We just completed our annual celebration of Catholic Schools Week. We are blessed to have a school that has been in continuous operation for over 71 years. The pastor who first started the school in 1945, Fr. Bernard Gordon, intended for the school to educate the children of the parishioners who sought a Catholic education for their children. He did not want the school to be an elite institution, or an “Academy” as we would say, so the school was, and still is, a ministry of the overall Parish of Mt. Carmel which is a way of reminding all of us that the education of our children is the responsibility of everyone.
The Mission Statement of our School reads as follows:
The role of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel School is to provide a holistic Catholic Christian environment that serves the soul, mind and body of each child. Within this environment, religious traditions are celebrated, intellectual skills are developed, critical thinking is encouraged, and students are prepared to live in and to make a vital contribution to a changing society.
The goals of our school are spiritual, academic, personal, social, physical, and aesthetic so that we can help a child build a foundation that develops their human, spiritual, intellectual, and social capabilities. We believe that human knowledge enhanced by divine revelation brings a person to full potential and hence happiness in life and life after.
Catholic schools today have the same mission, commitment to excellence, and core values as they did when they began in the 19th century. Yet, today the future of our schools in the US is very precarious. The continued existence of parochial schools depends on the willingness of each Catholic community to support, defend, and fund them.
We all owe a debt of thanks to the many teachers and staff who over the last 71 years have taught our children. I am particularly grateful to our current teachers and the excellent leadership of our Principal, Mr. Bruce Hermie. Not only does he maintain the academic rigor that is a hallmark of our school but also the Catholic environment that allows faith to grow and mature.
We at Mt. Carmel have had a long history of supporting a Parish school. Our families, and particularly the parents of our students, are the reason why we can operate our school in keeping with the founding mission and philosophy since 1945. But all our parishioners are stakeholders in our endeavor to provide Catholic education to our children. Your support of the overall life of the Parish also, in turn, nourishes our families and hence our school.
Each person’s stewardship of their gifts and talents and time contribute to building and sustaining the mission of our School. When you volunteer your time to assist our students or teachers, when you participate in our annual Festival (April 1st this year), shop with our Food for Thought Gift cards, and donate to the Catholic Tuition Organization (catholiceducationarizona.org), you are helping ensure that a new generation will have the tools necessary to live our Catholic faith and lifestyle and contribute to the building up of our society and the human family in general.
All the effort, work, planning and sacrifice that we put into running our school is not so we can offer a “better” education than other types of schools, nor should anyone choose a Catholic school for that reason. Every child deserves a school that provides the best opportunities for education. Our schools are designed to form the heart, mind and soul of a child in the ways of the Christian faith. A lack of willingness to live a Catholic lifestyle undermines the efforts of a Catholic school and offers spiritual and intellectual confusion to students. In other words, we do what we do because of who we are or who we try to be.
Catholic Schools Week provides us another opportunity to recommit ourselves as a community to the continued mission of our Catholic school. It also gives us pause to consider concrete ways we can build up Catholic education here and elsewhere.
Fr. John B.