On Aug. 8, the feast of St. Dominic, Archbishop Shelton J. Fabre celebrated the annual opening Mass for educators heading into a new school year.
Archbishop Fabre told his listeners gathered at St. Bernadette Church in Prospect, Ky., that St. Dominic formed his followers to understand, live and preach their faith. Catholic schools have a mission to do the same, he said.
“To know God and to know his love and to proclaim it and live it is the reason Catholic schools exist,” said Archbishop Fabre.
Teaching math and science and assisting students with extracurricular activities helps to prepare them “for life beyond the required 12 years of education” and to enter the workforce, he noted.
That preparation, the archbishop said, fits within the larger mission of Catholic education, which is to help students grow as “women and men of faith and virtue” able to “proclaim what Jesus has done, is doing and calls us to do.”
The archbishop told the congregation that their presence indicated their support for the mission of Catholic schools. He noted that each educator is entrusted with their share of that mission, and he thanked them for their “daily dedication” to carrying it out.
Carrying out this mission isn’t easy, said Archbishop Fabre: There are many challenges to overcome as teachers “seek to prepare students to live as people of faith in the world today.” Jesus, he said, knows those challenges.
Archbishop Fabre drew their attention to the day’s Gospel reading from the Book of Luke, where Jesus calls his followers to focus solely on him.
He does so because “he knows we need him to strengthen and guide us but also because there’s great temptation for us to lose focus,” said the archbishop.
“Without focus on the mission, the human heart easily goes astray in ministry and falls into so many temptations that take us away and hinder our work,” he said.
Discipleship will have the “greatest impact on the students,” he said.
“Minister and serve well — to the best of your ability — pray often and be on the lookout for the many ways Jesus will be with you,” he said.
The archbishop prayed that God would bless the educators daily through the intercession of St. Dominic, who founded the Order of Preachers in 1216.
Following the liturgy, the educators had the opportunity to spend time together, meeting in groups according to the grade and subject they teach.
Mary Beth Bowling, superintendent of Catholic schools in the archdiocese, told them the gathering provided “a networking opportunity to talk with others who do the same work you do. We’re better together.”