Visiting a local ice cream parlor recently, it was impossible to miss the many and varied combinations enjoyed by customers. While a few people had single cones with one flavor of ice cream, most ice cream lovers had a wide range of flavors, toppings, sauces, etc. Certainly all the customers in the shop liked ice cream, but they enjoyed it each in a particular way designed by its purchaser and the variety enhanced both the visual experience and, quite certainly, the taste experience.
Saint Paul had a similar idea in describing the Church. He wrote in his letter to the Corinthians, “As a body is one though it has many parts, and all the parts of the body, though many, are one body, so also Christ (1 Cor 12).” It is the distinctiveness of each member of the Body of Christ offered freely that contributes to the overall gift of the Church.
The theme for Catholic education and for Catholic Charities in 2022-2023 is rooted in the message to the Corinthians – One Body in Christ. In education and charitable works, Catholic schools and agencies will focus not only on the ways that each person contributes to the overall work of the Church in forming the Body of Christ, but also that without any one member the Body of Christ would be incomplete.
Throughout the 2022-2023 school year, students and teachers will study how each person is essential in the Body of Christ. The seven principles of Catholic Social Teaching will form the bedrock of this study, with one principle examined each month through Scripture, prayer, reflection video, and social action.
As the 8500+ student members and the 800+ staff members of the Body of Christ enter school doors this year, they will find an emphasis on looking forward to what lies ahead. The last two and one-third years have operated under the shadow of the pandemic and its effects. This year, students and staff will be called to look to the future and not the past. While precautions for good health are always in effect, goals for this year will seek to encourage students to communicate in social situations both personally and professionally. Simple courtesies along with the ability to discuss opposing viewpoints and everything in between will be a focus. Listening skills as well as speaking skills will be emphasized.
Students will also be encouraged to think deeply, to solve real-world problems, to use what they know to create new ideas, programs, or projects, and to balance social media in their lives. These skills will not replace Religion, reading, writing, and arithmetic, but they will certainly expand the core subjects in new and different ways.
Most especially, the new school year will call students and educators back to their primary mission – to be Christ for others. To serve others is the intended outcome of Catholic education where disciples seek to imitate the Master. Many of the in-person service activities placed on hold the past two years will again be possible, along with new ones.
Readers are asked to join Catholic schools as members of the One Body in Christ. Look for ways to learn about, support, and connect with a Catholic school through articles in The Dialog, in parish bulletins, and on school websites. And while you think about the gift you can offer to a Catholic school community, enjoy some ice cream.