the Vatican’s Congregation for Catholic Education, Pope Francis said that Catholic education offers students the opportunity to “immerse themselves in reality with the light that radiates from the promise of Christian salvation.”
Our Holy Father said Catholic education gives “a soul to the global world through an intellectual and moral formation that can support the good things that globalization brings and correct the harmful ones.”
This week, we think not only of the good work accomplished in our Catholic schools, but also of the teachers, administrators and others who devote themselves to Catholic education.
These educators have a special ministry to pass on knowledge and instruct others in the teachings and traditions of the Catholic Church. No matter what subject they teach, they teach it in a God-focused context.
We should all take a moment this week to think about our Catholic schools, to be grateful for the good works being accomplished in them, and to thank our Catholic educators for heeding Christ’s command to “teach all nations.”