By ROB HERBST
The Catholic Week
MOBILE — Fr. Stephen Vrazel reminded Archdiocese of Mobile educators that they make Catholic Schools distinguishable by being representatives of Jesus.
Fr. Vrazel, pastor of St. Vincent de Paul Parish, was the keynote speaker at Catholic School Orientation Day at Montgomery Catholic Preparatory School on Aug. 13 and St. Mary Parish/McGill-Toolen Catholic High School in Mobile on Aug. 14.
His presentation was titled “Not Another What-Makes-Catholic-Schools-So-Great Talk,” and he stressed the importance of all faculty members being committed to their faith.
“What is the difference between Catholic schools and other schools? Really and truly, you are the difference. Day-in and day-out, what the student is encountering is you. You are a representative of the Church. You are a representative of Jesus Christ to your students.”
Catholic School Orientation Day is a prelude to the first day of school Aug. 20 in the archdiocese.
Along with Fr. Vrazel’s presentation, Archbishop Thomas J. Rodi celebrated Mass at both locations.Numerous priests from throughout the archdiocese concelebrated.
Principals, directors and faculty were also commissioned during the Masses at Montgomery Catholic and St. Mary.
During his homily, Archbishop Rodi stressed how all faculty members are part of a ministry
“Each one of us has a part in the ministry of Catholic education,” he said. “(When we have school Mass), everybody needs to be there — from the administration, to faculty and staff, the maintenance man, the secretary. Everybody that is part of the ministry of Catholic education needs to be there. Not just sitting over on the side or in the back row. Kids are psychological geniuses. They see us.”
“If they saw us at a McGill-Toolen or St. Michael football game sitting on the side with their arms folded, (students) would say ‘I don’t think they want to be here.’ ”
Fr. Vrazel echoed that thought when telling school faculty members that passing on the faith isn’t limited to school religion teachers.
He said all faculty members are part of an evangelization effort.
“(Evangelization) is the whole point of a Catholic school by the way. If our goal is not evangelization, then let’s just call it ‘School.’ Why would it be a Catholic school?” Vrazel said.
He added: “Whether you’re a chemistry teacher or history teacher or any other thing that isn’t catechesis, you are still a part of this act of evangelization. … Everything we offer at a Catholic school is part of spreading the good news. Everybody is meant to be part of that commitment.”