By Jessica Able, Record Staff Writer
Students, faculty, staff and volunteers from schools in the Archdiocese of Louisville gathered at St. Agnes Church, 1920 Newburg Road, Jan. 26 for the archdiocese’s annual Catholic Schools Week Mass.
The theme for the national week of recognition — celebrated locally from Jan. 25 to 29 — is “Catholic Schools: Communities of Faith, Knowledge, and Service.”
There are more than 19,000 students and 1,500 faculty and staff members at 49 Catholic elementary and secondary schools in the archdiocese.
Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz celebrated the liturgy and reminded the students gathered about the “gift” of Catholic schools.
“Today is a special day to pray for those who assist you, especially your parents and teachers who make possible the great gift of Catholic education,” the archbishop said.
In his homily, Archbishop Kurtz said that everyone benefits from having a mentor. He described a mentor as someone who reaches out to walk with you.
“A mentor can change your life. They allow you to uncover gifts in your life that you never knew you had. In Catholic schools, we need mentors,” he said.
The archbishop referred to the day’s reading, from the Second Letter to Timothy, and noted that Jan. 26 was the feast day of Sts. Timothy and Titus. St. Timothy, the archbishop said, was mentored by St. Paul.
In the Second Letter to Timothy, Paul writes, “I remind you to stir into flame the gift of God that you have through the imposition of my hands.”
“A mentor is not only interested in helping you uncover your gift, but a mentor won’t let you forget about it,” Archbishop Kurtz said.
The archbishop said St. Paul used every vehicle available to him to spread the message of Christ — by
preaching, by speaking with his friends and by writing. He said if St. Paul were alive today, he would likely use the Internet as another way to spread his message. The archbishop lauded the benefits of the Internet but cautioned against its pitfalls.
He noted that the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a formal statement last November called “Create in Me a Clean Heart.” (The document addresses pornography and the Internet.)
“It is about the Internet and the misuse of the Internet,” he told the students. “It’s about the way people exploit other people.”
Archbishop Kurtz said the Internet is a gift but it has to be used well.
“Today I ask you to consider how you are going to make the Internet an opportunity for God’s grace — something positive that helps you to reach out, not to exploit other people, but rather to serve people well,” he said, telling the students, “You are called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ.”
During the liturgy, several archdiocesan awards were presented to educators and a school volunteer. They are:
- Fred Klausing, principal of St. Bernard School, received the Distinguished Elementary Principal Award.
- Thomas Malewitz, a teacher at St. Xavier High School, was awarded the Outstanding Religious Educator Award.
- Carole Moch Baines, a volunteer at Presentation Academy, received the Outstanding School Volunteer Award.
- Kathleen Willenbrink, resource coordinator for St. Leonard School, was named the Father Joseph McGee Outstanding Catholic Educator. (A story on Willenbrink was published in the Jan. 14 edition of The Record.)
Four elementary school students were also recognized as winners of the Catholic Education Foundation’s poster and essay contests. The contests invites students to demonstrate the ways in which Catholic schools are “Communities of Faith, Knowledge, and Service.” The winners and their work are listed in the Catholic Schools Week supplement in this week’s Record.