June/July 2019 Four County Catholic
“Train the young in the way they should go; even when old, they will not swerve from it. ” Proverbs 22:6
My dear sisters and brothers in Christ,
June is a time of joyful exhilaration for our young people as another school year comes to completion. As we transition from the Easter season and Pentecost back into Ordinary time, I would like to take this opportunity to reflect on education, learning and faith.
I had the pleasure of experiencing several commencement exercises across the diocese. Celebrating their accomplishments, I extend my congratulations to our recent eighth grade, high school and college graduates. As the word commencement notes, graduation is not the end of their journey but rather a new beginning, a life-long journey of learning because as those of us who have been out of school for a while can attest –– learning never ends.
The cultivation of knowledge is important to us on a diocesan level, since an education that is grounded in the Gospel, as our diocesan schools and CCD programs provide, instills values that can and have changed the world.
Prior to graduating from Morehouse College, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. wrote,
We must remember that intelligence is not enough. Intelligence plus character–that is the goal of true education. The complete education gives one not only power of concentration, but worthy objectives upon which to concentrate.
Worthy objectives. There is no more worthwhile cause than living the Gospel message of love and forgiveness. The young people who have been educated in our diocesan schools and CCD programs have been taught that education and knowledge gained are gifts to be shared, so that the joy of the Gospel can be experienced by all people.
I am confident that many of these young people will go on to play a productive part in the life of society by making their voices heard on issues of national interest, such as poverty, immigration and pro-life matters. Some will rather use their hands and feet in soup kitchens, hospitals, and the media to help the marginalized live a life of dignity.
Educators, thank you for your patient pursuit in instilling a love for learning in our young people. As your shepherd, I want to thank those educators who have introduced their students to the person of Jesus Christ, encouraging them through word and action to have a personal relationship with Jesus. I’ve heard it said that model teachers are those who use themselves as bridges over which they invite their students to cross. Then having facilitated their crossing, joyfully collapse, encouraging them to create bridges of their own. Model teachers make the journey better for all of us. Thank you.
Parents, grandparents and extended families, I especially want to thank you for being the principal and first educators of our young people. Having nieces and nephews of my own, I know that this task isn’t always easy. Thank you for sharing your faith with the next generation. And for those of you who may feel that your own preparation in this area is lacking, please know that there are many resources to help you with this primary responsibility. The Director of Religious Education at your parish can point you in the right direction. Remember, learning never ends.
The Office of Faith Events, one of the many ministries supported by the ACA, recently unveiled a new faith formation curriculum that will be implemented in the fall. Developed, over two years, by a dedicated committee composed of clergy and catechetical leaders from throughout the Diocese, this new curriculum invites catechists to become part of a relational process of faith formation, sharing their knowledge of the faith as well as personally reflecting on their own faith journey.
Their research shows that this relational sharing makes faith both real and relevant for young people today. Or to put it another way, as the first century Greek philosopher Plutarch wrote ––
The mind is not a vessel that needs filling but wood that needs igniting.
I look forward to witnessing the fruits of this new approach over the next few years.
My prayer for all of you is that your faith is ignited in the same way that the Holy Spirit ignited the faith of the apostles at Pentecost. May young and old alike have a safe, restful and enlightening summer.
Sincerely yours in Christ’s guiding love,
Bishop of Norwich