The Valley Catholic August 20, 2019 - Page 21

tvc.dsj.org | August 20, 2019 CATHOLIC SCHOOLS 21 Welcome Back to School As hallways and classrooms fill with students for a new school year, students likely return under a cloud of trepida- tion and anxiety in the wake of three mass shootings in the span of one week, including one in our own backyard, our beloved community of Gilroy. We continue to review our protocols to be assured that we are doing all possible to keep our students, faculty, and staff safe in our schools. We also have assembled some best practices for families and students in coping with news of tragedies such as the ones we have witnessed across our country and all-too close to home, in Gilroy. It is important to be aware of anxiety that students might carry and to minimize it as much as possible so that learning and personal growth can take place. As I have reflected on these heart- wrenching tragedies, I am reminded of a fundamental truth of what it means to be human – that we belong to one another. No one is an island. No one should be an island. It is important that we examine our attitudes and practices with regard to bullying. Also, what are some ways in which we can reach out to those that may be new to our communities, those who may feel left out or ostracized from certain groups or activities? As a recent newcomer to California, I have personally found people in the area tremendously welcoming and kind. How important are those basic human virtues! They help to humanize us, to remind us that we belong to each other – brother, sister, neighbor. Pope Francis, since the beginning of his pontificate, has encouraged us all to go to the margins of society to encounter Christ in the poor, in those excluded from the activity of society. We need not travel to other countries to do this; we can simply turn to our neighbors and offer a gesture of wel- come, of friendship, and perhaps listen to their stories! Being able to tell our stories also helps to connect at a deeper human level with others and to feel a part of community. Saint Paul, in reflecting 20 centuries ago on what it meant to be part of this new reality, the church, offered a very helpful, simple and profound, image: we are the Body of Christ! When one member of the body suffers, the entire body feels the pain. Even at a basic hu- man level, beyond those of us baptized into the Christian faith, we are one human family. We are reminded that all persons are created in the image of God, and thus bear immeasurable dignity to be respected. May we, as we embark on a new year of learning and personal growth, become ever more deeply human in our concern for others, compassionate members of the Body of Christ. +Oscar Cantú Bishop of San José The Joy of Encountering Christ By Liz Sullivan The Diocese of San José officially kicked off the 2019-2020 school year on August 12 with the Annual Convo- cation Mass at Mission Santa Clara on the campus of Santa Clara University. Bishop Oscar Cantú was the cel- ebrant, with assistance from priests throughout the Diocese. Before the Mass, Superintendent of Schools Jennifer Beltramo addressed the hundreds of teachers and princi- pals from the Diocese’s 26 elementary schools. “We belong to one another. It is a simple message in this day and age. I ask that you be a source of inspiration for the students and help them build that sense of unity.” “Catholic schools play a unique role in education,” said Beltramo. “Those in it boldly and unabashedly stand with Christ. Catholic schools have a deep and personal relationship with Christ. Christ is a vital part of ministry.” For Bishop Cantú, Catholic educa- tion is something near and dear to his heart and his ministry. The Bishop is a product of Catholic schools in the The Diocese of San José held its annual Convocation Mass on August 12 at Mission Santa Clara on the campus of Santa Clara University. Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston in Texas. He attended the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, earn- ing a licentiate in sacred theology and a doctorate dogmatic theology. “We have all been reflecting on the tragedies in Gilroy, in El Paso and in Dayton,” said the Bishop, “and what it says about us and our nation. When I thought of them, my mind came to you (the teachers). You see young hearts and young minds. Day in and day out you get to know them. You have an important position of influ- ence. It is important for the students to have respect for our brothers and sisters in need and (understand) that everyone in need is our neighbor.” The Bishop continued: “How we treat the least of those is how we treat Jesus. We belong to one another. It is a simple message in this day and age. I ask that you be a source of inspiration for the students and help them build that sense of unity. In addition to being home to 26 elementary schools from Palo Alto to Gilroy, the Diocese of San José has six Catholic high schools and Santa Clara University, run by the Society of Jesus – the Jesuits. “As we begin a new year, how do we ensure that each of our students deeply k nows Christ and deeply sees Christ, so they can encounter Christ?,” Beltramo asked. “It takes deliberate and intentional action on a daily basis for each of us to know Christ. God has called each of us by name to this place and to this time. Here is to another incredible journey this year.” To learn more about Catholic edu- cation in the Diocese of San José, visit www.dsj.org/education.