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Dr. Jim Rigg

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Dr. Jim Rigg is Superintendent of the Archdiocese of Chicago Catholic Schools.

Monday, February 01, 2016

Celebrating Catholic Schools Week: The Secrets to Our Success

January 31st marks the beginning of Catholic Schools Week, a time when we join with dioceses across the country in celebrating the success of our schools. Each of the 230 Catholic schools in the Archdiocese has planned events and activities to commemorate this week. From special Masses and service projects to pep rallies and “crazy sock day,” Catholic Schools Week is a time of great enthusiasm and joy.

Such celebration is well deserved. Catholic schools have achieved remarkable success in the United States. For generations, our schools have repeatedly demonstrated that they can effectively prepare children for the challenges that lie ahead. By any academic measure, we have shown that a Catholic education is second-to-none. I have been repeatedly impressed by how many prominent leaders in business, civic organization and non-profits graduated from Catholic schools. Make no mistake: Our Catholic schools know how to teach children!

Why do Catholic schools work? The secret to our success resides in two areas: Christ and Community.

Our schools succeed because Christ is at the center of a Catholic education. Not only do we equip children with the knowledge and skills that they need to thrive, we teach them how to live lives of goodness and holiness. Working in partnership with their parents, our schools enable each child to know and understand their unique calling from God. Children encounter Christ in our schools and learn to deepen that relationship every day.

I have visited public and charter schools that excel at academics. What truly sets our schools apart is the healing presence of Christ, and how Christ unlocks each child’s unique potential.

Our second great strength emerges out of the genuine sense of community that exists within each Catholic school. In reflection of the earliest Christian communities, our schools are places where families, parishioners and other supporters are welcomed and valued. Schools become places where friendships are formed, successes are celebrated and hardships are healed. Throughout my career, I’ve had dozens of parents comment on the strength of their Catholic school as a community. Parents and supporters are not just welcomed into our schools, they are embraced and enlisted as partners in education.

Having visited over 60 of our Catholic schools since I started as Superintendent in October, I have witnessed over and over the transformative power of Catholic education. This Catholic Schools Week, I invite you to celebrate the precious gift of our schools. May God continue to bless this vital ministry!

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