I hope all of you enjoyed these summer months and were able to find some time for rest and relaxation with your families and loved ones.

The end of summer always means the start of a new school year.

We have begun classes again at St. John’s Seminary and Queen of Angels Center of Priestly Formation.

Nearly 80,000 young people are returning to our Catholic elementary and high schools. Another 102,000 will be enrolled this year in religious education programs in our parishes.

Each of these numbers represents a child of God, a soul that our Lord entrusts to our care. And I am delighted to report that as we begin this new school year, we have a new Superintendent of Catholic Schools, Paul Escala, and a new Senior Director of the Office of Religious Education, Sister Rosalia Meza, VDMF.

I want to thank our outgoing Superintendent, Dr. Kevin Baxter, and our outgoing Religious Education Director, Father Chris Bazyouros, both of whom served the family of God here in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles with dedication and distinction.

One of my pastoral priorities is educating and forming Catholics for deeper knowledge and more intense and prayerful living of their Catholic faith. With these new appointments, we are blessed to have two of the finest Catholic educators in the Church today.

The amazing truth about our religion is that God wants us to know him — and more than that, God wants to walk with us in friendship and love.

Jesus came to show us God’s face and to reveal what the Scriptures call “the plan of the mystery hidden from ages past in God who created all things.”

And Jesus gave his Church the mission to proclaim the good news about God, to make disciples and to teach them all that he commanded. So, we can never separate the Church’s work of education from our core mission of evangelization.

Catholic education is not just about “information” — it is about “transformation.” It is not about training future workers for the job market. It is about forming personalities and communicating wisdom, bringing young people to know the God who made them and his purposes.

At its heart, that is what Catholic education is all about — knowing and loving Jesus and learning to live in his truth, which is the truth about creation and the truth about our lives.

I am praying that in this new moment, all of us — in our schools and parishes, but also in our homes and families — will discover a new urgency for the task of educating and forming our young people as Christians.

This task is the reason for our religious education programs and schools. But it is also the first duty of parents and families. Our young people long to see their parents and loved ones living their faith; they want their parents to talk to them about God, about the joys and challenges of following Jesus.

Our young people, in many ways, are “targets” in our society and culture — so many messages are aimed at them by the media, by corporations that want to sell them products and lifestyles. Sadly, most of these messages run totally contrary to the beautiful vision of life proposed to us by Jesus.

In our work of education, we need to teach our children to be critical of what is being “sold” to them by our society and culture and to not be afraid to “swim against the tide.”

As educators and formators, we also need courage to proclaim what Jesus proclaimed, with joy and confidence, knowing he gives us a sacred task of handing on to our young the truth that this world has a Creator and a Redeemer and that he has shown us the true path to happiness.

What Jesus reveals is true and beautiful. And everything we believe as Catholics is connected. Everything flows from this truth that God is our Father and the Creator of all that is, and that God has a plan for his creation.

Jesus is calling young people to open their hearts to his offer of friendship, to walk with him, and to take their place in his great plan for the redemption of the world. And he has given the family of God — all of us — the responsibility for educating and forming our young people.

Pray for me this week and I will pray for you. And let us pray for our young people and all those dedicated to teaching and forming them.

Let us ask our Blessed Mother, the Seat of Wisdom, to guide all of us in the beautiful mission of education in the faith.