On Monday, about 120 administrators and teachers from our seven Catholic schools gathered for a conference at St. Anthony’s Tri Parish School in Casper.  Our presenter for the day was Dr. Ray Wicks, from St. Louis.  Of course, Deacon Vernon Dobelmann was his ever present and helpful self as the Director of our Catholic Schools.

More than anything, the day provided a great opportunity for our educators to come together for support and relationship building.  It offered a glimpse into the sometimes forgotten reality that “we are not alone” in our ministry of Catholic Education.  There is always strength in numbers!

I was glad to have an opportunity within the context of the Mass we celebrated to thank these men and women for their dedication to this important ministry of Catholic Education.  Our Catholic schools offer a great environment to form young people according to the Gospel.  Such language was offered us by St. Paul in the first reading in the Letter to the Romans:

Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an Apostle and set apart for the Gospel of God, which he promised previously through his prophets in the holy Scriptures, the Gospel about his Son, descended from David according to the flesh, but established as Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness through resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord.  Through him we have received the grace of apostleship, to bring about the obedience of faith, for the sake of his name, among all the Gentiles, among whom are you also, who are called to belong to Jesus Christ;

Indeed, all of us are called to belong to Jesus Christ.  Our Catholic Schools provide a great opportunity for our young people to not only learn about Jesus and His Gospel, but to encounter Christ.  This encounter with Christ is crucial, and central to the work of the Church.  Jesus came into the world to reveal God to us, and to lead us back to God.  In Him, each person finds the fullness of God’s Kingdom, the fullness of life, the fullness of Truth, and the full understanding of their own self-identity.  Our greatest knowledge of Christ comes through this encounter, and this encounter is what calls each of us to be Christ’s disciples.

We are grateful for our Catholic Schools.  We are grateful for our Catholic School administrators and teachers, and the many individuals and families and parishes that support them.  Catholic Schools and Catholic Education have always entailed a certain amount of sacrifice to build and sustain, and this is no different today.  I pray our Catholic Schools continue to build up the faith through each of our students and their families, and that our people may always see a solid Catholic Education as something well worth the sacrifice it entails.