By Ruby Thomas, Record Staff Writer
More than 700 Catholic elementary school educators heard gratitude for their work and received encouragement for their vocation during an annual liturgy Aug. 10 at St. Margaret Mary Church on Shelbyville Road.
In her welcoming remarks Leisa Schulz, superintendent of schools for the Archdiocese of Louisville, referred to those gathered as “dedicated gardners” — referring to this year’s theme “Sowing Seeds of Faith and Knowledge.”
“Whether we’re new to teaching or returning after many years, we are called to serve the Lord and sow seeds of knowledge and love,” said Schulz. “Thank you for saying yes to the wonderful call of Catholic school ministry.”
Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz, who presided, thanked his listeners for the sacrifices they make as educators.
He also challenged them — in the spirit of St. Lawrence, who he said worked for the welfare of the most needy — to reach out this school year to those students who may need extra encouragement.
The archbishop used the analogy of a new $50 bill, which he said still retains its value after being crumpled, toss to the floor and stomped upon.
In the same way, he said, a child who comes to school unprepared because of circumstances in his life is still worthy of a good education.
He encouraged teachers to ask themselves if this is their year to say the “dangerous prayer,” which he said is this: “Lord give me the person no one wants to love.”
The archbishop told his listeners that the prayer is a “vocation prayer” that will enable them to say, “I don’t want to do the minimum. I want to
reach out to that student who really needs me.”
Archbishop Kurtz also reminded the educators that “true education is meant to help young people uncover their role in society, as well as to uncover the love and truth of Christ.”
For Julie McGrath — who just moved to Louisville and is a new preschool teacher at Holy Trinity School — the archbishop’s message was just the inspiration she was looking for.
“It’s a great and simple prayer to take along, to remind you of why you’re here and do what we do,” said McGrath.
The gathering also served as a catalyst to get teachers excited about and focused on the new school year.
“It’s an inspiring and faith-filled event,” said Lynn Wilt, principal of John Paul II Academy. “This gathering gives a powerful sense of unity to the Archdiocese of Louisville and Catholic schools.”
During a phone interview, Schulz said the annual gathering is important in celebrating a “common mission.”
“Coming together creates a powerful atmosphere,” she said. “There is power in numbers. When we come together there’s a spirit of collective support and affirmation of the ministry we do.”