Monday 14th June 2021

Home » Frontpage » Currently Reading:

A Beacon Of Light . . . How To Reform Catholic Education? With Christ

June 1, 2021 Frontpage No Comments


Do you remember any of the outdoor games you played as a child? I do! My favorite game was hide and seek. We all know how it is played. A group of people will scatter and hide while another counts to 100, allowing the others time to find the perfect hiding place. After counting to the desired number, the counter begins searching out for the other players. After finding them all, the game is over and everyone had a good time.
It seems like the Church has been repeating this game, over and over again. The last several years have seen a steady decline in the numbers of the faithful participating in the faith. The faithful have found their perfect hiding places, and now it’s up to the Church to find them again. How do we find them? We do it through the teaching of the faith!
One of the greatest gifts the Church offers to the faithful is Catholic Education. The patrimony of Catholic Education is where the foundations of the faith are taught. Sadly, many have not had the opportunity to experience this gift of our faith, and so there has been a decline in the numbers of the faithful who truly understand it. This decline, I believe, can be traced back to our educational system, particularly the decline in Catholic Education. People no longer understand the faith as a result of decades of false watered-down teaching of the faith. Many have received a superficial emotionally charged “feel good faith” instead of the “foundation of true faith.” This type of teaching has led to our “dysfunction of faith.”
Five years ago, as I began my current parish assignment, we were considered one of the largest parishes, if not the largest, after the Cathedral. Each year our First Communion and Confirmation classes were considered one of the largest in the diocese. First Communion averaged about 46, while our Confirmation class easily had over 100 candidates. Since then, each of these sacramental years has dropped to below half. Interestingly enough, this year we had 27 for First Communion and only 28 for Confirmation. Why is this? What has or is causing this decline in those receiving the Sacraments of First Holy Communion and Confirmation?
In recent years Catholic schools have struggled to remain strong and, sadly, many prospective students have gone into hiding. Some areas of the country thrive, while others struggle to maintain a sustainable enrollment. Over the last few years, through research and personal experience, I have become increasingly concerned that unless we change our current attitude toward Catholic Education, it may be lost forever.
How do we begin to change the direction? It begins with a renewal of the way we are teaching the faith. In order to live the faith, we must know it first! The beginning to this task starts with an understanding of who the real “teacher” is.
“Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’ With these words of Christ, St. Bonaventure begins his explanation of the role Christ plays in being the one true teacher of all. St. Bonaventure explains that Christ is the principle and the cause of it all. He is the way, the truth, and the life and everything comes through Him. When we say that Christ is the way, we are saying that He is the principal agent of knowledge that comes to us through faith. This knowledge is twofold because it is acquired through divine Revelation and the authority of Christ.
Having discussed St. Bonaventure’s explanation of the Jesus as the Way, we now turn to the explanation of Jesus as the Truth. I am reminded of the Prologue of St. John’s Gospel. In it we hear about the Word of God being spoken and finally becoming flesh. This very act of God’s spoken word, and the fact that it became flesh, is Truth itself. As we journey here on Earth, we can use science to come to a certain understanding about something and we can believe because of the certitude that is made known through scientific proofs. When we discuss Truth as the word of God, it is irrefutable because God is Truth itself. If God spoke the word and the word became flesh, then Truth is the spoken word of God made manifest to man. As teachers of the faith, we are required to teach the truth, and so, we are required to teach Christ.
Now we will examine Christ as Life. If we say that as the Way, Christ is the principal agent of knowledge, and as Truth we recognize the word of God, then, now, we conclude that because of these we have life. Why? Because Christ as teacher, is the ultimate giver of life.
St. Bonaventure helps us understand that Christ, the Divine Teacher, leads us because He is the way, the truth, and the life. St. Augustine also reminds us in his On the Utility of Belief that what we understand, we owe to reason and what we believe, we owe to authority. It is through these two ways that we come to the knowledge of faith, but it is impossible for us to do so without Christ. If this is true, then we can see that Christ is the author of all Revelation by His coming into our minds and He is the author of all authority by His Incarnation.
