By ARCHBISHOP WILTON D. GREGORY, Commentary | Published May 26, 2016 | En Español
Every parent and grandparent of a graduate should be fortunate enough to receive a letter like the one I received a couple of weeks ago. A young woman, who is an alumna from Our Lady of Mercy Catholic High School from several years past, wrote to me to tell me of her academic achievements over the last decade. She went on to graduate summa cum laude from the University of Tennessee, and now she has graduated with honors from the law school of Northwestern University. What a proud tribute to her family and to the faculty and administration of Our Lady of Mercy to have helped to prepare this young woman for such wonderful scholarly accomplishments.
In her letter, the young woman thanked me for an intervention that she said that I had made on her behalf while she was at Our Lady of Mercy. I could not recall such an intercession that I had made involving her, but that was not the important concern. It was clearly her successful pursuit of her educational goals that brought a smile to my face, as I am sure that it did for her entire family.
Catholic schools work wonders for young people in preparing them well for life. Our schools provide both a strong faith tradition and excellent academic training. A young lady like the one who wrote to me confirms the success of our efforts and the happy return on the sacrifices that their families, our parishes, the staffs and faculties make each day.
All of our schools, parish, regional, diocesan, and private, work long and hard to form our youngsters in the faith and with the highest academic standards, and they regularly succeed beyond their expectations.
This past Saturday, I shook hands with almost 600 high school graduates from our archdiocesan Catholic high schools, and as I looked each candidate in the eye, I was encouraged to believe that these young men and women will have bright futures ahead of them in no small part because of their Catholic school education. These graduates have earned more than $55 million in scholarships (excluding Hope scholarships), another tribute to their hard work and to the support that they receive from the faculty and staffs of these schools. Because of a calendar conflict, I was not able to be present to applaud the graduating class from Marist this year, but they too consistently add greatly to the glory of Catholic education in the Archdiocese of Atlanta.
The letter that I received only confirmed the confidence that I have in the quality and the purpose of our Catholic schools. We produce excellent students. Their excellence begins first and foremost in their homes with families who encourage and support them as they grow in faith and in wisdom. That excellence is enhanced in the schools where they develop as youngsters of integrity and insight.
It’s not too late for this year’s graduates to send a note or a letter of appreciation—or perhaps they would be more inclined to text a message to their parents and grandparents thanking them for the blessing of their Catholic education. In the event that they don’t manage to take that opportunity, may this column by the Archbishop serve as a sincere thank you to all those who help to make a Catholic education a possibility and a success for our kids.