[COLUMN] The blessings of Catholic education

There’s an old story about a priest celebrating his 50th Anniversary of Ordination. For this occasion, he had invited his personal friend, Richard, to come and recite his favorite Psalm, Psalm 23. His friend agreed to do this on the condition that the priest would also recite it after him.

At the appointed time, Richard stood and proclaimed the popular psalm with such oratorical mastery that the congregation immediately applauded. Then, this humble pastor stood up and began to recite the beloved Psalm from his heart. After he had finished his not-so-professional recitation, the congregation was in awe, and some were moved to tears. Someone in the front pew leaned over to Richard  and asked him, “Why did people applaud you loudly, but were silently moved by the pastor?” Richard  replied, “Because I know the Psalm, but he knows the Shepherd.”

“I know the Psalm, but he knows the Shepherd.” These words, my friends, convey the vision and mission of Catholic education. Our aim goes beyond providing excellent academic formation and a safe place to study. We aspire to guide our children to not only acquire knowledge about Jesus and his teachings but also to cultivate a deep and intimate relationship with God, Jesus, our Lord and Savior. We seek to  foster children who become true friends of Jesus,  capable of sharing their faith with others.

I ask you then  to recognize the transformative power that lies within the heart of Catholic education. For when children embrace the teachings of Jesus  Christ and invite Him into their lives, they are equipped with a resilience that empowers them to triumph over the relentless challenges of our world. It is through the authority of Jesus that they find the strength to resist the snares that seek to destroy their souls—temptations that lure them towards empty pursuits of popularity, wealth, fleeting pleasures, and the corrosive grip of illegal drugs. By embracing Jesus’ authority, we empower them to love unconditionally, forgive wholeheartedly, persevere in their studies, and embody attributes of patience and   kindness.

However, let us not forget that as parents, teachers, and mentors, the mantle of responsibility rests   firmly on our shoulders. It is our duty to lead by example and live out our Christian faith in words and actions. This necessitates sacrificial acts such as praying fervently with our children, engaging in deep and meaningful conversations centered around our Christian beliefs, and consistently reinforcing the values that emphasize the significance of love, family, friendships, and selfless service to others. It is through the authentic embodiment of our faith, grounded in the teachings of the Gospel, that we create an environment of unwavering love, acceptance, and affirmation within our homes and schools—a nurturing haven where our children can thrive.

I ask you to join me in embracing the mission of Catholic education with unwavering determination. Together, let us nurture and guide our children, providing them with an education that not only broadens their minds but enriches their souls. Through this shared endeavor, we enable our children to radiate compassion, morality, and resilience — a luminous force that will positively  impact our world in ways we cannot yet comprehend.

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The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints of the Asian Journal, its management, editorial board and staff.

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Fr. Rodel “Odey” Balagtas is the pastor of Incarnation Church in Glendale, California.


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