August 5, 2018
Archbishop Paul S. Coakley
"Man cannot live without hope, and education is the generator of hope. … The true educator is like a father or a mother that transmits a life capable of a future.” – Pope Francis, addressing the plenary session of the Congregation for Catholic Education in 2017.
The Catholic Church values education as one of the fundamental building blocks for achieving our God-given potential and creating a more just and humane society in which every person’s value is recognized. Such an education includes bearing witness to the truth of the Gospel and the formation of a virtuous character.
Faith formation along with reading, writing, science and mathematics, and an appreciation for history, culture and the arts all contribute to a student’s intellectual and emotional growth and well-being. They instill, as Pope Francis said, “a life capable of a future,” and an ability to navigate the spiritual, practical and economic demands of the world.
A well-rounded education is a key ingredient to becoming the persons God created us to be.
For these reasons, the Church has long sponsored Catholic schools that support both spiritual formation and academic learning. In many countries, institutions run by the Church, historically served as the first “public schools,” and operated as some of the only outlets for people who were not wealthy, to learn and better themselves.
The Archdiocese of Oklahoma City has 22 Catholic schools, which continue this outstanding tradition of outreach and education to underserved communities. I am proud that we have added another quality school this year.
This fall, the third Catholic high school in the archdiocese, Cristo Rey Oklahoma City Catholic High School, will open with its first freshmen class. Cristo Rey OKC has been years in the making, with the active support of the archdiocese and both the business and philanthropic communities.
First and foremost, Cristo Rey OKC is a Catholic school that emphasizes spiritual growth, academic excellence and service to the community. Students will attend weekly Mass and be served by both a chaplain and a full-time campus minister.
It will offer a rigorous academic program with a “no excuses” attitude toward learning. All students are expected to succeed and to continue their education in college.
The school has put together an impressive athletics program with staples like basketball and cross country as well as sports such as rowing, golf and tennis. Each sport will be coached with an emphasis toward building character and strengthening values.
As part of the national network of Cristo Rey schools, Cristo Rey OKC utilizes a unique work-study model, where students work one day a week with a corporate partner in the Oklahoma City area. The chancery and Catholic Charities will both be participating in the work-study program.
In addition to the valuable business and networking experience that the work-study model provides, corporations compensate students by paying for most of their tuition. That contribution, combined with donations from many generous supporters, enables Cristo Rey to place tuition and costs on a sliding scale. The format makes the school affordable for low-income and modest-income families.
Cristo Rey OKC, like all of Oklahoma’s Catholic schools, represents a great tradition within our Church, bearing fruit by improving lives and changing our communities for the better. The school will provide an opportunity to help young men and women deepen their faith, alter the economic trajectory of their lives, and place them on a path to happiness and success. It will help to strengthen their character and open doors to knowledge and a life full of opportunity. This is the power of a Catholic education.
As we begin another school year, please join me in praying for students, teachers, staff and parents everywhere. May we recognize that our lives and our work are totally dependent upon God’s mercy and providence. Let us commit ourselves to being good stewards of the gifts he has entrusted to us.