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Catholic Schools: Peace-Making in the Year of Faith

To Teach as Jesus Did:

Catholic Education in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee

April 2013


"Catholic Schools:  Peace-Making in the Year of Faith"

Who can deny that we are living in heartbreaking times?

Words like “massacre,” “explosion,” “manhunt,” “suspect,” “terror,” “bombing,” “lockdown,” “maiming,” and “disaster” have recurred in recent news reports, referencing violence of every type.   Our children cannot help but hear, absorb, and wonder what even the most distant of tragedies might mean for them and for those close to them.

In this Easter season, a time of light and hope and promised peace, we continue to believe in the power of the Risen Christ to transform the darkest places of our lives.  We are also challenged, however, to make every effort to communicate the Easter message, “do not be afraid,” to those within our care. 

How can we help the most vulnerable among us?

  • Invite their questions.  Be sure children and young adults know they can raise concerns whenever they wish to do so.
  • Provide honest answers and factual information, without unnecessary details.  Use words and ideas that children can understand. 
  • Speak in a calm, direct, and reassuring manner.  Children are quick to pick up on the worry of others. 
  • Monitor and restrict the images of violence children see.  Such scenes can be haunting, confusing, and enduring in their minds. 
  • Keep life and routines as predictable as possible.  Most children are less interested in the news than in their own activities and relationships.  This is healthy, normal, and good.
  • Focus attention on the trained responders and the generous people who step forward to offer their help in times of need.
  • Where possible, identify and suggest ways to reach out to the grieving:  as a class, a school, a family, or members of a parish. 
  • Pray specifically for those who are suffering and for those who are assisting them in any way.

Finally, as Catholic school educators in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, let us recommit ourselves during this season of Easter to being instruments of God’s peace by:

Teaching and living in the light of kindness, generosity, and grace.

Choosing gentleness over anger, forgiveness over grudges, trust over suspicion, and silence over gossip and complaints.

Grounding our lives in prayer.

Seeking and appreciating the beautiful where it can be found.

Being recognized by our love for God and for one another.

A blessed Easter season to all!

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

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