Imagine rolling a pair of dice. You have the greatest probability of rolling the number seven. It has more combinations than any other number. (Actually, six sets of combinations total seven.) Perhaps for this reason the number seven has been called “Lucky seven.”
For us, as Catholics, the number seven carries significance beyond simply being “lucky.” In the Old Testament, the number seven reflects completion, as in the six days of creation and the seventh day on which God rested when all was created. In the New Testament, the number seven points to fulfillment, as in five loaves and two fish reported in the
Gospels which miraculously provided abundant food for the many followers of Jesus in a barren place. In our moral living, the number seven represents wholeness, as in the sum of the three theological virtues (faith, hope, and love) and the four cardinal virtues (prudence, temperance, justice, and courage). In our Catholic faith, the number seven counts the number of Sacraments, intercessions in the Our Father, works of mercy, principles of Catholic social teaching, and more.
This academic year Catholic schools look forward to rolling a seven in meeting the five goals of a quality, Catholic education. Schools in the Diocese of Wilmington anticipate rolling – believe, learn, serve, lead, and succeed – into a seven for every student.
In Catholic schools, students are strengthened to believe through information (knowledge), formation (practice), and transformation (change). Believe is the heart of Catholic school education for only in a Catholic school can students encounter the full-day integration of prayer, doctrine, and values across all subjects and through all experiences.
Students learn much and in a variety of ways in Catholic schools. A strong curriculum supported by differentiated instruction is a recipe for student achievement. In Catholic schools students serve through numerous opportunities – in person, through collections, by virtual connections. When students serve, they come to know they are People of God and People for Others. Helping students to lead teaches them that each person possesses the responsibility to live as a Catholic in the family, school, parish, community, and world. Catholic school students transform their environment through leadership roles.
Lastly, Catholic schools succeed. In looking at the ACRE assessment (Assessment of Children/Youth Religious Education), students in the Diocese of Wilmington score above their counterparts in the nation in knowledge of the faith. In standardized assessments, our Catholic high school students score above the state (Delaware and Maryland) and national averages in SAT results and, at the elementary level, students perform in the above-average range in reading and math measures. Catholic school students have been recognized for their service by Jefferson Awards, at Blue Gold events, Ronald McDonald houses, hospitals, hospices, schools and villages in foreign lands, and neighbors down their streets. Catholic school students succeed in all the ways that matter.
Catholic schools offer solid and engaging education rooted in faith. Their continuation is vital in our overwhelmed and anxious society. You can be a part of this mission through your prayers each day, through your presence at school events or as a volunteer, and through the financial support of your parish and the annual Share in the Spirit tuition assistance collection in September. All of us need Catholic school education and Catholic schools need all of us. Join Catholic schools in rolling a seven this year.
Louis De Angelo, Ph.D., is superintendent of the Diocese of Wilmington Catholic Schools.