It’s not all that easy to find something that most people agree with, most of the time. But when it comes to the final weeks of summer vacation and the prospect of returning to school, most people, with rare exception, agree – they aren’t ready.

They need a few more weeks of warm weather and lazy days; swimming, hiking and sightseeing, extra time to be with friends and family, and most especially … more time with no homework. This is a feeling shared by children and their parents … because as often is the case, the school year can be almost as challenging for parents as it is for children. 

No matter how much we may resist, no matter how vivid our dreams of an extended summer may be … the new school year will arrive, right on time.  And with it will come all of the challenges, responsibilities and demands that face school families.

It’s understandable that folks may be reluctant to go back to school. But here is something to consider that may change the way to look at this – students, educators and parents alike. The return to school is the opening of a fresh opportunity to serve the Lord and do his work; to make a difference in the world through the light of our faith.

We know that when teachers teach, and students learn, good things happen.  That includes lessons about faith which help students grow to be true disciples of Christ, and those that open up the worlds of science, math, technology, literature and the arts. Any student or teacher that works hard to achieve their goals, that strives to impact others positively, draw ever closer to Christ, whether they be in Catholic or public school. Every parent that guides and supports his or her children, while fostering respect of teachers and peers, truly does God’s work.

Students in the Church community, whether in Catholic school or parish religious education, are richly blessed by the experience, where they can receive some of the most important lessons of their lives. They learn that everything they have and learn is a gift from God. They learn about our Catholic religion and what the Bible and our Church teaches. They learn how to pray. They learn that we are all created by God and that makes us look at our lives, our families, our friends, our studies, our talents differently.  They learn the difference between right and wrong and why. They learn that Jesus invites us to live a life of love and helping others because that’s what he did, that’s what he wants for us. 

Join me in offering a prayer of thanks to God for our Catholic schools and all that they do for us, and for our parishes, who reach so many Catholic students through religious education programs. Pray for all who support our students as they return to school – parents, principals, teachers and staff, pastors and priests, consecrated religious sisters and brothers, generous benefactors and alumni, catechetical leaders and catechists, and the countless parishioners who all play a role as our students strive to make the most of the coming school year. And pray for our students as they head back to school, that they realize what God is calling them to and make a commitment to live up to that calling. To all I extend my blessing!