At long last, we are poised to start a normal Catholic school year after two full years of unprecedented upheaval. But we have made good use of that time, and I am happy to say that our “new normal” finds us on an even stronger footing than what was seen prior to 2020.

Our schools have grown more in the last two years than perhaps in any recorded period in our 140 years of service to the children of the Diocese of Trenton. Pre-pandemic, of course, our schools didn’t look like our schools circa 1881, but in 2022 they have grown substantially compared to just a few years before. 

As an example, school safety, in all its forms, continues to be a top priority. Our Catholic school environments are now even more secure, more conscious of threats to student health, and concerns can be communicated quickly and concisely. 

Our schools have not only adapted but led the way in the integration of technology to deliver academic content to all our students more effectively in order to maximize their achievement levels.  Catholic schools are now able to individualize the academic programming for students in ways only imagined just a few years ago. Individualization of content now can positively impact all students in our schools.

Catholic school teachers have shown their capacity to be mission driven and live a vocation to educate in a truly and intentionally Catholic environment. Nationally, schools are experiencing teacher shortages due to many abandoning the profession. Covid has had a significant impact on the classrooms. Teachers move on every year from our Catholic schools, as well, but not near the levels our public-school counterparts have experienced. Catholic schools are strong and continue to be staffed by the dedicated, certified, and professional women and men expected to grace our halls.

Catholic school enrollment levels are not only stable but show real signs of growth. The Diocese of Trenton is not only attracting Catholic students back to our rolls, but also new students of diverse backgrounds who would like to experience a faith-filled community that is perhaps lacking in their other options. 

Perhaps most importantly, Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., has given the Diocese of Trenton a true gift by his adoption of Blessed Carlo Acutis as the patron of our local Catholic schools. This young man of deep Catholic faith will not only become a role model for our students, but also be easily identifiable as a contemporary of our students based on his age and interests. He was a young man who played soccer, enjoyed Sony PlayStation, and developed websites as a teenager. He was a wonderful young man whose deep faith and prayer led his daily life and choices. Above all, Carlo had a great devotion to Christ present in the Eucharist. This is especially significant as the Diocese of Trenton begins the Eucharistic Revival. What a great role model for our students! 

Our fervent hope is that having Blessed Carlo Acutis as our patron will deepen our students’ faith and continue to define our rich Catholic identity. Like Blessed Carlo, may our students also grow to love Christ Jesus in the Eucharist, his most precious gift.

I invite you to investigate our Catholic schools and see all that is happening to bring real growth and achievement to the students we are blessed to serve in our Catholic schools.  You can follow what is happening in our schools at: www.catholicschoolshaveitall.org

Please keep our students in your daily prayers and may Blessed Carlo Acutis guide our schools.