“What are you looking for?” These first words of Jesus in Mark’s Gospel speak directly to our hearts and to our humanity. Oftentimes, we may not even know what we’re seeking or what the desires of our hearts are. But God knows our desires, and He desires, in turn, to fulfill the deepest longings of our hearts on a path of discipleship that leads to happiness, fulfillment and freedom.
If you ask a parent who enrolls their child in a Catholic school the same question Jesus asked those first disciples, “What are you looking for?”, you might receive a wide range of responses — "a Catholic environment to learn about our faith" or "excellent academics" or "a supportive community" or "a good athletics program." Whatever the reason they might provide, they’ve initiated a relationship with the Catholic Church through our Catholic schools. This relationship provides the Church an opportunity to share the Good News of Jesus and to walk with thousands of families in our Catholic schools, inviting them to engage or more deeply engage in the sacramental life in the Church.
The last Sunday in January begins the celebration of Catholic Schools Week, a nationwide recognition of the ministry of Catholic schools and the impact they have on students and their families, the Church, and on society. Schools plan special liturgies and activities to highlight and celebrate the important and privileged place the ministry of Catholic schools holds for families and for the mission of the Church.
Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of Detroit provide an opportunity for parents who desire for their children to learn math, science, art, and literature through the lens of the Catholic faith. Our Catholic worldview drives every aspect of the school’s approach to education — from the subject matter studied and the skills developed to the encouragement for every child to live their God-given potential to the Catholic formation we offer through the daily practice of and instruction in the faith.
Our Catholic schools provide opportunities for students to be educated and formed in a Catholic environment that recognizes the inherent and inviolable dignity of each person and understands that the Lord has a call for each of them: a call of love, flourishing, and joy through discipleship of Jesus Christ.
Most importantly, our Catholic schools are tools for the Church to share Jesus with people who might have come through our doors seeking something other than Him. The ultimate answer to Jesus’ question, “What are you looking for?”, is Him. He is the fulfillment of every desire of our hearts, whether we recognize it or not. Our Catholic schools provide the daily opportunity for more than 27,000 young people and thousands of faculty and staff members to encounter the Lord and to learn and grow on their own path of discipleship.
As we celebrate Catholic Schools Week, please pray in gratitude for the priests, principals, teachers and staff members who give tirelessly of themselves in this ministry and for the many benefactors and supporters who give generously to provide this opportunity. Please pray that in response to the call of Unleash the Gospel, our schools will be Spirit-led and radically mission oriented.
Visit www.detroitcatholicschools.org to learn more about our Catholic schools or to find employment opportunities — you just might find what you’re looking for.
Laura Knaus is superintendent of Catholic schools for the Archdiocese of Detroit.