Msgr. Schaedel's letter for bulletin of February 6, 2000:

Dear Parishioners,

This weekend concludes the annual celebration of "Catholic Schools Week." It's a nationwide observance and celebration of our Catholic Schools throughout the United States.

It's no secret that the Catholic Church is stronger in our country than it is in many other places. Sociologists and those who study such phenomena attribute it to the massive network of parochial schools that have been and continue to be a part of American Church History.

Two American saints: Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton and Saint John Neumann are credited with being the founders of Catholic Schools in the U.S. The Council of Baltimore mandated in 1884 that whenever possible every Catholic parish in the country should have a parochial school to serve its families and young people. (By the way, this is the same Council that forbid priests to go to horse races. I hope this was revoked somewhere along the line or some of us are in major trouble.)

Add to this situation the countless religious Sisters, Brothers, lay teachers, and priests who gave their entire lives to this enterprise. It's the main reason why the Church has been so historically strong in the U.S.

The theme for Catholic Schools Week this year is "Catholic Schools: Lighting the Way to a New Century." I am happy to report that as we move into a new century and prepare for the new millennium, Catholic Schools are stronger than ever nationally and locally. There seems to be a renewed interest in Catholic Schools among young families. The growth of the schools here in our own Archdiocese has been phenomenal in the past five years. I remember the days when all we did was worry how to keep them open. Now our major worry is how to expand them and even build new ones to accommodate the need.

Holy Rosary Parish is privileged to help support two fine Catholic Schools: Central Catholic Elementary School (located adjacent to Good Shepherd Church) and Roncalli High School. As you know, I celebrate Mass regularly for the students at Central Catholic. You would be pleased and proud to see what I see when I go there. The same is true for Roncalli High School. I don't go there as often as I do to Central Catholic, but the academic and extracurricular accomplishments of Roncalli High School are well known all over the city. In fact, Roncalli is a Blue Ribbon School of Excellence as determined nationally. We are proud of both of our schools!

I was privileged to represent the archbishop and the archdiocese at two special Catholic School events this past week:

Last Saturday night, in Richmond, I attended the "Seton School Spectacular." Despite the heavy snow, it was a full house. The first graders entertained us with some songs including "Bring Flowers of the Rarest...O, Mary, we crown thee with blossoms today." I had not heard it in years! How wonderful to know that many of our traditional Catholic devotions are faithfully being handed down. In September 2001, a new Catholic High School is slated to open in Richmond. It's a first for them; are they excited!

This past Wednesday morning I celebrated Mass for many of the students who attend the Catholic Schools in the Terre Haute Deanery: Annunciation in Brazil, Sacred Heart in Clinton, Saint Patrick and another Sacred Heart in Terre Haute. It was a delight! Our own parish son, Father Tony Spicuzza, was there with his students from Annunciation in Brazil. He has done an outstanding job in keeping that school in good shape despite almost impossible odds at times. May all of our priests follow his example!

I must also include Catholic Schools at home-Catholic Home Schooling. It's gaining in effectiveness and popularity too. All in all, Catholic Education is alive and well-Lighting the Way to a New Century.

The Parish Council met last Wednesday. Our agenda included an update on the elevator project. Gus Stinnett is leading us through it carefully and thoroughly. Bernie Greene and I will be meeting with Gus, the engineers, architects, and some others later this month to work out details.

The Council also discussed our Saint Joseph Table in March. (Mark your calendar; it's Sunday, March 26, from Noon until 5:00 p.m. at Primo Banquet Hall.) I can smell the Italian cooking even as I write about it! Proceeds benefit Catholic Education. Our next parish council meeting is Ash Wednesday, March 8, after the evening Mass.

You'll notice that I will be absent several times this month. It's a combination of some vacation time and some Chancery Office duties. That's it for this week.

Faithfully yours in God's Providence,

Rev. Msgr. Joseph F. Schaedel