Editorial — Celebrating Catholic schools

Marnie McAllister

During the 2023 Catholic Social Ministry Gathering, Cardinal Wilton D. Gregory told participants that the church’s social ministry must be embraced by the whole church: families, parishes, schools, colleges and universities and other “institutions.”

“A Catholic community of faith which is not serious about our common social mission is not truly and completely Catholic,” he told the hundreds of participants who represented about 100 dioceses at the Washington, D.C., event.

The Jan. 28 to 31 gathering overlapped this year with National Catholic Schools week, a time for celebrating what makes Catholic education unique. And a key component — as indicated by the week’s theme “Faith. Excellence. Service.” — is serving others.

Social ministry flourishes at Catholic schools. And it is integral to the curriculum in Archdiocese of Louisville schools. High schools offer courses in Catholic social teaching and children as young as age 4 take part in hands-on activities, such as those reported by Kayla Bennett in this week’s edition.

On any given day, you may find local Catholic school students making greeting cards for nursing home residents, serving lunch to hungry people, repairing homes in Appalachia or even leading a graveside service for someone who died in destitution.

Older students — those in middle and high school — take opportunities to petition lawmakers at the state and federal level about issues of justice.
Assumption High School’s service learning director, Katie Culver, explained that service work is directly linked to theology curriculum.

“When they are learning about the works of Mercy, they do works of mercy. When they are learning about marginalized people and justice issues, they spend time serving those communities,” she said in a reflection provided to The Record. “We work hard to not only instill the importance of direct ministry, but also how essential the service of advocacy is to change the systems that create the very issues that call us to be servants for others in the first place.”

St. Albert the Great School teacher Carrie Early noted in a reflection that students preparing for Confirmation have special opportunities to be formed by social ministry, particularly during a mission trip to Appalachia.

“They experienced the joy of helping others in need and how, even as young men and women, they can make an impact,” she said. “As our eighth graders continue their journey, they have learned that serving others is living their faith and walking in the footsteps of Jesus.

If, as Cardinal Gregory says, a community of faith must be serious about social ministry to be truly and completely Catholic, our Catholic schools can provide an example to us and our other institutions. That’s something to celebrate.


Marnie McAllister
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Marnie McAllister
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