Like Christ, the priest is a teacher and must remember that his knowledge is not his own, but a gift given to him by God. Teachers of the faith do not speak on their own, but they speak the Truth that is Christ. Finally, the priest is responsible for guiding everyone to eternal life. He must ensure that as he acts in the person of Christ, or in persona Christi. He is only the instrument used to assist God in His divine plan of salvation. Christ is the One True Teacher, and we are all His students. There have been many who have been instrumental in following the example of Christ the Teacher and the vision of St. Bonaventure. These models of Catholic Education are examples of how a priest is called to be a teacher.
One in particular comes to mind: His Eminence James Francis Cardinal Stafford, the former archbishop of Denver. On June 3, 1986, the then Bishop Stafford was appointed archbishop of Denver. Cardinal Stafford began his tenure very enthusiastically. Almost immediately after his installation, one of his main concerns was the increasing difficulties surrounding the diocesan Catholic schools. Cardinal Stafford’s first plan was to begin the process of eliminating the Catholic schools. In order to assist him in this endeavor, he established a commission to research their viability. While the commission was gathering data, Archbishop Stafford began visiting the Catholic schools to see firsthand what the problem was. After visiting all the Catholic schools within the archdiocese, the archbishop knew how he was going to proceed. His original desire to close the schools was beginning to slowly change. There was still hope!
In order to fulfill his responsibility as teacher, Cardinal Stafford wrote a pastoral letter called, In the Beginning, The Word, and it was published in three distinct parts. On March 25, 1995, the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord, Cardinal Stafford published part one of his pastoral letter and entitled it, Signs of the Times. In part one of his pastoral letter, he explained the concerns he had regarding the Catholic schools of his archdiocese. He mentioned how the enrollment was decreasing and how each year it became more and more difficult to sustain Catholic Education within the Archdiocese of Denver. He also explained the shift in demographics as well as the struggles that the public school system was having. If the public schools were struggling, then, the Catholic schools needed to thrive even more to accomplish the goal of educating the children.
Cardinal Stafford faced a problem. How was he going to save Catholic Education in the Archdiocese of Denver? How was he going to fulfill his responsibility as teacher of his flock? In the end of part one of his pastoral letter, Cardinal Stafford reminded the people of the archdiocese that they were “standing on the threshold of a great period of renewal for Catholic Education in Northern Colorado.” He challenged them to examine their hearts as fellow teachers and witnesses of the faith. He reminded the faithful that the young people were watching.
On May 25, 1995, Cardinal Stafford published part two, called Living Stones. In this part he spoke about the responsibility of all of the faithful to be living stones. By this he meant that each person has a responsibility to encourage and promote Catholic Education. He wanted to re-establish the identity of the Catholic school. Through the years, the diocese had allowed the Catholic identity to fade. The modernism of the times had caused laxity. As society became less religious, unfortunately, so did the identity of the Catholic schools. Cardinal Stafford stated that they could not allow Catholic identity to falter. They had what no other school could offer, namely, Jesus Christ! They had Christ! They had the responsibility to dispense the faith by following the Lord’s command to teach. Even though the road might be difficult, the rewards would be worth it. In closing part two of his pastoral letter, Cardinal Stafford reminded the people of the archdiocese that they are like St. Francis. As St. Francis was chosen to “Rebuild My Church,” so too, they must work together to rebuild the confidence and the institution that is our Catholic Schools. “Brick by brick it can be done, and we must start now.”
On August 15, 1995, Cardinal Stafford would complete his three-part pastoral letter with The Way of the Pilgrim. In bringing his pastoral letter to a close, Cardinal Stafford would now challenge every Catholic within the Denver Archdiocese to support Catholic Education. How to do this? Quite simply, by living out their baptismal call as pilgrims on a journey. Cardinal Stafford reminded the faithful that together they must take their responsibility seriously and transform their schools into the best they can be. He reminded the faithful that sometimes a journey needs renewal in order to reach its destination. How fitting on that the Solemnity of the Assumption this pastoral letter was brought to a close. As Our Blessed Mother assumed her role in Heaven as Queen of Heaven and Earth, the Catholics of the Archdiocese of Denver were challenged to assume their responsibility as teachers of the faith to their young people.
Over the next few weeks, I will be continuing our discussion on the importance of Catholic Education. May Christ the Teacher, teach us the faith once again!

