To Teach As Jesus Did:
Catholic Education in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee
“Catholic Schools and Memorial Day”
This past week, within one day, I had the opportunity to attend two significant commemorative celebrations: the 20th anniversary of the Waukesha Catholic School System (Waukesha Catholic) and the 30th anniversary of Sagrada Familia (Holy Family) Parish, the Archdiocese of Milwaukee’s sister parish in the Dominican Republic. What powerful experiences these were, representing fifty years of combined service and commitment, in two geographically distant and culturally very different situations, to the one People of God!
Especially touching for me were the moments during both celebrations when those who’d given service over the years were mentioned by name. In the case of Sagrada Familia, the missionaries were called forward and recognized with a standing ovation as they stood humbly before the gathered group, many of whom had themselves visited the Dominican Republic and shared in the service being honored.
Frankly, I was somewhat embarrassed by how little I had known about Sagrada Familia before that anniversary celebration and was gently surprised by many of the individuals who were there: priests and sisters, lay men and women, husbands and wives, young adults and seniors. Many of them were people whose lives had intersected with my own during the past year and whose evident compassion I now recognize as springing from their missionary hearts. I drove home that night reflecting on the hidden goodness of so many unassuming co-workers, the faithful whose greatness is quiet but real.
As we celebrate this Memorial Day and the end of the school year, men and women whose similar, silent greatness, demonstrated through service and sacrifice, are the focus of our special attention as Catholic school educators.
We primarily, of course, remember those men and women in our armed forces who have made the ultimate sacrifice for the freedoms we enjoy. We pray for those who have been injured, physically, mentally, or emotionally in service to their country; for those who are in military training, for those who are currently serving in active duty around the world, and for those in the military reserves who await calls to assist those suffering from a variety of disasters, especially the recent tornadoes in many parts of our own country.
But let us also remember and give thanks for other women and men who live the Gospel through their own professions of radical service and sacrifice, especially missionaries, teachers, administrators, healers, civil servants, Church and civic leaders, parents, caregivers, and all who commit their lives to the spiritual and corporal works of mercy. We especially remember the heroes and heroines who have given their lives in service to Catholic education—some for multiple decades—and those who are currently committed to leading and teaching in our Catholic schools.
As we can, let us call these giants of selflessness to mind by name through prayer and give thanks for them with our imitation and our love.
Kathleen A. Cepelka, Ph.D.
Superintendent of Catholic Schools