This is Catholic Schools Week. Although I haven't done a poll, over the years, I've heard more than a few Maryknollers talk about who influenced their decision to become a Maryknoller. Especially with the older veterans, over and over again, they said that their grade school teachers played a significant role in their wanting to become a missionary. Most, if not all of those teachers, were nuns. Not Maryknoll Sisters, but women religious from various communities that got them enthused about mission.
My three kids went through Catholic School K-12. They never saw a nun in the classroom in all their years of education. They had great lay teachers and received a wonderful and solid education. But I did notice one thing. Because of my work with Maryknoll I'd quiz them about whether they ever talked about mission in their classes. Not very often, they'd tell me; except of course the time I came to their classroom to give a mission education presentation and that was just plain embarrassing to have your dad come to your class.
I appreciate that there are a lot of demands on Catholic School teachers and I very much admire their dedication, especially the long hours at often lower pay. However, I think we have some work to do to help them grow in their identity as mission educators. They play a significant role in forming the next generation of Catholics who hopefully will take seriously their baptismal call to participate in the mission of Jesus.
As Maryknoll celebrates its 100th Centennial this year, we follow in the footsteps of our founders, who made mission education a priority. We are trying to step up our outreach to Catholic teachers this year. One effort has been to get the Maryknoll Magazine, along with posters and study guides into the classroom. About 150,000 students currently are participating in this Classroom Program. Please check out our mission education resources and recommend them to your Catholic School teacher friends.