Share Button

2019 The Wanderer Printing Co.

Twitter Feed

Load More...

21,000 sign petition protesting US Catholic bishops vote on Biden, abortion

More than 21,000 people have signed a letter calling for U.S. Catholic bishops to cancel a planned vote on whether President Biden should receive communion.  Biden, a Catholic, supports abortion rights and has long come under attack from some Catholics over that…Continue Reading

Bishop Gorman seeks candidates to fill two full time AP level teaching positions for the 2021-2022 school year in the subject areas of Calculus/Statistics and Physics

Bishop Thomas K. Gorman Regional Catholic School is a college preparatory school located in Tyler, Texas. It is an educational ministry of the Catholic Diocese of Tyler led by Bishop Joseph Strickland. The sixth through twelfth grade school provides a…Continue Reading

Vatican observes ‘Earth Hour’

On Saturday, along with the Vatican, symbolic monuments of cities all across the globe turn off their lights, to demonstrate the serious global climate crisis. By Vatican News staff writer Vatican City State took part in the traditional international initiative Earth…Continue Reading

House passes bill setting up path to citizenship for millions of Dreamers

Lawmakers in the House of Representatives on Thursday passed an immigration bill that would create a path to citizenship for millions of undocumented immigrants who were brought to the country as children.

The Misleading AP Attack on the Catholic Church for Accepting COVID Relief

In early 2020, a pandemic came to America. We started staying home, then we were ordered to stay home. The market tanked. The economy tanked. Unemployment soared. You remember all this, because you lived it. We all did. Congress created a…Continue Reading

Catholic bishop released five days after kidnapping in Nigeria

CNA Staff, Jan 1, 2021 / 10:42 pm MT (CNA).- A Catholic bishop in Nigeria, who was kidnapped on Sunday, has been released unharmed, according to the Archdiocese of Owerri. The diocese, which is in southeastern Nigeria, announced in a social…Continue Reading

More GOP senators vow to challenge Biden’s win

WASHINGTON – A last-ditch effort by President Donald Trump and his allies to overturn the election thrust Washington into chaos Saturday as a growing coalition of Republican senators announced plans to rebel against Senate leaders by seeking to block formal…Continue Reading

Underground Catholic bishop dies in China

CNA Staff, Dec 31, 2020 / 03:25 pm MT (CNA).- According to the Catholic outlet AsiaNews, headquartered in Rome, Bishop Andrea Han Jingtao, 99, a leader in the underground Catholic Church in China, died Dec. 30. Han Jingtao was the…Continue Reading

‘All-star,’ ‘brilliant jurist’: Pro-life leaders thrilled Trump nominated Barrett to Supreme Court

September 26, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – Supreme Court nominee Judge Amy Coney Barrett is “an absolute all-star” and “a judicial role model for the next generation,” pro-life leaders said today.  If confirmed, Barrett will replace pro-abortion Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died just…Continue Reading

Farewell, Uncle Di: Father Paul Mankowski, RIP

My editorial career has brought me into close contact with quite a few impressive thinkers. I have worked with famous authors, with noted theologians and philosophers, with canny political strategists, with at least a half-dozen Nobel Prize winners. Among them…Continue Reading

VIDEO: BLM mob threatens, chases Rand Paul down streets of DC

WASHINGTON, D.C., August 28, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky found himself the target of left-wing violence yet again Thursday night as protesters swarmed him as he was leaving the White House, chasing him and his wife…Continue Reading

Planned Parenthood acknowledges Margaret Sanger’s ‘racist legacy’, continues abortions

CNA Staff, Jul 21, 2020 / 11:05 am MT (CNA).- The New York affiliate of the nation’s largest abortion provider said Tuesday it will remove the name of its founder, Margaret Sanger, from its Manhattan building because of her support…Continue Reading

Untitled 5 Untitled 2

Attention Readers:

  Welcome to our website. Readers who are familiar with The Wanderer know we have been providing Catholic news and orthodox commentary for 150 years in our weekly print edition.

