National Catholic Schools Week this year runs from January 26 through February 1. The Church treasures the work of education because in developing the mind, the human person grows – or should grow — in his or her ability to understand the world, to know truth, to seek God and to serve others. A real education, a great education, feeds the soul as well as the mind; it transmits moral character as well as facts. It reminds us that we’re more than animal carbon and chemical processes. It ennobles us by opening our hearts to beauties and dignity beyond our own appetites. It helps us to see in ourselves and others the high possibilities that God created us for, and calls us to.
That’s why Catholic education matters. America’s Catholic schools began here in our city, and we can rightly take pride in the wonderful reputation of Catholic schools in the Greater Philadelphia region. Our schools – one of the largest and best Catholic systems in the nation — enrich not just the life of Catholics, but of the much wider community. And so we owe our Catholic school teachers, our staffers, our volunteers and administrators, a very big debt of gratitude and our wholehearted support.
At the same time, Catholic schools are only a first step. They’re a foundation for mature Christian discipleship, but not the whole building. Our own adult education in the faith should continue throughout our lives. Too many Catholics – good, intelligent, successful people in so many ways – have a faith that stopped growing and deepening the day after Confirmation. A life in the company of Jesus Christ asks much more from us. Especially now. We live at a time when understanding the culture around us from a mature Catholic perspective is not a luxury — it’s a necessity.
This is why I strongly support the annual “Archbishop’s Lecture Series” co-sponsored by our Office for the New Evangelization and my own office as Archbishop. We all need to learn more about our faith, and this series, designed not just for scholars but for interested adult Catholic men and women from every walk of life, is the ideal place to start.
In just a few days – on Tuesday, February 4, at 7 p.m. – our 2014 lecture series will begin with a special speaker and topic. Mary Eberstadt is a Senior Fellow with the Ethics and Public Policy Center and a Research Fellow with the Hoover Institution. She’s written extensively on marriage, sexuality, parenting, the effects of pornography, the social consequences of mass daycare, and related issues. Her latest book, How the West Really Lost God: A New Theory of Secularization, examines the intense pressures facing the modern family and their impact on religious faith and the moral direction of the world around us.
With the World Meeting of Families and a possible papal visit to Philadelphia only 20 months away, Ms. Eberstadt’s book and her February 4 talk are too important to miss. Please make every effort to be there and join in the discussion.
St. Charles Borromeo Seminary will host the lecture series in its Vianney Hall Auditorium, 100 East Wynnewood Road, Wynnewood. The cost is a modest $5. Questions about the series can be directed to Ms. Meghan Cokeley, director of our Office for the New Evangelization, at 215-587-5630.
I’ll be there Tuesday evening, and I hope to see you as well.
Editor’s Notes: To learn more about the 2014 Archbishop’s Lecture Series or to RSVP, please visit www.phillyevang.org/lectures.
Columns will be published each week on www.CatholicPhilly.com and can also be found at http://archphila.org/archbishop-chaput/statements/statements.php.
Kenneth A. Gavin
Director of Communications