January 29, 2017

The First Friday celebrations that Father Baugh started several years ago have been relocated to Immaculate Conception starting February 3.  OLMC will continue offering the Sacrament of Penance on First Fridays from 3-4 in the Rectory. IC will offer the Sacrament of Penance from 5-6:30 followed by a Rosary at 6:30 and then the First Friday Mass at 7pm.  This is another great way that our two parishes can work together for the benefit of our entire community of faith.


As we celebrate Catholic Schools Week I think we need to be reminded that Catholic schools are good community institutions for the same reason that they are good educationalinstitutions. The members of the school community create an environment of faith, trust, family involvement, and high expectations. This positive environment reaches beyond the classrooms of Mater Dei and benefits the local community. As Pope Pius XI wrote in the      Encyclical on Christian Education “The proper and immediate end of [Catholic] education is to cooperate with divine grace in forming the true and perfect Christian, that is, to form Christ Himself in those regenerated by Baptism...For precisely this reason, [Catholic] education takes in the whole aggregate of human life, physical and spiritual, intellectual and moral, individual, domestic and social, not with a view of reducing it in any way, but in order to elevate, regulate and perfect it, in accordance with the example and teaching of Christ.”


Unfortunately, we are facing a crisis in Catholic education. In the past two decades, approximately 2,000 schools have closed nationally. Many of these schools served as community anchors for generations, providing a quality education to Catholic and non-Catholic children alike. These community institutions will not easily be replaced.


Yet, there is hope.  The closures are often related to decreased enrollment. This does not reflect a lack in interest among families. Many families, simply cannot afford the cost of tuition despite generous subsidies provided by the Church. This one reason why the “Support a Student” program is so important for Mater Dei Academy.


In order to address this problem, states from across the country are adopting school choice policies in hopes of increasing the availability of a nonpublic school education. These policies include vouchers, the Ed Choice program, and other states have scholarship tax credits, and education savings accounts. These programs have made a Catholic education more affordable. As a result, some states have successfully turned the tide of declining enrollment and closures.


My assertion has always been that while government intervention may be necessary, local support for MDA and all Catholic Schools is much more beneficial.  We are so greatly blessed to have a thriving and growing school here and the more we can back and encourage the wonderful programs at Mater Dei, the more our community will benefit. I implore everyone, whether you have children of school age or not, to attend one of the open house opportunities, or call for a tour, to see first-hand how Catholic Schools make a difference in our community.


Catholic Education blessings and be encouraged, we are all journeying with you. I pray our Lord richly blesses you. Always remember that I love you, there is no way I will ever love you less, and I will continue to pray for you every day. Please remember me and the priests who serve you in love.   ~ Fr. Behrend