  Our daily version offers only some of what we publish weekly in print. To take advantage of everything The Wanderer publishes, we encourage you to su
bscribe to our flagship weekly print edition, which is mailed every Friday or, if you want to view it in its entirety online, you can subscribe to the E-edition, which is a replica of the print edition.
  Our daily edition includes: a selection of material from recent issues of our print edition, news stories updated daily from renowned news sources, access to archives from The Wanderer from the past 10 years, available at a minimum charge (this will be expanded as time goes on). Also: regularly updated features where we go back in time and highlight various columns and news items covered in The Wanderer over the past 150 years. And: a comments section in which your remarks are encouraged, both good and bad, including suggestions.
  We encourage you to become a daily visitor to our site. If you appreciate our site, tell your friends. As Catholics we must band together to rediscover our faith and share it with the world if we are to effectively counter a society whose moral culture seems to have no boundaries and a government whose rapidly extending reach threatens to extinguish the rights of people of faith to practice their religion (witness the HHS mandate). Now more than ever, vehicles like The Wanderer are needed for clarification and guidance on the issues of the day.

Catholic, conservative, orthodox, and loyal to the Magisterium have been this journal’s hallmarks for five generations. God willing, our message will continue well into this century and beyond.

Joseph Matt
President, The Wanderer Printing Co.

Untitled 1


Adopt A Center

Today . . .

Springfield’s Bishop Paprocki says area Catholics are obligated to start returning to Mass

All Roman Catholics across the Springfield diocese are obligated to attend Mass in person on Sundays and holy days of obligation starting this weekend, said Bishop Thomas John Paprocki. Paprocki’s decision comes as Illinois Friday moves into Phase 5, the final step of the Restore Illinois plan. More news:Illinois’ long-awaited reopening is Friday. Here’s what you need to know That means churches can celebrate Masses and other functions without any capacity restrictions. Since April 11, a par

I definitely felt the Spirit’ – Bishop Olmsted leads hundreds in Eucharistic Procession through Downtown Phoenix

PHOENIX — Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted led more than 400 Catholics in a eucharistic procession of adoration, prayer, hymn singing and silent reflection Sunday morning. The eucharistic procession on June 6, Corpus Christi Sunday, followed Bishop Olmsted’s recent Apostolic Exhortation “Veneremur Cernui – Down in Adoration Falling,” in which he called on parish pastors to lead such a procession annually to promote a deeper understanding and love of the Eucharist.

Archbishop Cordileone: We need ‘major effort’ to ‘re-catechize’ Catholics on the Eucharist

The Archbishop of San Francisco said this week there must be a “major effort” to “re-catechize” Catholics on the Eucharist and worthiness to receive Communion. In an interview which aired on Thursday on EWTN Pro-Life Weekly, Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco said that the matter of “Eucharistic coherence” applies to all Catholics, not just Catholic public officials. The bishops are scheduled to discuss the topic at their upcoming spring meeting from June 16-18, and…Continue Reading

Cardinal Marx offers resignation to Pope Francis

Cardinal Reinhard Marx, the 67-year-old archbishop of Munich and Freising, has offered his resignation to Pope Francis. The influential cardinal is a member of the pope’s Council of Cardinals, the coordinator of the Vatican Council for the Economy, and until last year the chairman of the German bishops’ conference. The archdiocese of Munich and Freising published the cardinal’s letter to the pope and personal declaration on June 4 in German, English, and Italian. In his May 21 letter to the pope,…Continue Reading

Biden eliminates Hyde amendment from 2022 budget request

President Joe Biden on Friday did not include a 45 year-old pro-life policy in his final budget request to Congress for the 2022 fiscal year, thus allowing for funding of abortions. The Hyde Amendment, enacted into law since 1976, bars federal funding of most elective abortions in Medicaid. It is not permanent law, and is attached as a rider to budget bills specifying that the health care funding therein cannot be used for elective abortions…Continue Reading

The End Of Ethics

By DONALD DeMARCO There are two solutions on the horizon to our present national crisis. The first is a purely political one, which seeks to impose a way of life on people in the form of a set of arbitrary rules. We see this today with the widespread imposition of political correctness. The second is…Continue Reading

What Is America’s Cause In The World?

