I am now eight months into the priesthood and it has been a great joy to experience of various activities a priest does throughout the year. This past week I got to experience my first Catholic School’s Week, where we highlighted the work we do as a parish in forming our children to be strong and intelligent men and women who love God and follow wherever He leads. As a school, we have a duty to teach them the necessary subjects they need to have a good life and be a member of society. They learn math, science, language arts, social studies, art, music, and they go to gym class. In that sense, our school is like any other. What distinguishes a Catholic School is that there is a foundation on Christ which gives a full vision of what each child is meant to be. God calls each and every single person to be His disciples and to be saints. To help our students live up to their call we as a parish strive to build a strong Catholic culture where the seeds can be planted. We also cultivate those seeds by teaching them how to pray and how to live virtuously. The children go to Mass weekly and adoration once a month. They are taught about the virtues and are given the JOY Award for living by the monthly virtue. Last month was Gratitude, this month is Honesty.
Their formation in being students and disciples is integrated when we gather to pray as a community. They lead us in prayer by proclaiming the word of God, guiding us through the intercessions, and leading us in singing. I have greatly enjoyed being at the school and getting to know the children. They are such a delight to have, and it truly affirms how children are a gift. I love seeing them grow into the men and women God made them to be and how they use the many different talents He has given them for the good.
During Catholic School’s Week, we celebrated being a Catholic School with fun activities such as a variety show, bowling, snow tubing, and roller skating. We believe that part of forming strong and holy men and women is to give them the space to be themselves, have fun, and be creative. I went skating with the older students, and it was edifying to see how supportive they were of each other. There were many students who did not know how to skate, but those who did took the time to help them out. I did not know how to skate and many of the students came over to help me.
It has been an honor to be a part of Saint John the Baptist Catholic Church as a priest, and it is a great joy to be a part of our parish’s school ministry. I have appreciated the work we do of forming saints, teaching our children about Jesus Christ and important life skills, and giving them a place to put all those things into practice. I look forward to continuing to be with the children to help them and see them become the men and women God made them to be.
Father Joseph Nguyễn