Catholic Schools Week
Catholic Schools: Learn. Serve. Lead. Succeed.
It is with joy, enthusiasm, and purpose-driven mission, that I invite you to celebrate National Catholic Schools Week from January 26, 2020 through February 1, 2020. Together, we recognize the extraordinary contribution that our Catholic schools across Long Island make by forming young missionary disciples on fire with love for our Lord Jesus and the mission of the Catholic Church.
At the same time, we recognize our collective responsibility towards the future of Catholic education in our Diocese. Enrollment and investment in our Catholic schools depends on the leadership of each individual Catholic. Our willingness to witness to the transformative and destiny-changing experience of Catholic education to the families we meet makes all the difference.
Pope Saint John Paul II once said: "In order that the Catholic school and the Catholic teacher may truly make their irreplaceable contribution to the Church and to the world, the goal of Catholic education itself must be crystal clear. Catholic education is above all a question of communicating Christ, of helping to form Christ in the lives of others".
In Catholic Schools Week 2020, our Catholic schools recommit themselves to helping parents and extended families form successful, servant leaders who help drive dramatic missionary growth on Long Island and beyond.
Be assured of my prayers for our shared mission and gratitude for your efforts.
Sincerely in Christ,
John O. Barres
To the People of God of the Diocese of Rockville Centre:
In his December 1, 2019 Apostolic Letter Admirabile Signum: On the Meaning and Importance of the Nativity Scene, Our Holy Father Pope Francis writes:
"The nativity scene is like a living Gospel rising up from the pages of sacred Scripture...I wish to encourage the beautiful family tradition of preparing the nativity scene in the days before Christmas, but also the custom of setting it up in the workplace, in schools, hospitals, prisons and town squares.
Great imagination and creativity is always shown in employing the most diverse materials to create small masterpieces of beauty. As children, we learn from our parents and grandparents to carry on this joyful tradition, which encapsulates a wealth of popular piety. It is my hope that this custom will never be lost and that, wherever it has fallen into disuse, it can be discovered and revived."
The Holy Father captures so poignantly how we creatively share our Catholic faith generation to generation through the Nativity sets and creches that bring Christ's light and love into our homes, our parishes and our public squares. He also captures how the poor, the outcast, the ignored, the forgotten and the vulnerable have a privileged place in every Nativity scene: "The presence of the poor and the lowly in the nativity scene remind us that God became man for the sake of those who feel most in need of his love and who ask him to draw near to them. Jesus, 'gentle and humble in heart' (Mt 11:29), was born in poverty and led a simple life in order to teach us to recognize what is essential and to act accordingly. The nativity scene clearly teaches that we cannot let ourselves be fooled by wealth and fleeting promises of happiness. We see Herod's palace in the background, closed and deaf to the tidings of joy. By being born in a manger, God himself launches the only true revolution that can give hope and dignity to the disinherited and the outcast: the revolution of love, the revolution of tenderness. From the manger, Jesus proclaims, in a meek yet powerful way, the need for sharing with the poor as the path to a more human and fraternal world in which no one is excluded or marginalized."
As we celebrate the joy of Christmas and the power and presence of the Prince of Peace in our families, in the Church and in the World, we realize at the same time that the Christmas Crib can never be separated from the agony of Calvary's Cross.
Even as we rejoice this Christmas of 2019, we remember and stand with the poor, the hungry, the addicted, the mentally ill, the global refugees and non-documented immigrants, and survivors of sexual abuse.
As we pray before the Christmas manger and see the beauty, the hope, the possibility in the birth of Jesus, we are compelled to remember that far too many children do not receive the welcome and joy they deserve for the miracle of their existence.
We cannot forget this Christmas season the great sadness that New York State, through the passage of the horrific Reproductive Health Act', has enshrined into law the killing of innocent human beings through abortion up until the moment of actual birth and beyond, as this radical law permits the killing of those children who survive abortion.
Together, we invoke the power of the Prince of Peace and His compassionate Word found in the Beatitudes and in His call to serve the poor and the most vulnerable among us in Matthew 25. Our Lord gives us the courage and the voice as the Catholic Church in New York State and around the world to speak of the beauty, the sanctity and the dignity of every human life.
We will continue to be "a sign of contradiction" by witnessing relentlessly and courageously to the Gospel of Human Life. As is said in the first words of the Didache, the earliest known non-Scriptural Christian writing: -There are two Ways, one of Life and one of Death...- We will always stand with our earliest ancestors in the Christian faith in favor of the Way of Life and opposed to the Way of Death.
We will continue to seek the intercession of St. Thomas More, patron of statesmen, politicians and lawyers for the conversion of the public servants who have supported this tragic legislation.
The Cistercian biblical scholar Father Simeon writes: "The Child, while present only in Bethlehem by his poverty and weakness, is already present in the pattern of the constellations by his splendor and his glory.-2
May our praise and glory of the Prince of Peace fill our hearts and homes and give us the courage and prayerful determination to bring the Joy of the Gospel and the Splendor of Truth to every public square in New York State and throughout the world.
Sincerely in Christ,
Most Reverend John O. Barres
Bishop of Rockville Centre
One way to fulfill this call is by supporting the Catholic Ministries Appeal. Your gifts fund a wide variety of ministries that serve Long Island in ways that no parish could accomplish alone. Side by side, joining together as community, we are growing in holiness.