Parents as Primary

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The last week of January is always set aside as Catholic Schools Week. Coinciding with such an intense cold wave, meant that ironically the week was largely spent at home for many students throughout the greater Twin Cities area. No doubt these ‘at home’ days were enjoyed by students even more than by parents! Perhaps teachers enjoyed the unexpected break as well as a moment to realize that their role of the Catholic educator and catechist can never simply substitute for that of the parent and guardian, but must always compliment and build upon those primary roles. The cold that has kept children home, provides a reminder of the role of parents as primary educators of their children in the ways of faith, hope and love. Parishes and schools must focus on equipping and supporting parents to make good on their promises from the marriage and baptism rites to establish their children in Christ.

            Fr. John Hardon, SJ, the great encourager of Catholic parents in this God-given task had this to say: “What do we mean when we say that parents are the primary educators of their children? We mean everything. We mean that parents begin to teach their children from the moment their children are conceived and born. We mean that parents teach their children during the children’s infancy and childhood. We mean that parents are the first, and most important and indispensable teachers of their children…What they mainly need is to know why God made them; why they are on earth at all; why they are in this world; that they are here in this life in order to prepare and train themselves for the world to come. In a word, children are to be taught that their short stay here in time is only a preparation for the world that will never end. They are to be trained for heaven…It can be stated in a single all important statement: Under God, parents are the first in time, first in authority, first in responsibility, first in ability, and first in dignity to educate their children for eternal life...” Jesus, Mary, Mother of the Holy Family, St. Joseph, obtain for all Catholic parents the grace to raise their children for a heavenly eternity.” Amen. I couldn’t have said it better.

Last weekend’s Pancake Breakfast which was hosted by the NE Holy Name Society was a great success for a great cause. Thanks to all of you who came to enjoy, or who assisted in serving, preparing food and cleaning! All proceeds of this breakfast, and the one hosted each October, go to benefit our K-8 partner, St. John Paul II Catholic Preparatory School.

This past week also included two great feast days of two great patrons of Catholic educators, neither of whom were parents, but both of whom exercised spiritual fatherhood in their care for building up the young. January 28th was the Memorial of St. Thomas Aquinas, the Angelic Doctor and patron of students; January 31st was the Memorial of St. John Bosco, affectionately called Don Bosco. We have chosen this latter figure as a patron for our Task Force for the Education of Youth, sometimes referred to as our Youth Fund. The upcoming season of Lenten Fish Fry Dinners will, as in previous years, raise money for scholarships for Catholic schools for young people from our parish as well as support ongoing youth activities within our parish. Now that is a cause worth supporting!

Over the past nine months or more, a group of parishioners have been meeting to relaunch the Task Force and focus it on this critical mission. Here is the mission statement that has emerged: “Our mission is to encourage the youth within our parish and community to pursue a life of discipleship through Catholic education, family faith formation and youth activities as a way of calling the rising generation to holiness and offering a deep formation in Catholic life. The works of the Don Bosco Task Force include funding parish youth programing aimed at fostering friendship among youth, the distribution of scholarships for Catholic schools (K-12) and providing opportunities for families to serve and grow together. Our single greatest fundraising effort is the annual series of Lenten Fish Dinners at Holy Cross.” All of this is done by supporting and encouraging parents as primary educators. There will be more opportunities to come to know about the life and legacy of Don Bosco and how you can help support the work of the Task Force for the Education of Youth. If you have ideas or want to help, you can e-mail the group at The next event to look forward to is a youth night for students in grades 8-12 on Saturday evening, March 2. More information is on p. 6 in this bulletin.

The St. Blaise blessing of throats will take place after all Masses this weekend. Following the blessing and dismissal, all are invited to approach the priest to receive a special blessing through the intercession of St. Blaise.

Grace and peace,

Fr. Howe