By Christopher Mominey
Sun Contributing Writer
One summer evening during a violent thunderstorm a mother was tucking her son into bed. She was about to turn off the light when he asked with a tremor in his voice, “Mommy, will you sleep in my room tonight?” The mother smiled and gave him a reassuring hug. “I can’t dear,” she said. “I have to sleep in Daddy’s room.” A long silence was broken at last by his shaky little voice: “The big sissy!”
I became a parent for the first time on December 31st, 2001 and then again on August 29th, 2003 and then with twins on April 11, 2006. With that in mind I can easily relate to this funny little anecdote. Yet at each of these blessed moments in my life I paused to reflect on the awesome task of raising a child. I must admit I also couldn’t resist thinking about the awesome costs of raising a child. However where these two thoughts converge is in the area of education; specifically, Catholic education. Parents in our schools make an important financial decision when they choose to send their children to our schools. And while our schools will offer well over $1 million in financial assistance to our families this coming year, this does not diminish the sacrifices that have to be made in order for our young people to attend these outstanding schools. That is why I recognize, as the new superintendent, that parents are so important to the success of all that we do.
Parents are the first educators of their children. What we do in a school is to build on the foundation of that education as we encourage children to grow intellectually, socially, emotionally and spiritually. As a result, we expect that parents continue to support their children in this process. They often do this by assisting their children with homework, supporting their children in extra-curricular events and encouraging them in their relationships with others. Moreover, our parents make a commitment to nourish the spiritual dimension of their children’s growth by assuring that what we accomplish in our schools for seven hours out of a day is reiterated at home. Religious instruction in our schools is only valuable when our students have a time and a place to live out their religion. The teaching of Gospel values is only understood when our students have the opportunity to serve in the community, attend worship services on the weekend and witness positive behavior in their homes and in their neighborhoods. So when parents choose a Catholic education they are choosing more than a school. They are choosing a way of life for their children and their family and they are making a commitment to raise their children in homes that reinforce the lessons that are taught at school.
We are most grateful to parents who make these choices every single day. The financial burden can not be underestimated. Yet the real value of a Catholic education does not lay only the amount of money spent. Instead, the value of a Catholic education is measured in the character of the children that we have educated together. Some say teaching is a thankless job. Others say parenting is a thankless job. In my seven years as a parent and in my three decades of experience in Catholic schools I have come to realize that both statements are false. Neither are jobs. They are vocations to which we have been called. As the leader of this seven county school system it is a pleasure to share a vocation with the many moms and dads in our community who make the choice to send their children our way. While we as schools expect much of our young people and of their families, we are confident that the end result is young women and men who exhibit academic achievement and spiritual growth so as to become active participants in building the Kingdom of God.