Merry Christmas! As we celebrate the great feast of Jesus’ birth, it occurs to me that Catholic schools celebrate Christmas all year long. That’s because Catholic schools are sacred places, where education revolves around more than computers and books. At Catholic schools, education revolves around Jesus Christ, the reason for every season. At Catholic schools, we celebrate the peace, love and hope of Jesus every day.
How do we do that? Let me tell you:
Catholic schools are places of peace. With the support of their parents, our students walk the path of peace that Jesus showed us. Each day begins and ends with prayer, and each student learns how special it is to pray each day. As we take time off to celebrate Christmas, I encourage parents to keep prayer at the center of your homes each day, just as prayer is at the center of our school day. I encourage you to bring your children to Mass each Sunday, showing them the beauty of the Eucharist and the peace that flows from centering our lives on Jesus.
Catholic schools are places of love. Our students, with the support of their families, are making the world a better place. They are learning to love their neighbor as Jesus taught us. Our schools have had food drives, coat drives and collections for countries across the globe. I know of older students helping younger ones with Advent wreaths; I know of a school whose students created a “circle of love” to portray the Advent wreath; and I know of a teacher who, when she catches the children doing good deeds, has the children put straw in the manger so that, by Christmas, there is a soft bed for baby Jesus.
During this Christmas season, I pray that each of you will remember the love at the heart of it all. I encourage you to help your children see the needs around them and respond with the love of Christ.
Catholic schools are places of hope. The birth of Jesus brought hope to our world. No wonder we celebrate! Our Catholic schools bring hope to our students, our families and our world. Catholic education revolves around the truth that every child is created in the sacred image and likeness of God. When families and communities embrace the hope of Catholic education, we know that the future is bright. Jesus gives us hope, and as Catholics, we must put our faith into action and spread this message of hope in our schools, our communities and our world.
I wish all of you a very Merry Christmas, and I pray that you and your families will keep Christ in Christmas, not just on Dec. 25, but in every day, in every moment of your lives.
May you have a holy and joyous Christmas season!
Dr. Jan Daniel Lancaster is superintendent of Catholic Schools in the Archdiocese of New Orleans.