The following comes from a July 7 Catholic Education Daily article by Kimberly Scharfenberger:
The priest’s presence in Catholic schools is a crucial component of faithful Catholic education and must be reintegrated for the benefit of young people, especially considering the secular impact on today’s academic environment, argues the organizer of an upcoming seminar on “The Role of the Priest in Today’s Catholic School.”
“This is becoming more of a concern to the U.S. Conference of Bishops,” he noted. “At the November meeting of the Bishops’ Conference in Baltimore, the entire presentation was devoted to the critical role of priests in the schools. Bishops were encouraged to be extremely vigilant in the assignment of priests to Catholic school work.”
Father Stravinskas told the Newman Society:
There is an absolute, essential difference between a Catholic school and a public school. Catholic schools provide a level of Catholic identity that nothing else can.
Father Stravinskas called the priest’s involvement “a theology of presence.” This “doesn’t mean that every priest must be a classroom teacher,” he said. “But just being present, being with the students, in the schools, attending their sports events and social events—all of these are concrete modes of presence that have an impact.” For school communities, “the presence of the priest is an automatic invitation to spiritual assistance and Confession.” This benefits and catechizes students and faculty alike.
Fr. Stravinskas provided an example of how a priest’s leadership can be integrated into classroom subjects. “If a teacher is just finishing a unit in biology class on genetics, this might be an appropriate moment to have the priest talk to the class about Vatican documents and Church teaching on subjects like in vitro fertilization,” he said.
The seminar will run from August 18-19 and will cover topics such as “conciliar and papal teaching on Catholic education,” “the priest as the public relations man of the school,” “financial concerns,” and “models of governance.”