| By Most Reverend Steven J. Raica

Taking a Risk to Make a Difference

Dear Friends,

My own personal educational journey was a mixed one between Catholic and public education. It was a blend of Catholic elementary school and public high school, as there was no Catholic high school in my town at the time. After public university, I entered Catholic seminary and pursued post-graduate studies. Dominican sisters taught in our Catholic elementary school. Diocesan priests taught in the seminary. My post-graduate studies came through the direction of the Jesuits in Rome. Each school contributed to my formation to become the person I am today. What a blessing to have experienced a wide range of educational styles, even within Catholic school!

Today, our Catholic schools and programs make a difference every day. I am impressed by the quality and excellence of our schools to prepare faith-filled citizens and disciples for tomorrow’s society. Three words encapsulate Catholic schools today: faith, excellence, service. Allow me a few brief words about each:


Our Catholic faith engages in the formation of an individual person in every aspect. Above all, it is recognized that each person is a child of God whose life has purpose and meaning. Every child, indeed, every person, has an ultimate end or destiny. For us, it is to be united in the joyful union with Christ in Heaven. Every student comes with gifts and talents that must be refined to reach full potential. Each person also comes with a wonder about what is around them — to know and understand our world, how it came to be, how we respect and protect our common home, and how we can grow to be full members of Church and society. For our Catholic faith, our lives are centered on the promise of Jesus Christ, our Savior. He came to redeem us, and promised He would accompany us through life to our ultimate end.


To “be all that you can be,” the old motto of the U.S. Army, may seem obvious, but a Catholic education puts its hope that every student is unique and has a gift to give back to family, community, and society as a whole. How can we become the best of ourselves — in mind, body, and spirit? The Catholic school team of faculty, staff, priests, and religious, along with an essential partnership with parents, help to guide the process by being examples and witnesses themselves of what God can do in their lives. That excellence is designed to “exceed expectations” and not settle for anything less. Our students become equipped to be the best they can be.


The final part of the educational formation program is one of service. We don’t educate ourselves for ourselves. We become Christian disciples and witnesses of our faith to others we encounter along the way. How do we utilize what we’ve learned to share with those who may be disadvantaged or less fortunate? How do we reach out to a wider community? Seeing each other as part of the human family — our brothers and sisters — with a common origin and a common destiny informs and inspires our service. Through our gestures, both large and small, we share hope and optimism. Each person through their service contributes to the building up of a society that is more equitable and more just.

Our Catholic schools take a risk that students can and will succeed on the journey to true freedom. We take a risk by forming them in the rich tradition of our faith in Jesus Christ and by preparing them to be productive citizens in society and Church. We take a risk by investing and sacrificing for them. Heartfelt thanks go to the many benefactors who generously contribute their time, talent, and treasure to ensure our students have the best shot at success. This success is more than fame and fortune, it is the fulfillment of God’s dream for each of them regardless of one’s life path. As Robert Frost’s famous poem “The Road not Taken” concludes: “And I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.”