Since being ordained, I can say without any doubt that celebrating the baptism of a child is my favorite sacrament.
It is also the only sacrament that begins with a question. Parents are asked the name of their child and what they ask for their child. The answer to the first question obviously varies from child to child. The answer to the second question should always be the same:“baptism”.The celebrant of the sacrament goes on to say to the parents: “You have asked to have your child baptized. In doing so you are accepting the responsibility of training him (her) in the practice of the faith. It will be your duty to bring him (her) up to keep God's commandments as Christ taught us, by loving God and our neighbor.” In other words, parents are reminded of the awesome responsibility they are undertaking.
Each time a child is baptized, I am tempted to interject that “loving our neighbor” can be quite a challenge. How to love our neighbor is at the heart of the ethics and morals that parents teach their children at home and a reason why they bring them to church at a young age. As they grow older, the challenges become more complex. Many parents enroll their children in a Catholic school with the hope that the ethics and morals talked about at home and in church are reinforced in the religious school classroom.
Faith in education has long-term effects on students.
A Catholic school can help parents by integrating faith into education and academics. In a Catholic school, teachers are not only at liberty but encouraged to emphasize a faith perspective. For example, in a Civics or American Government class, students can not only learn about the First Amendment right to freedom of religion but also discuss how this has both helped and challenged the practice of faith.
A faith-based education can encourage critical thinking that not only seeks knowledge and understanding of the science that explains our world but also analyzes and questions how this knowledge could or should be used in the light of faith.
Faith in education inspires thoughtful reflection.
Faith in education encourages the development of the whole person. We need engineers who know how to build a bridge over which we drive our cars, but we need engineers who have been formed with a conscience as to whether a given bridge ought to be built and how its construction may affect various communities. This does not just happen. Year after year, the student in a faith-based school will be challenged to ask the “why” questions and not just “what, when, where, and how.” Not only will he or she be encouraged to ask “Why” but to do so from a framework of faith. The ones who can ask “why” are the ones who will be leaders.
Faith in education gives parents a sense of security.
The Catholic Rite of Baptism concludes with beautiful blessings of the mother and father. To paraphrase one of these blessings: May God bless the parents of this child. Together they will be the first teachers of their child in the ways of faith. May they be also the best of teachers, bearing witness to the faith by what they say and do, in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Parents are the first teachers, and we pray the best teachers of their children. Enrolling their sons and daughters in schools that have faith at the core of the curriculum ensures that they have the help they need to fulfill this role.
Parents who enroll their son in St. Lawrence Seminary High School can be sure that the teachers, supervisors, and friars are committed to reinforcing the promise parents made at baptism to “bear witness to the faith by what they say and do.” They help parents keep this promise every day and all day, whether in the classroom, in the dormitory, or on the playing fields.
Wherever an SLS student goes, the faith is sure to follow.