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Archbishop: Catholic schools exist to evangelize children

Archbishop Samuel Aquila celebrated Mass with the principals of the diocese’s Catholic schools on Aug. 11, the feast of St. Claire. The Mass was held at Christ the King chapel at St. John Vianney Theological Seminary.In his homily, the archbishop stressed that the purpose of a Catholic school is to create well-formed Christians.

“This is why Catholic schools exist: to share Jesus Christ, so that children may have an encounter with him,” the archbishop said.

However, in order to bring Christ to children, the archbishop reminded the principals that they, too, must have a relationship with Christ. He especially recommended a devotion to the Eucharist. He asked the principals to meditate on John 6, the passage in which Jesus explains he will become the Eucharist, before the children came back to school.

“If we don’t remember the truth, we will never pass it on to our children,” the archbishop said.

He also said that the principals must be grounded in an understanding of the true Christ, found in the Eucharist, and not a god of ideological fads or convenience. He cited the many cultural wars and battles taking place throughout the world, and the children and adults being martyred in the Middle East. He reminded the principals that all Christians are called to have such faith. However, he encouraged them to look to the day’s first reading for inspiration.

“We hear of that [confidence in Jesus] in the first reading from the book of Deuteronomy, in which Moses is praying and giving his farewell to the people. And he reminds the people, and reminds Joshua, ‘Be brave and steadfast, have no fear or dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who marches with you. He will never fail you or forsake you.’ And my sisters and brothers, we have Jesus Christ, who is with us. And we, too, are called to proclaim that truth. We, too, are called to be those who give witness to that truth,” he said. “It is essential that we are clear in who we are calling people to.”

This Jesus is not a soft Jesus or a cheap grace, he said, but a crucified grace.

“It is a costly grace, and that costly grace is the cross. It is rooted in love, it rooted in charity, it is rooted in mercy, and it is rooted in truth. It is important for us, in the relativism that we live in today, to be those who proclaim truth and charity,” he said.

He said the best way to proclaim this truth and charity is to receive them like a child. He cited several passages in the Bible in which Jesus does not reward those who seem mature in their faith, but instead tells his followers to be humble and childlike. Christ also admonished his followers to never despise a child, because their guardian angels continually look upon the face of God.

“It is important for you as principals to communicate that love to the children who are entrusted to your care. That as you care for them, they experience the love of their heavenly father,” he said.

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