To Teach as Jesus Did:
Catholic Education in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee
March 7, 2014
“Lent 2014: Choose Life”
These bleak winter months have tested even the most resilient spirits. Since the end of the Christmas season, the Ordinary Time of the Church Year has felt quite extraordinary to everyone in the 10 counties of our archdiocese who’s had to battle the constant rotation of snow, cold, ice, and danger that’s filled our nights and days. As Catholic educators, we’ve struggled to press on in our mission through these difficult months of hazardous conditions, school closures, and countless other trials, but we have indeed persevered.
Now at last it’s Lent.
Since childhood, I’ve loved the quiet and rhythm and rituals of this season. There’s a certain sameness about these days that removes many distractions and helps us in our efforts to establish habits of prayer, self-denial, and thoughtfulness toward others. In the vernacular of our parents and grandparents, it’s a kind of spiritual “spring cleaning” that challenges us to put aside or even discard what we don’t need in order to concentrate on what matters, not just for today, but for eternity.
In our Catholic schools, we enjoy the unique privilege of observing “prayer, fasting, and almsgiving,” the central themes of Lent, not just as individuals but as communities. In spirit and in reality, we walk the Lenten journey—worshiping, abstaining, and serving those in need—together. Where else in our society can people do this? Where else do almost 35,000 people, youth and adults alike, unite each day as a dispersed but cohesive community of faith, to commit themselves to values that transcend the here and now? This is how Lent happens in the 110 Catholic schools of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee.
Recently, in a Sunday homily at the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist, Bishop Sklba related an anecdote that has shaped my Lenten reflection. Through a simple story, he reminded the congregation that “the Sisters taught us correctly. What we think translates into what we say. And what we say becomes what we do.”
In this light, I propose that all of us strive, in the midst of a world pervaded by negativity, violence, suspicion, and conflict, to become a Lenten community of kind thoughts--Catholic educators who choose to be life-giving in what we think, say, and do.
Let’s think about and pray generously for each other this Lent,
speak support to those who need our strength,
and act in such a way that all will want to know
the God who gives us life.
A blessed Lent!
Kathleen A. Cepelka, Ph.D.
Superintendent of Catholic Schools