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Catholic Schools: Solidarity in Faith

To Teach as Jesus Did:

Catholic Education in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee

August 28, 2014





“Catholic Schools:  Solidarity in Faith

Earlier this week, I participated in the profoundly moving prayer vigil at Marquette University celebrating the life of James Wright Foley, the 40-year-old journalist barbarically murdered in Syria last week.  Of course, words fail in any attempt to describe our collective and personal emotions in the wake of this unthinkable tragedy, but I was unexpectedly struck by and motivated to share thoughts about one aspect of the gathering at Gesu that seemed relevant for all of us Catholic educators, especially as a new school year begins.

I did not know James Foley personally, but I do know Marquette.  And, perhaps more importantly, I know and believe in the rock-solid type of faith community that Catholic education at all levels and in all places can create, nurture, and sustain.   James Foley graduated from Marquette in 1996 and was remembered at this service by what seemed like hundreds of former classmates and friends from around the globe who returned to MU, as evidence of its enduring capacity for community, to tell his story.

That story was, from every perspective, fundamentally about faith. 

Everyone who spoke in some way referenced the cherished beliefs and practices of James, his family, and those who kept vigil with him in spirit through his periods of captivity and his journalistic service.  The Rosary.  Scripture.  Long talks with fellow captives about both temporal and eternal values.  Letters and phone calls home in which he thanked for prayers.

James Foley, his family, and his Marquette community of friends even now, almost 20 years after their graduation, shared a solidarity based on faith.

As this new school year opens, let us renew our commitment to developing the kind of faith-based community in our schools

where every student, teacher, and staff member feels safe, noticed, appreciated,
and held up in prayer,

and which current and future pursuers of justice and of truth can call home.


Have a blessed school year!


Kathleen A. Cepelka, Ph.D.
Superintendent of Catholic Schools

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