By PATRICK J. BUCHANAN “Take away this pudding; it has no theme,” is a comment attributed to Winston Churchill, when a disappointing dessert was put in front of him.Writers have used Churchill’s remark to describe a foreign policy that lacks coherence or centrality of purpose.For most of our lifetimes, this has not been true of…Continue Reading

Christianity, The Soul Of The World

By FR. DENIS WILDE, OSA One of the most concise yet revealing statements identifying Christianity in the ancient pagan Roman world is from the Letter to Diognetus: “A Christian is to the world what the soul is to the body.” All of these four nouns themselves prompt a certain definition, to be sure, but the…Continue Reading

The Holy Eucharist, The Passion, And The Priesthood

By JAMES MONTI On May 29 I had the privilege of attending in New York the Ordination of ten men to the priesthood at St. Patrick’s Cathedral — six men for the Archdiocese of New York and four for the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal.Even with all the dire news of current evils besetting our…Continue Reading

Our Lady Of Fatima . . . The June 13 Apparition: “Don’t Lose Heart”

By DONAL ANTHONY FOLEY The June 13, 1917 saw the second apparition of Our Lady of Fatima to the young shepherds, Jacinta, Francisco, and Lucia. The message given by the Blessed Virgin on that day is a very important one, indeed vital, but it has been somewhat overshadowed by what she said during the first…Continue Reading


Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

Catholic Replies

Q. When was the Catholic Church born? Was it when Jesus proclaimed, “The kingdom of God is at hand,” when the side of Jesus was pierced and blood and water flowed, or at Pentecost? — J.B., Washington State.A. According to Pope Pius XII, all three of those events signaled the birth of the Church. Writing in his 1943 encyclical on…Continue Reading

Turning Holy Mother Church Into A Repressive State

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK A most un-Catholic spirit is abroad in Rome, seeking to devour legitimate Catholic freedoms. It reveals itself as a repressive regime which values obedience to arbitrary human preference among legitimate options over the free, unchecked movement of the Holy Spirit among the People of God. This approach threatens to choke out the freshness and life…Continue Reading

The Usual Suspects

By FR. JAMES ALTMAN Dear family, in our English lexicon is found the phrase: “The Usual Suspects.” Most often it seems to be a phrase that evokes scorn or, at the very least, significant dismay. “The Usual Suspects” typically is understood in the same vein as “the same cast of characters.” In simple terms, it means that the same set…Continue Reading

The Kingdom Of God Within

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER Eleventh Sunday In Ordinary Time (YR B) Readings: Ezek. 17:22-242 Cor. 5:6-10Mark 4:26-32 In the readings today we have two complementary perspectives regarding the Kingdom of God on Earth. One is more objective and focuses on the Church while the other is subjective and focuses on each person. Regarding the Church, God tells the Prophet Ezekiel…Continue Reading

Catholic Replies

Editor’s Note: Sheila Kippley is an authority on Natural Family Planning (she and her husband John co-founded NFP International) and on the benefits of breastfeeding (see her book The Seven Standards of Ecological Breastfeeding). She has summarized these benefits in an article (“Breastfeeding Does Space Babies and So Much More”) in the online edition of Homiletic & Pastoral Review. You…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes . . . Cardinal Von Galen, “The Lion Of Munster”

By DEB PIROCH As efforts to combat unorthodoxy in Germany continue, we would do well to remember another German of the era of the Second World War, one who remains an eternal witness for us today. Just over a year ago, Germany’s Constitution Court determined physician assisted suicide is constitutional. Until recently, any form of euthanasia has been highly taboo,…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes . . . St. Andrew Bobola

By DEB PIROCH “Andrew,” the name of Christ’s first apostle, is a name taken from the Greek, meaning “strong and manly.” Two of the Gospel writers say Andrew was brother to Peter, both fishermen famously called to follow Christ and become “fishers of men.” Tradition says the first St. Andrew even traveled as a missionary to some of the Slavic…Continue Reading