Behold, I am doing something new (Isaiah, 43-19).
We stand at the threshold of a new school year. A new year is always a grace given. Grace is God’s way of breaking in to the life of each and every one of us, and placing a new opportunity in our hands.
To receive this gift requires two attitudes: one of letting go and one of trust and hope.
We need an attitude of letting go of the old. A new year is an opportunity to see our life with a new vision, without the regrets, the unhappy memories, the unfulfilled goals of the past. God offers the grace of this blessed moment to forget the past: “Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold I am doing a new thing, now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert” (Isaiah 43:18-19).
There have been many challenges for Catholic schools in the last year. Failures, frustrations and hurts have marked our journey. Schools have closed, programs have consolidated, the landscape of Catholic education is different than a year ago. And yet, the work of Catholic education transcends these changes.
The education of each student in the light of Christ continues with reverence. Parents, principals, teachers and pastors embrace the mission of bringing up our young people with a Catholic school education of highest quality. We continue with the certainty that “in everything, God works for good with those who love him” (Romans 8:28). Every difficult situation will be transformed by God to be a blessing. This is the grace of this moment: God is making each and everyone one of us new.
Each one of us has the ability to make the most of the opportunities which God places before us.
Students, this is your year to shine in new learning and new leadership. Make the most of it. Give your best, apply yourself, and look for the ways that God invites your learning through service to others. Do not focus on the disappointments of past years, the missed grade, or the less than hoped-for experience. What will you make of this new school year?
Once we make the decision to be unburdened by former things, God promises us that we are sure to witness something creative and life-giving. There will be a “way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” There will be new blessings, new graces, new opportunities for learning.
In order to convert the new opportunity into the blessing that God intends, we need an attitude of trust and hope. We set our sights on the goodness of God and his plan for us. We do this with confidence because, as St. Paul tells us, “to the saints God has chosen to make known the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. We proclaim him.” (Colossians 1:25-28).
With the sure and certain knowledge, that each of us carries Christ within, and that through the Eucharist we have the opportunity to know and experience him, we can be sure that God is bringing us to a place of glory. We may not yet perceive it, yet we can trust that it will be.
What is God doing new with Catholic schools? There is a renewed sense of mission and ministry for those who lead and serve in our schools. Teachers, principals and staff understand more than ever the precious work they undertake and the gift that parents make when they choose a Catholic school for their children.
Parishes are working together to sponsor Catholic schools, as can be seen at All Saints Catholic, Christ the Teacher, Most Blessed Sacrament and Our Lady of Fatima schools. New programs in art, science and technology abound. Writing and reading continue to be hallmarks. Summer programs, early childhood programs and extended care opportunities are flourishing in response to family needs. High schools have diversified their course offerings and are actively preparing students for success at the university level. Teachers are pursuing advanced training.
“Behold, I am doing something new.”
The future for our schools is unfolding. In God’s time, mystery will yield to miracle. In the meantime, Catholic schools will continue to be a place where the encounter with Jesus Christ is central to the learning, the living and the hope.
Cathy Weaver is superintendent of Schools for the Catholic Diocese of Wilmington.