Editor’s note: Franciscan Sister of St. Joseph Andrea Ciszewski, superintendent of Catholic Schools for the Diocese of Springfield, gave a special message on “Chalice of Salvation” on Jan. 31. The following are her remarks.
I am most grateful for this opportunity to speak with you about the ministry of Catholic school education which has existed in the Diocese of Springfield since 1867. Since that time the message of the Gospel and the basic tenets of our Catholic Faith have been taught to many generations and thousands of graduates Undoubtedly, many of you who view this program, along with your children, relatives and neighbors have reaped the benefit of the investment by parishes, parents, members of religious congregations and lay teachers and staff members. Throughout most of those years, you may have also experienced a steadfast and active practice of faith in your family and neighborhood as well as among those with whom you played or worked. Sacramentals such as Crucifixes, medals, Family Bibles, Blessed candles and Rosaries, were hallmarks in each Catholic home. Weekly attendance at Mass as well as feast days formerly celebrated in native homelands, provided strength for family and community living. Common ‘Church’ songs which taught some theological truth were sung or hummed in homes and gatherings, Sodalities, church organizations and retreats provided opportunities to practice faith with people who knew one another.
As time progressed, those common threads disappeared in great measure. Adult and faith formation classes developed and, more than ever, we realized that the Holy Spirit worked within each of us and that we were not to confine the treasure of our Faith to our personal life, but rather, share that reality within the daily encounters and activities of each of our lives.
We recall the Gospel story of how Jesus was displeased with the disciples who tried to keep children away from Him. Jesus knew how it was important to instruct the young and to ensure practice of their instruction. He personally modeled personal prayer, the study of Scripture and common worship.
You and I live in a time and space of constant and instant messages. We are often overpowered by messages that challenge, clash with, or seek to eradicate our basic Catholic teachings. How much more do our youth need teaching and guidance to assist them discern what is true, right and just.
Within an environment wherein Christian signs and symbols are prominently displayed, our Catholic school students begin and end their day with prayer, experience the integration of Gospel values throughout their studies, attend scheduled Masses and liturgical services, and participate in community and mission outreach programs.
Administrators, faculty and staff members teach and model Gospel values and Church tenets within a quality 21st century academic program with the goals of forming individuals who will reap the dividends of strong Christian vocations and strong Christian leadership in homes, at work and in communities.
I know that each of you who faithfully watch the Chalice of Salvation treasure your friendship with Jesus. We ask that the Holy Spirit inspire you to assist us with this ministry by becoming a partner with us in your prayers and promoting Catholic school education. Your investments- spiritual and/or financial will definitely reap benefits that no other investment can because the tenets of Catholic education address this life and eternity. Should you wish to donate to financial assistance for families struggling to with tuition costs, you may contact us through the diocesan website or call the Catholic Schools office at 452-0850.
In the name of our students, administrators, faculties and staff members, I extend gratitude to Bishop Timothy A. McDonnell, pastors, parishes, board members, benefactors, parents and you for trust and support. I likewise thank the Catholic Communications staff for their faithfulness to reporting our school endeavors.
Together with you, I offer this prayer,
Be with us always, Lord, so that we may make disciples whose holiness will be worthy of your house.