Studies have shown that Catholic schools are on average significantly better than their public school counterparts with regard to closing the achievement gap in low income and minority students, building civic responsibility in their students, and getting kids to college. Our Lafayette Catholic schools are no different. We find that our graduates are between 2 to 3 times more likely to attend college, and that our high expectations for all of our students regardless of their ethnicity, family status or economic support – lead to high college attainment rates. But why do Catholic schools have so much success? One reason, that is also supported by research, is that Catholic schools are supported by and operate as a community. Helping build and grow our community of faith not only leads to better educational outcomes for your children, it leads to better outcomes for our entire community. This is a shared responsibility. Here are three things we all can do to ensure our community grows and thrives:
My grandmother, Elberta Davis, always had room for one more at the dinner table. Whether you showed up with an unannounced friend or a gaggle of kids she would always somehow have enough food, and make room for one more, and my grandfather, George Davis, would quickly offer a cold beverage and begin to engage the strangers in conversation and merriment. Everyone that left their house always wanted more – it just felt good. You wanted to be part of what they created.
Hospitality is much more than being polite. It is a virtue and something we are all called to do. Great Catholic schools are hospitable. To many, so-called “communities” can feel “gated.” To someone already inside they feel safe, comfortable, and friendly – but to a stranger they feel unwelcoming, cold, and intimidating. Hospitality requires us to be open and welcoming to the strangers, just like Elberta and George. When we create a community that is hospitable, we are truly creating the kind of community that Jesus calls us to create. Let’s continue to build our community through hospitality to volunteers, to new parents, to new students, to opposing athletic teams and their fans, and especially to those that aren’t expecting us to be hospitable. Please take the time to be hospitable. When we are hospitable our community grows and thrives.
My mom and dad have a family credo: “Do something for others today.” This credo came about through years of living this way. Whenever someone needed some help they were often some of the first to respond, and it wasn’t always to help someone in desperate need. It was just to help. In time of crisis, most of us will respond, but what about the every day – those are the truly generous ones. Whether it was someone that needed help tiling their kitchen floor, painting their house, preparing a meal, or even caring for children – they always responded with great generosity. Generosity is not just returning a favor – it is done with nothing expected in return. When we are generous, our community grows and thrives.
“Preach The Gospel And If Necessary Use Words”:
St. Francis of Assisi is often credited with saying, “Preach the Gospel and if necessary use words.” This is essentially a call to evangelize the faith and the Gospel values not by just what we say, but what we do. Just like a family credo, it is important to build a community around shared values. For the LCSS community, we of course have our shared faith, and within this faith we are given great inspiration and guidance through the Gospel. It is important that we all routinely reflect on these shared values, pass them onto our children, and live them out in our daily lives. When we do this, our community of faith will grow and thrive. The LCSS Core Gospel Values can be found here.