During my travels around the Diocese of St. Cloud, I’ve had the opportunity to visit many of our Catholic schools, and I’m inspired by what I have seen. We are blessed with teachers, principals and staff who are committed to fostering excellence in all areas of school life. And, through their teaching and personal witness, they are helping their students to grow closer to Christ and live out Gospel values in their schools, homes and communities.
Catholic Schools Week is a wonderful opportunity for us to celebrate this ministry. A highlight for me was last Wednesday, when more than 2,000 Catholic school students came to St. John’s Abbey Church for Mass with me, Abbot John Klassen and several area priests.
It was exciting to see so many youth coming together to share their faith, and it was a reminder of the important role Catholic schools play in the evangelizing mission of the church.
I am a product of this evangelizing mission. Growing up in Sioux Falls, S.D., I attended St. Joseph Cathedral Grade School (where I was taught by the Sinsinawa Dominican Sisters) and then high school at Trinity Prep School in Sioux City, Iowa. A Catholic school education was an important way my family and I stayed connected to the faith, and it was an important influence in my decision to serve the church as a priest.
I am a strong supporter of Catholic schools, in part, because of my experiences as a student. As a pastor and bishop, I also have seen firsthand how Catholic schools advance the church’s mission by proclaiming the Gospel’s message, educating the whole person, building community and promoting service to others.
My goal as your bishop is to make the Catholic schools in our diocese as strong as possible and available to all families who desire a Catholic school education for their children. Yes, there will be challenges ahead, including the rising cost of education. But, thankfully, schools in many areas of the diocese have a long history of collaboration and resource-sharing to strengthen their ministries and service to families.
Also, during the 2015 legislative session, the Minnesota Catholic Conference is advocating for two education-related initiatives to give more parents the means to send their children to the school of their choice. You can read more about these proposals on the conference’s website at www.mncc.org.
Catholic schools are, and will remain, an important priority for our diocese and for me personally. As this year’s Catholic Schools Week theme recognizes, our schools make crucial contributions to our church and society as “communities of faith, knowledge and service.”
I extend my gratitude to all Catholic school principals, teachers and staff for their ministry and service, and I encourage them to continue to grow in their personal relationship with Christ and share their faith ever more deeply with their own families and the students they teach.
May God bless our Catholic schools,
+Donald J. Kettler
Bishop of St. Cloud