Catholic Schools: Faith, academics, service


We will begin augmenting my printed column with occasional “video columns” beginning today!

For the February episode of Conversations, our monthly half-hour television program, I interviewed Rich Lechleiter, Vice President and CFO of Kindred Healthcare, who serves as the chairman of the board for the Catholic Education Foundation and who, with his wife Janice and their four children, are members of Holy Spirit Parish.

This 9-minute interview will be the first of a series of “video columns” that we will be offering through our website and The Record. Viewing the video column is easier than you might think. After you have finished reading this column, I encourage you to go to to https://youtu.be/ PWzwRzc3-7g to view it.

In the interview, Rich begins by talking about his experience with Catholic education. Rich describes how his 16 years in Catholic schools made a difference in his life and motivated his desire to “give back” by helping others through the Catholic Education Foundation.

For those of you who might not be familiar with the Foundation, it began in 1997 after the successful Endowment for Excellence Campaign led by our late Archbishop Thomas C. Kelly. This campaign and the endowment created from it were two of the many wonderful legacies of Archbishop Kelly, who died suddenly but peacefully last month.

Rich outlines how the Catholic Education Foundation helps Catholic education through its major priority: the funding of tuition assistance for families who wish to send their children to Catholic schools and how it also support initiatives in professional development, educational technology, and religious education. He describes how the foundation plans to increase the funds provided, especially for tuition assistance. Rich is a dynamic and talented leader, and I think you will enjoy the interview.

This interview is especially timely since we will be celebrating Catholic Schools Week next week. I am writing to you from Rome, where I am on an ad limina visit with the rest of the bishops from Region 5, which includes the states of Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi. Since I will be here through next week, our Vicar General, Father Mark Spalding, will be presiding at the Catholic Schools Week Mass to be held next Tuesday at Holy Trinity Parish.

I will miss being at Mass with the representatives of our parishes and schools, who bring such faith-filled energy with them, but will keep all in my prayers. This year’s theme: “Catholic Schools: Faith, Academics, Service” speaks well to the threefold mission of our Catholic schools: the deepening of ourCatholic faith, excellence in education, and the formation of character that seeks to follow Jesus’ example of serving rather than being served.

This mission is realized daily in the regular prayers that are said in the classrooms, in regular Mass attendance, through participation in retreats and service projects, in the countless hours that teachers spend in and out of the classroom with students, and in the caring communities that both nurture and challenge our young people.

As Catholics we are always called to look outward, and our schools also provide many gifts to the broader community by producing people of faith, engaged citizens, well-prepared employees, and by raising the educational bar for all schools. The contributions made by Catholic schools to the common www.ceflou.org directly from the mission of Catholic schools, because as reflected in our mission and vision statements for Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of Louisville, all schools are called to transform students and through them transform our world in light of the Gospel message.

Of course, we could not carry out this ministry without the dedicated leadership of our pastors, principals, teachers, and staff and without the support of our alumni, parents, friends, and parishioners. Whether you have a family member in Catholic schools, benefitted from Catholic schools yourself, or are a person of good will who recognizes how Catholic education serves the common good, I invite you to pray, give thanks, and support our schools and the Catholic Education Foundation.

There are many opportunities to support the Catholic Education Foundation through participation in the Salute to Catholic School Alumni Dinner on March 14 at the Galt House Hotel, through your donations to the annual Easter collection at your parish, or through your direct gift to the Foundation. Go to www.ceflou.org to find out more.

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