The Catholic Church has a beautiful vision for the world. It’s the vision that Jesus Christ revealed, the vision of the world as God created it to be. The world as it will be one day.
The heart of that vision is the reality that every human person is sacred — created in God’s image, redeemed by Jesus Christ in his plan of love, and destined for the greater things of God’s kingdom.
Our parishes, charities, ministries and schools are guided by that vision. In our own different ways, we are all working for a Los Angeles that truly reflects and serves the dignity of the human person.
This month, I was honored to be asked to address two of our civic organizations, Town Hall L.A. and the LA5 Rotary Club. I came away from these conversations realizing that many of our neighbors still don’t know all the good works that the Church does in our communities.
One of the great contributions we make is through our Catholic schools. As many of you know, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles operates one of the largest school systems in the state, serving about 80,000 students.
More than one-third of our students come from families living below the poverty line, and quite a few of them are not Catholic. But we serve every one through your generous sacrifices and the kindness of donors to our Catholic Education Foundation and Together in Mission programs.
Our schools are growing. We are blessed to have good leadership and strong commitments from our parishes, foundations and other partners. We have exciting plans for growth and innovation.
Catholic schools are the center of our Catholic vision for Los Angeles. Together we are forming the future leaders in our Church and in our society and culture.
Our Catholic schools are communities of learning — serving our families and committed to excellence in the pursuit of knowledge and virtue. Study and human formation go together in our Catholic schools. We are educating the “whole” person.
That means we are not only teaching our children “information” that will help them get into college or the job market. We are doing that very well. Our graduation rates and college entrance rates are amazing. But we are giving our students something more valuable. We are teaching them how to live, how to choose the right paths, and how to become the men and women that God intends them to be.
Every school aims to make students smarter, to help them grow in knowledge. But more than knowledge, we want to help our young people grow in wisdom.
We realize that our nation is in a time of change — economic, cultural and social. So we are training students who will be ready to solve problems and meet the challenges of what some are calling “the next America.”
We want our students to be truly “Catholic” — open to the beauty and goodness of God’s creation; concerned for the needs of others; and passionate about seeking what is true and doing what is right.
Our Catholic schools understand that God gives each person a “calling” in life. We want our students to be ready to respond to whatever God is asking them to do in this world.
That’s why prayer and liturgy are essential to the life of our schools. Our young people need to feel the presence of Jesus in their lives. They need to know that he is near. That he is our Friend and our Brother on the pathways of our everyday life.
Through the natural rhythms of prayer that make up the Catholic school day, we’re teaching our students how to listen for God’s voice, and how to see the signs that he is working in our world and in our lives.
It all goes back to that Catholic vision. We are preparing young men and women for lives of love and service guided by that vision.
And as I think about our future, I’m excited and optimistic!
So as we celebrate Catholic Schools Week, Jan. 26-Feb. 1, let’s pray for all the young people in our Catholic schools. May they grow ever closer to Jesus and his Church. Let’s pray for all the benefactors of our schools and all our teachers and administrators.
And let us ask Our Blessed Mother, the Seat of Wisdom, to pray for us. That our Church, as the family of God, may continue to accompany our young people, passing on the beautiful truths and values of our faith, and inspiring new generations to use their knowledge and skills to serve God and to serve others.
Archbishop Gomez’s book, “Immigration and the Next America,” is available at the Cathedral Gift Shop (www.olacathedralgifts.com/immigrationandthenextamericarenewingthesoulofournation.aspx). Follow him at www.facebook.com/ArchbishopGomez.