Catholic Schools Week a chance to acknowledge those who selflessly serve

Brian M. Dougherty, Ph.D

Brian Dougherty, Ph.D. | Special to The Michigan Catholic

As the annual Catholic Schools Week approaches, we are reminded that this is a time of celebration and thanksgiving. Over the past few years, I have used this opportunity to highlight the many accomplishments and achievements of our students, and again this year there have been many.

However, this year I would like to use this space to acknowledge the people who are dedicated to serving our schools is many selfless ways and are the key to our student success both academically and spiritually.

Our pastors: With the many challenges facing our families and communities, our pastors are often called upon for guidance, counsel, and to be the pastoral strength for families in troubled times. The duties of leading a parish also require pastors to be administrators, finance directors, human resource managers and at times carpenters and plumbers. Willingly and freely these tasks are shouldered in every parish.

However, some are called to lead a parish that also has a school. This added responsibility doubles the load for our pastors, and they do this work very well. They are active in the schools, present at sporting events, fundraisers and school activities. In speaking with parents, I hear often how much they love and appreciate the work of our pastors.

Our principals: A daily schedule for a principal includes parent, student and teacher interaction centered on curriculum, student success and family issues, as well as conversations about budgeting, tuition, enrollment, fundraising, scheduling and much more. As the academic and spiritual leader in the school, our principals take on many roles but with one very common theme: how to help children to grow in their faith, and to be successful in their academic pursuits.

Our teachers: Teachers are probably the most important person in the school to the children they teach. They serve as the first example for our students in their work ethic, their willingness to give the extra time and effort to ensure that all of their students succeed. They work with parents in good times and challenging times to form the vital home/school cohesiveness necessary to develop strategies that can be used in the home and school to help every child learn.

Our buildings and grounds persons: These are the people who ensure that our buildings are clean, welcoming, warm and safe environments for our students to come each day. Throughout the archdiocese, we have many who are performing these roles as volunteers, as full-time and part-time employees, but in common they give their very best each and every day. Cutting grass and clearing snow, waxing floors and sweeping classrooms, these men and women perform a vital service for our children.

As Catholic Schools Week begins, you will be hearing from our pastors, principals and teachers about the many successes of their schools, the academic performance of their students and the many community service projects with which our schools are involved, and you will be shown the many examples of how Christ is present, alive and very much a part of our schools.

On behalf of the Office of Catholic Schools, I would like to thank those mentioned here and the many others who make our schools something very special. On behalf of all our schools, I invite you to gather your family members, friends, neighbors and your children to come and visit our schools and experience once again or for the first time our Christ-Centered Schools.

Brian M. Dougherty is superintendent of Catholic schools for the Archdiocese of Detroit.