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 | By Father Andy Laframboise

The Joy of a Catholic School

Our diocese is in the midst of an initiative to strengthen Catholic schools. The theme for the schools is Centered in Christ, Committed to Excellence. I am pastor of St. Frances Cabrini in Vassar and St. Elizabeth of Hungary in Reese, which has a school educating children in preschool through eighth grade. I’d like to share three joys I have in being pastor of a Catholic school.


First, the joy of prayer.

I love offering Mass for the students, blessing their sacramentals or joining them in prayer. I find myself preaching to these children like I would talk to my many nieces and nephews. It is a joy offering Mass with young people. It makes me feel younger, and it reminds me that priests are true fathers, seeking to impart spiritual life in the people of God.

Second, the joy of learning.

I love teaching simple things about the faith to the kids. I talked about the Mass to our sacramental preparation children, and a few days later asked if anyone could remember what the word is when the priest puts his hands over the offerings just before the consecration invoking the Holy Spirit. My face lit up when one of the kids said, “epiclesis.”

There is joy in the wonder of learning. Catholic schools enable that spirit of wonder to take place in all subjects, but in a privileged way when it comes to the faith. Our faith is a treasure, but it is buried for many people. The role of a teacher is to help bring the treasure out so that students can be amazed at it. In Catechesi Tradendae, On Catechesis in Our Time, St. John Paul II said, “The blossoms, if we may call them that, of faith and piety do not grow in the desert places of memory-less catechesis” (55). Catholic school students are blessed to have time and space to learn so that their faith can blossom.

Third, the joy of play.

I love playing and watching sports. Whenever I spend a few minutes at recess playing with the children I feel like I am being renewed by the Lord. Throwing the football around reminds me that I am a child of God. I need to be sure I have play in my life, because the Lord loves to watch his children at play. Every father knows that he cannot be so overwhelmed with work or providing for his family that he neglects to play with them too.

It is all about Jesus. Seeing a child’s love for the Eucharist or for prayer, seeing the smile of a child who gets a question right or the joy of children playing on the playground is a reminder that God has blessed us with a beautiful life. When you are around children, things which seemed difficult suddenly are seen in a proper perspective. Children remind us that no matter how old we are, we are God’s children.

The secret to holiness is to get younger and younger as we get older and older. In other words, the secret is to grow in our wonder, excitement and absolute dependence and trust on God. We can never do better than Jesus, and Jesus rejoices to receive all from the Father. Thanks to all of you principals, teachers, parents and volunteers who help our Catholic schools continue their mission. God bless you all.

Father Andy Laframboise is pastor of St. Elizabeth of Hungary Parish in Reese and St. Frances Xavier Cabrini Parish in Vassar, and director of priestly vocations. He holds a licentiate in Sacred Theology in Marriage and Family Studies from the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family.