In October, I had the privilege of participating as a panelist at Sacred Heart High School’s freshman retreat. The event was titled “Catholic Heroes.” This retreat was organized for the freshmen at Sacred Heart as a response to the recent scandal that the Church is facing. The administration at the school wanted to give the students examples of local organizations who are living out the teachings of the Church. The goal was to show the children that the love of Christ is much bigger and more powerful than the problems the Church is experiencing. It was our goal to show the children the beauty of the Church in action.
The retreat featured four local Catholic organizations that serve the needs of the community and do it with excellence. These organizations were St. Vincent DePaul Mission of Waterbury, Catholic Relief Services, the Malta House of Care, and Carolyn’s Place. We each had an opportunity to present how we serve the community, how it effects the lives of those we serve, and give the students ideas about how they, too, can be Catholic Heroes.
Sacred Heart couldn’t have chosen a better time or theme for such a retreat. As adults, we must remember that the children who are in high school today have never seen churches with congregations overflowing. These children have never experienced standing-room-only Masses. They don’t have nuns in every classroom. Most Catholic children today don’t even have Catholic education. As scandal rocks the Church, adults can look back and take comfort in the “good old days” and hope things will soon return to how they used to be. The children of today don’t have those memories. They were born at a time of diminishing Mass attendance, church closings, apathy, and horrifying scandal. As a community of believers, it is our responsibility to ignite faith in these children and let them know the beauty that is found in the teachings and Tradition of the Catholic Church. We have to teach them that the love of Jesus is active and alive. We can do this through service to one another, by setting a good example, remaining faithful to the teachings of the Church, and by doing what Christ commands us; to “love one another.” I am so grateful that Sacred Heart found that the work we do at Carolyn’s Place was worthy to send this message to their students. I am also encouraged that Sacred Heart took an initiative to look for the positive and use that as a building block for their students’ faith formation.