As things are readied for the opening of a new school year in buildings where our Archdiocese of Chicago Catholic School principals have just seen the heels of the thousands of kids who (voluntarily) participated in a robust academic summer school, new focus emerges.
One of the areas of special import to the high schools and eighth graders will be the Year of Teens and Early Young Adults, the first year in a four year effort to re-engage and strengthen life across the Archdiocese of Chicago. While it at first seems strange that Catholic Schools are not a central theme of the Archdiocese of Chicago’s Strategic Plan, it is a reminder that the schools (including their imperative to academic excellence, faith formation, and development of leaders of integrity for society) actually flow from the Catholic Church in support of parents.
And parents and families do not live in a vacuum: they are best served in the community of a parish. So, while I am partial to Catholic high school cafeterias (I am not kidding!), labs, and chapels, this effort centers on bringing young people into the flow of parishes they can call their own, among the believers in a wider community.
So – look for them, these our young people – in a local pew, at a local service site, in new conversations across parishes – look for them, welcome them, and love them. Do not fear their enthusiasm, their hulking teenage presence, the quick laughter and hard questions.
They belong to you. They too are Church.