With today’s canonization of St. John XXIII and St. John Paul II, it’s an opportunity to reflect on their lives in life of Bishop Kelley High School and Catholic education. St. John XXIII was pope when Bishop Kelley High School was founded in 1960. St. John Paul II saw us through 27 years of our history (1978-2005). These two men offered much to Catholic education and also offer a tremendous example to our students, faculty, and staff today.
Among their accomplishments, both these saints gave the Church and the world many documents related to Catholic education. While proclaimed after his death, The Second Vatican Council’s “Declaration on Christian Education” or Gravissimum Educationis was begun under the pontificate of St. John XXII. You can read the document in full at the link below.
St. John Paul II, gave us the Catechism of the Catholic Church in addition to many addresses and talks on the subject of Catholic education. For a list of documents related to Catholic education, see this list compiled by Notre Dame’s Alliance for Catholic Education- http://ace.nd.edu/pea/church-documents.
The example these two offer become very clear when we look at their lives. They were, no doubt, men of tremendous prayer. Their belief in the risen Christ was at the center of all they did. But alongside their prayer, they were extremely academic. Both had multiple advanced degrees. Both worked in seminaries as professors. Both were well read and, even as pope, kept up with the latest in theological research and trends while being grounded in the Tradition of the Church. In other words, their life of faith and their academic work went hand in hand. This is what a Catholic school should be! A Catholic school should be filled with the life of faith, the Mass, Confessions, retreats, Vocational promotion and Catholic devotions for sure. But alongside these important practices there can be a rigorous academic life. The two are not mutually exclusive.
Much more can be said and most certainly Catholic schools in America have many ways to improve, but I am certain that we would not be in the strong position we’re in without the leadership of these two extraordinary popes, now saints. St. John XXIII, pray for us! St. John Paul II, pray for us!, St. John Baptist de La Salle, patron of Christian teachers, pray for us!