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Catholic Schools in the Year of Mercy: “Forgiving 70 x 7 Times”

To Teach as Jesus Did:

Catholic Education in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee

June 15, 2016





Catholic Schools in the Year of Mercy: 

“Forgiving 70 x 7 Times”

As the 2015 – 2016 school year ends, we especially appreciate this month’s theme for the Jubilee Year of Mercy in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee:  “Forgive Offenses Willingly” and “Bear Wrongs Patiently.”   

These Spiritual Works of Mercy prompt each of us to take stock of the past ten months in our role as Catholic educators and ask ourselves questions similar to those referenced in this video by Father Ken Omernick, Archdiocesan “Missionary of Mercy.” 

"Forgive Offenses Willingly" and "Bear Wrongs Patiently"

As we close out this year, perhaps a bit school-weary or work-worn, the two lists Father Ken described might be helpful as we step back and reflect.

Whom or what have we forgiven this year?

Whom or what have we not forgiven?

I once had a teacher who often used an expression with us students that I didn’t fully understand or appreciate at the time:  “Remember that your kitchen will never be completely clean.”  In other words, life will always be messy. 

Fully embracing these Spiritual Works of Mercy that focus on forgiveness demands that we never forget that our ministry of Catholic education is God’s work, not ours, and that we’re charged to keep at it faithfully, though imperfectly. 

Each morning for the past year we arose, prayed, labored, loved, poured ourselves into the challenges before us, and often arrived at the end of the day realizing how inadequate we were.  Each day we no doubt hurt others, however unintentionally, and found ourselves vulnerable to being hurt by them. 

Still, we taught and led and cared for students, their families, and each other as servants of God both forgiven and called to be forgiving of others and ourselves.  In the spirit of these Works of Mercy, we kept praying the words of the “Our Father,” 70 times 7 times—and more:

“Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us…” 

During this upcoming time of summer restoration, wherever we are or whatever we’re doing, let us join with our brothers and sisters throughout the archdiocese in living out the Spiritual Works of Mercy, “Forgive Offenses Willingly” and “Bear Wrongs Patiently” by:

  • Praying daily for our nation, our families, and ourselves, that forgiveness and peace may replace retaliation and violence.
  • Spending a few minutes each day remembering by name those we’ve harmed and those who’ve healed us, entrusting all to God’s goodness and mercy.
  • Participating in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
  • Resolving to let go of grudges, wish no one harm, and teach as Jesus did in the year ahead by being ministers of forgiveness.

A blessed Jubilee Year of Mercy to all!

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

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