This Sunday we mark the beginning of “Catholic Schools Week”, and over the next seven days, schools in every parish in this country will celebrate their identity, the spirit in which they live, teach and study, right from the ringing of the first bell on Monday morning right through to the closing of books on Friday evening, and most importantly, beyond the school gates.
For we know that school is so much more than pupils and teachers; yes, they’re at the heart of it, but it’s about lives, families and communities, about our parish and the Church. School is about life. Is it not here that lasting friendships form, where thought honed and skill learned, memory and experience, ideals and ideas grow, where virtue and value are nourished, and the well of Faith is drawn from? For Catholics education is not just a right but a responsibility for us to provide and to see it right, maybe that’s why we have such an interest in it.
We learn in the presence of others and for Catholic Schools, we learn with our brothers and sisters in faith. In recent times our schools have welcomed children of other faiths and traditions too. Our school is a community of faith for at the heart of our school is our Lord Jesus Christ who not only builds community, but challenges us to live up to that unity. St. Paul, in today’s second reading, uses the great image of the perfect community, the body, where no one part can say to the other you’re not important or valued, but where one is hurt, all share that pain, where one is given special honour, all parts share the glory.
Our parish communities can be strengthened and deepened so that the gospel passage of today can become real in lives young and old, that the poor will be brought the Good News, freedom to prisoners, the downtrodden set free, and to those who are blind, new sight but we can only do so by allowing Christ to be the centre of our community.
The theme for Catholic Schools Week is “Communities of Faith – Sharing the Good News”. We have begun the Year of Faith, an invitation for people to rediscover the joy of believing, of moving closer to the Lord in the celebration of his Sacraments and allowing his love to shine out in the world through us. During this week, may we all celebrate and experience the joy and happiness of being part of a developing, loving and caring community, growing in communion with Christ and with each other.
(Fr Kevin Heery, celebrant of Mass on RTE TV, Sunday 27 January 2013)