The value of Catholic education

By Tim Lilley

Friends, every year around this time we get a subtle-but-significant reminder of Catholic education’s value. It’s subtle because folks don’t really tout or otherwise dwell on it. But if you take the time to do some quick math, you certainly will discover that reminder’s significance.

Our four Catholic high schools’ collective Class of 2019 earned an average of more than $63,800 in scholarship offers. At Washington Catholic High School, the Class of 2019’s 20 graduates earned an average of $105,000 in scholarship offers!

All of our 325 graduates from Mater Dei, Reitz Memorial, Rivet and Washington Catholic deserve our congratulations and admiration. Their parents also deserve them . . . and their teachers.

That being said, this column really isn’t about those numbers — it’s about everything that contributed to our graduates’ collective recognition through all of those offers.

At the top of my list of “everything” is faith — theirs, their families’ and that of their teachers and coaches.

Our students worked hard in the classroom. They had their families’ support every step of the way, and they benefitted from outstanding teachers.

Some succeeded in athletics. They, too, had their families’ support — and the benefit of outstanding coaches.

From here, all of these elements spring from the recognition of and appreciation for the many different ways that God blesses each of us. It seems to me that those who excel in academics or athletics, or both, do so because they recognize God’s blessings in their lives and they give Him thanks by working to be who and what He intends.

We often hear words like discipline and integrity applied to those whose accomplishments earn a significant financial reward through scholarship offers. It occurs to me that in many, if not most, cases, the young adults aren’t consciously aware of the discipline and integrity others see in them.

I suspect they “just know” what they need to accomplish and how they should go about getting there, and they “just know” because of the Holy Spirit and the ever-presence of their Guardian Angels.

They “just know” because their Catholic education has provided regular opportunities to learn about and explore their faith and their individual paths to salvation. David Memmer, principal of Annunciation School’s Holy Spirit Campus, summed it up perfectly during the May 29 Leader in Me Celebration. He talked about “developing leaders who are Saints.” Amen.

Therein rests Catholic education’s true value. The scholarship offers arrived because of it. Their futures undoubtedly will be full of success because of it. And those who follow them in our high schools will achieve as much — or more — because of it.

Congratulations Class of 2019. Thank you to the graduates’ parents and grandparents — their entire families. Thank you to their teachers and coaches. Most importantly, thank You, Lord, for all You have done and will do for them.