Celebrate Catholic Schools (and the women who built them)!

logoAs a young child, I loved Catholic Schools Week (this year, Jan. 31-Feb. 6). During my elementary-school years my school's celebration often included activities such as coloring a poster or bookmark with the Catholic Schools Week logo, attending a school-wide Mass, or eating a free ice cream sundae after lunch. These events, while enjoyable in and of themselves, also provided the added benefit of taking up class time, which meant the best perk of all: no homework.

Today, I've come to a greater understanding of what it means to celebrate the depth and value of my 12 years of Catholic education. I appreciate the sense of community fostered during that time, the value of discipline and even the uniforms. And since 1990, even Washington has taken note, by designating a national appreciation day:


"As part of Catholic Schools Week, National Appreciation Day For Catholic Schools will be observed Wednesday, Feb. 3. National Appreciation Day was established to encourage supporters nationwide to showcase to elected officials the great accomplishments and contributions of Catholic schools. In Washington, a delegation of Catholic school students, teachers and parents will visit Capitol Hill to meet with congressional leaders to promote Catholic schools."

I've also gained a greater appreciation for the women religious who helped shape my school experience and their predecessors who helped to establish and grow the first Catholic schools in America. Although the presence of women religious in schools has dropped since its height in the mid-1960s, their legacy remains and their good work continues. Therefore, I was thrilled to learn about the traveling exhibit called "Women & Spirit: Catholic Sisters in America" now at the S. Dillon Ripley Center at the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C. The exhibit not only highlights the contributions of women religious to education, but their work to further heath care, science, human rights and assistance to the poor.

The exhibit's next stops include New York City; Dubuque, Iowa; and South Bend, Ind. Catholic educators in those cities should consider taking students on a field trip to the exhibit. The students will certainly appreciate missing class and the possibility of fewer homework assignments, but they might also learn a thing or two about the many ways in which their lives, their education, their country have been and will continue to be changed by these strong, faith-filled women.

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8 years 11 months ago
I will get clobbered with words for this. Oh well. That is OK.

Old Style Jesuit - Profile of Fr. Hardon 2003

Summons to Rome

"Fr. Hardon remembers something else about being a young Jesuit: the "fourth vow" he took of loyalty to the pope – something far too many have forgotten, or ignore. His own unyielding fidelity to that vow, in a Church riven by dissent, has earned him the high esteem of the Holy See, which again and again has called him to help lead the battle to preserve Catholic truth.

He was first summoned to Rome, Fr. Hardon recalls, a quarter-century ago. His mission: "to help save what could be saved of women's religious orders," which were already being secularized in the name of "renewal."

As part of that effort, in 1969 he helped to found the Consortium Perfectae Caritatis, named for the Vatican II document on religious life. In 1973 he helped organize the Institute for Religious Life, which today is a thriving organization that boasts among its membership thousands of the most orthodox clergy and religious in America... president.

One of the Institute's recent offshoots – for which Fr. Hardon can also take partial credit – is the Conference of Major Superiors of Women Religious (CMSWR), a conservative alternative to the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, which for decades was the only official body representing American nuns. The Vatican recently accorded the CMSWR official recognition, with status equal to that of its counterpart.

Partnership With Mother Teresa

It was partly Fr. Hardon’s years of work with religious orders, partly his reputation as a master catechist, that occasioned his being called to Rome again in 1982.

Earlier the Holy Father had asked Mother Teresa to supplement her order's primary mission of serving the materially "poorest of the poor" with the further task of serving the spiritually poorest. The new initiative would require an intensive course of study for the nuns that would not only give them a comprehensive knowledge of Church teaching, but equip them to impart that knowledge to Catholics and non-Catholics worldwide. And who better to design such a course than Fr. John Hardon?

Over the next few years, in close cooperation with Mother Teresa herself, Fr. Hardon developed a four-year course of catechesis that became part of the formation of every Missionary of Charity. But both of them quickly realized that its value went far beyond the work of Mother Teresa's order, and so in 1987 he founded Inter Mirifica ( Among the Miracles, don't you love this?) , an organization dedicated to disseminating the new course and Fr. Hardon's other catechetical works more broadly".

Kerry: I think that it is not by accident that orders faithful to the teachings of the Church are the orders that now flourish with new life. And not by accident that the Missionaries of Charity live with its mark of moral force in the world. Fr. Hardon and Mother Teresa, faithful as they were, were unstoppable forces. My sense is that when women return to obedience and humility, a need for apostolic visitations will cease. Then, what is now sadly only legacy in a museum, will become life lived in loyalty, not dissent.

Vince Killoran
8 years 11 months ago
The exhibit sounds great-what a wonderful way to teach about the history and contemporary contributions of these women.  I'll be in Washington, D.C. later this month and plan to take my two children.
8 years 11 months ago
The Call of Christ the King
by Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J.

The Cost of Sharing Christ - Part One

" But the net effect of non-acceptance on the one who proclaims Christ is obvious. And this is the main theme of this evening's conference. What is the net effect of non-acceptance on the one who proclaims Christ? It is in plain English, suffering. And I mean this, it is suffering. I have met too many discouraged priests. I have spoken to too many disheartened Bishops. I have read too many statements of the late Pope Paul VI, not to know. One of my Bishop friends, after his Ad Limina visit in conversation with the late Paul VI told me the Holy Father told him, "Every night when I go to bed and lay my head on the pillow I honestly believe my head is crowned with thorns." Said the Holy Father to my Bishop friend, "What has happened to the United States? Where are the once dedicated people that created your Catholic schools? Where are your devoted religious? Where? And then the Bishop told me the Pope broke down and wept".

And, that was THEN.


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