This past week we celebrated the feast day of Saints Timothy and Titus. Both became bishops. Timothy had an unusual life; we know St. Paul went from city to city preaching Christ and forming small groups of faithful; today we call them parishes. Very often Paul remained six or seven months in one city. He remembered Christ’s words, “When you enter a city stay in one place; do not move around. Your task is to preach the Gospel.” Paul came to Athens, Greece and remained in one home with a family: a young man named Timothy, his mother, Eunice, and grandmother, Lois. We assume each evening they had supper, prayed together; then walked to some location in the city where Paul preached to many people. When Paul decided to leave the city, Timothy asked if he could join the group and everyone agreed.
As I said, Paul’s mission was to preach and establish stable communities. In Philippi, Greece they discovered there was no one to continue the work Paul had begun. That community needed someone to preach, baptize, hear confessions, welcome new converts and preside at Sunday Mass. Timothy volunteered and became the pastor. But it seems, soon afterward, he became discouraged. His friends were gone; he did not have their support. And there was opposition. Many in the city believed that Caesar Augustus, the Roman Emperor, was God. Paul heard about Timothy’s discouragement and wrote back to him. Here are his exact words: “I recall your sincere faith that first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and that I am confident lives also in you…” Do we see what Paul did? He reminded Timothy that to be baptized and follow Christ was not always easy and that he, Timothy should remember the example of his mother and grandmother. Today, I want to commend those adults who teach our public school students every Monday night. Those teachers prepare their lessons and pray with their students. Many of those public school parents say grace before meals and bring their children to Mass each Sunday. Many of our Catholic school parents do the same.
And then there is our school-with the same subjects we find at Nathan Hale Bishop Woods, and East Haven Academy. But there is a difference: in addition to Language Arts, Science, Social Studies, Geography, Foreign Languages, Computer Science, Art, Music and so forth, we teach and practice Religion. That means Christ, Mary, the saints, sacraments, prayers and what Christ want us to do. And, in a Catholic school we have reinforcement. That means that what we begin on Monday we can continue in the rest of the week. Each year on September 7 the entire Catholic Church celebrates the Birthday of Mary. At dismissal, here, we all sing Happy Birthday. That does not happen across the street.
In every Catholic School Christ is a topic for study, the example of right behavior and a hidden presence. Christ, Himself once said, “Where two or three are gathered together in my name, I am there among them.” That is why the first thing we do each morning is pray. We intentionally invite Christ to walk through the front door and remain with us. One distinctive feature here is that the school is physically connected to the church. Teachers can instruct their students theoretically in their classrooms on the stations of the cross, confessions and the Mass and then lead their students through the Art Room, enter the church and put those events into practice. In Mrs. Camputaro’s office, our school secretary, there’s a sign that reads, “Christ is the reason for this school; He is the unseen but ever-present teacher in its classes. He is the model of its faculty and the inspiration of its students.” This makes a big difference.