Catholic schools are an essential part of the life of the Diocese of Austin and will continue to be because they are at the heart of the mission of the Church. During his trip to the U.S. in 2008, Pope Benedict XVI said, “Education is integral to the mission of the Church to proclaim the Good News. First and foremost every Catholic educational institution is a place to encounter the living God who in Jesus Christ reveals his transforming love and truth.”
Catholic schools provide our youth and our young people with a solid Catholic identity. Our young people begin to understand and discover what it means to be Catholic. That is the greatest gift Catholic education gives. Not only do our Catholic schools provide excellent education and academic foundation so that young people will then have opportunities to find good jobs and good careers, but also they form the student’s mind, heart and spirit. Some young people who attend our schools aren’t Catholic; their parents send them to Catholic schools because they know they will receive a solid education and strong values.
We have to be very mindful of the availability and affordability of our Catholic schools, which is going to require a great deal of thinking and planning. I am very grateful to our Catholic Schools Office, our Superintendent, Dr. Ned Vanders, and all of those who work with him to implement the Catholic Schools Strategic Plan. The components of availability and affordability are built into the plan. We want to be able to do as much as possible to make sure that families in our diocese who wish to send their children to Catholic schools will be able to do so.
My prayer is that Catholic education will continue to be valued and promoted throughout Central Texas. I pray that we will be able to strengthen our current Catholic schools, and that we will work to make Catholic schools more available and affordable. Especially, I pray that families who are challenged economically have the opportunity to send their children to receive a Catholic education.