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Catholic Schools, the Communion of Saints, and the "Red Sea"

To Teach as Jesus Did:

Catholic Education in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee

November 8, 2013




Catholic Schools, the Communion of Saints, and the “Red Sea”

Yesterday a visitor to the Cousins Center and her daughter-in-law asked me about our philosophy of Catholic education in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee.   They also inquired about reference materials and resources they could access to learn more about why we do what we do in our schools.  Although tempted to turn over various Church documents from my shelves or send them to our website, I stated simply, “We prepare students to be successful in life and to become saints forever.”  The woman responded graciously, “Thank you.  Truth is almost always that simple.”

How fitting that our first “Walk for Catholic Education” occurred on All Souls Day, the day after the Solemnity of All Saints.  As I stood on the stage that morning at Mount Mary University and looked out over the massive crowd of red—parents, students, grandparents, alumni, pastors, principals, teachers, friends, and supporters from every corner of the Archdiocese—I was deeply moved by the diverse  “coming together” of that group. 

People had traveled to Mount Mary from rural areas and from suburbs, from just across 92nd Street and from the heart of Milwaukee, from Sheboygan and Delavan, from Kenosha, Fond du Lac, and Racine.  We were, on November 2, a microcosm of both our world and our Church, proudly perpetuating the 170-year-old mission of Catholic education in this area of Wisconsin.

“Why ‘red’ for the event?” some have asked.  In many ways, it seemed like the perfect color to symbolize the renaissance of whole-heartedness, identity, and hope we’re experiencing across the landscape of our Catholic schools at this time in our history.    

One high school president described waiting and watching for the walk to actually begin from his position in his school’s “Treat and Tweet” tent along the route.  “At first it was a trickle,” he said, “and then the red tsunami hit!” 

Although that “red sea” of people who gathered and walked in suburban Milwaukee on November 2 looked quite different from those who traveled to Catholic schools in the towns and on the hilltops of southeastern Wisconsin in the mid-1800’s, our core purpose as Catholic educators has not changed over 170 years.  We remain profoundly committed to forming students in the ways of holiness and equally grateful for all the saintly men and women who prepared us for this task.   

Next year, perhaps a band will play “When the Saints go Marching In” as the lead-off tune for the event!  Until then, thanks to everyone who walked, donated, pledged, prayed, volunteered, or supported this year’s event in any way. 

God bless you.

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

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