By now you’ve all heard the name—Blase Cupich—and the news that he is our new Archbishop—appointed by Pope Francis last week, and that he takes charge November 18th. And, probably, you have seen bits and pieces of Archbishop Cupich’s biography, too, starting in Omaha, Nebraska; then Washington, D.C., then Rapid City, South Dakota; and most recently Spokane, Washington. And, that he is a life-long Bears fan (and, curiously, a Nebraska “Huskers” fan—whatever that is). Along with all that, you may have read that Cupich has been very much committed to Pope Francis’ agenda of concerns from long before Francis was Francis; such as social justice issues involving marginalized people, the forgotten poor, violence and war, and the political and economic structures that promote such crimes and tragedies.
What you may have missed in Archbishop Cupich’s resume is that he is chairman of the National Catholic Education Association, a voluntary professional organization representing 200,000 educators teaching in Catholic elementary and secondary schools, colleges and universities. I dug around a bit and found a letter that Cupich wrote in 2011 to the people of Spokane about Catholic schools. I like it because it clearly applies to our own community and school, as well. Here are a few excerpts:
“Why do Catholics have their own schools? Why go to all the trouble and spend all that money on something that is offered free of charge by the state?”
A high school student posed this question to me some years ago during one of my visits to his (Catholic) school. It is a good question. On the face of it, he makes a good point. The state allocates huge sums of money each year for public education and provides a solid academic program on all levels. Why should the Catholic Church bother with even trying to duplicate or compete with these efforts?
My response to him was simple: “We understand Catholic schools to be part of our mission; they have existed long before there was a public school system, and besides, we are good at it.”
[The Catholic Church] values education beyond economic gain, more than a contribution to profitability. Schools according to our rich tradition hold “in trust” all the accumulated knowledge over the centuries about how to live the life God offers us and how to promote a culture that enhances living together in society. As sacred guardians of this heritage, our schools aim at preparing our students not just for a job, but for life here on earth, and life eternal. We aim at educating the whole person, who is called to love God with “your whole heart, mind, soul, and strength and to love your neighbor as yourself.”
Even before the state took up the task of offering public education, Religious orders in a male dominated society promoted education for girls and woman, the poor and underprivileged.
Catholic schools maintain across the board very high standards, and do so at the fraction of the costs when compared to other school systems. Much of this lower cost is due to the generosity and sacrifice of our teachers and staff. We should never overlook that each year these fine women and men contribute to the education of our children by accepting lower salaries and taking on many added duties.
…our Catholic Schools are a shared resource from which we all benefit, as they hold “in trust” a long and proud tradition of teaching which reaches back to Christ’s commission to the apostles, “go, teach all nations.”
So far, I like what I’m seeing of our new Archbishop (probably because he agrees with me… so far).
Pray for him and for the guy who appointed him. They’ve both got seriously big jobs.
P.S. Remember—next weekend is FRIENDS OF THE CRAFT and FRIENDS OF THE GRAPE which are key supporters of our school and parish – and they’re a whole lot of fun, besides.