Pope Francis values education. But what else would you expect from someone who taught for years in Buenos Aires — first literature and psychology at a Jesuit high school, and later, theology at the prestigious Colegio del Salvador and Colegio Maximo?
In 2014, the Pope expressed his firm belief that parents should have the right to choose a “moral and religious education” for their children. He pointed out that in today’s ever-changing, technological world, our children are bombarded with so much information that it’s difficult to filter through it. Because of this, the Pope drove home the point that families and teachers must guide students to critical thinking and a moral compass. That is exactly where a faith-based education comes in.
In the schools in the Archdiocese of Hartford we have always believed in educating the mind, body and soul. Simply put, we strive to provide a safe and supportive environment in which students not only achieve good grades and high test scores, but also practice all of the core values and Gospel truths that will lead to both personal and professional success. As a result, our students will have all the tools they need to become good-hearted, productive people — as well as doctors, lawyers, business people or anything they put their minds to.
Earlier this year on Vatican Radio, Pope Francis made suggestions on how teachers can guide our lifelong learners to success:
You must not teach just content, but the values and customs of life. … [T]here are three things that you must transmit: how to love, how to understand which values and customs create harmony in society. … [Teachers] must aim to build an educational relationship with each student, who must feel welcomed and loved for what he or she is, with all of their limitations and potential.
Further emphasizing the significance of teachers, Pope Francis reflected on his own school years during the “Church for Schools” day, organized by the Italian bishops’ conference in 2014:
I remember my first teacher, that woman, that teacher I had when I was six years old, in first grade. I have never forgotten her. She is why I loved school. I visited throughout her life, until she passed away, at 98. … Please, please don't let our love for school be taken away.
Later, during the 2015 Papal visit, Pope Francis showed the world exactly how he feels about Catholic education when he visited Our Lady Queen of Angels Elementary School in East Harlem, New York. School officials said that it was an inspiring time for the students, but it surely was inspiring for Catholic educators and students throughout the nation, especially with a speech like this:
Today we want to keep dreaming. We celebrate all the opportunities which enable you, and us adults too, not to lose the hope of a better world with greater possibilities. … I know that one of the dreams of your parents and teachers, and all those who help them ... is that you can grow up and be happy.
When we all come together to educate our children, we will be one step closer to creating a world of good. On “Church for Schools” day, Pope Francis concluded, “This makes me think of an African proverb, which says: 'It takes a village to raise a child.'”
Here at the schools in the Archdiocese of Hartford, we say and live by this proverb every day.