.- A vocation to work in Catholic education is “a noble mission, a holy mission,” Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades told more than 300 participants and staff in Notre Dame’s Alliance for Catholic Education (ACE) during a grotto prayer gathering at the University of Notre Dame on the evening of Thursday, July 22.
Participants in the ACE formation programs for teachers and principals, preparing to fan out to serve in Catholic schools around the country, assembled for two traditional culmination ceremonies, along with parents and various members of Notre Dame’s growing ACE community.
The grotto service was followed the next morning by a missioning Mass celebrated in the Basilica of the Sacred Heart by Bishop Thomas J. Curry, auxiliary bishop of Los Angeles and a leader in Catholic elementary and secondary schooling.
Bishop Curry, who chairs the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) Committee on Catholic Education, addressed those awaiting the challenges and rewards of working in hardpressed schools. They are “beacons of hope,” he told them, “because you are beacons of faith and beacons of learning.”
“You are in the forefront of the movement for reform, for change, and for excellence in education,” said Bishop Curry in praising the ACE program, which began in 1993. He noted that Catholic schools have historically brought hope and education to the children of immigrants and continue to confront America’s dominant culture with “a different model” of education.
Bishop Rhoades, in his separate remarks amid the glimmering candles and chirping crickets around the grotto, described Catholic education as a service to the Church that promotes “the increase of the kingdom of God in the world.” He praised the ACE participants and described the difference they make: “You recognize the mind, body and spirit” of children in Catholic schools.
He called on those in the ACE academic courses to pray regularly as they undertake their apprenticeships in schools and classrooms.
Seek the intercession of the Blessed Mother, who teaches us, he said. “Mary accompanies you on your mission.”
Printed with permission from Today's Catholic, newspaper for the Diocese of Fort Wayne – South Bend, Indiana.