Sat. Sep 26th, 2020

As we begin a new school year, I wish to thank the parents and families who entrust their sons and daughters to our Catholic schools, whether through in-person or distance learning.
All of us who serve in Catholic education consider it a privilege to work with you in providing the outstanding education and Catholic formation for which Catholic schools are well known and respected. We take this responsibility of serving you and your family very seriously.
I also wish to thank our principals and teachers for making distance learning a reality last Spring on very short notice, and for working diligently through the summer to prepare for in-person and distance instruction this school year. I know of your great efforts to make our schools as safe as possible. Since June 26, when the basic plan for this new school year was announced, our principals and teachers have been working to make certain that our schools would be prepared for this new academic year.
Usually at the start of a new school year there is excitement among all of us. This year things are different. There is a range of emotions among us as we wonder what this year will hold. We cannot allow our anxieties to keep us from moving forward. I ask the families of our students to please cooperate with your teachers and principals.
We are all in this together to provide our kids with outstanding education and Catholic formation. Our schools educate, and educate well, the whole student: academically, socially, athletically, culturally, and spiritually. Let’s work together for the good of our kids.
One observation I would like to share. It pains me at times to read some posts on social media. Some comments are cruel. This is true not only with posts dealing with the Church; it is true throughout our society.
I wonder if some posts are done very quickly without reflection, or posted without realizing that a real person is being hurt, or posted without an awareness of how many people will read the post.
There is an old saying: “Sticks and stones can break my bones but words will never hurt me.” This is simply not true. Words can hurt and hurt deeply. Words can bitterly divide.
Allow me to share something which Pope Francis wrote two years ago but which is even more true today:
Christians too can be caught up in networks of verbal violence through the internet and the various forms of digital communication. Even in Catholic media, limits can be overstepped, defamation and slander can become commonplace, and all ethical standards and respect for the good name of others can be abandoned.
The result is a dangerous dichotomy, since things can be said there that would be unacceptable in public discourse, and people look to compensate for their own discontent by lashing out at others. It is striking that at times, in claiming to uphold the other commandments, they completely ignore the eighth, which forbids false witness or lying, and ruthlessly vilify others. Here we see how the unguarded tongue, set on fire by hell, sets all things ablaze. (James 3:6)
We cannot forget that when we use social media to disrespect or speak evil of others we are, as Pope Francis says, doing the work of the Evil One. The harm and division we cause is not from God. Division is always from the devil. Let this misuse of social media not be true of us here in the Archdiocese of Mobile. Instead, if a parent has a concern, please contact the principal and work it out.
Let me close with a special word to our students.
I am expecting great things from you this year. I have confidence in you because of what I have seen through the years. I look forward to visiting each of your schools this year and hearing great things about you. I ask you to also work with your teachers and principals. This will be a very different school year, but it can also be a very good year. Together, let’s make it a great one.

By Editor

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