January is a special month for all of us who value Catholic education, especially if we happen to be Americans.
It’s not only the month that kicks off Catholic Schools Week here in the United States (starting the last Sunday in January, January 28). It’s also a time when we celebrate some special and important feast days for Catholic teachers everywhere.
The month opens and ends with feast days of great Catholic educators. January 31 is the feast of St. John Bosco, who dedicated his life to educating at-risk young people in his native Italy. And January 4 is the feast day of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, a religious sister who opened the first Catholic school in the United States and is credited as the founder of the American parochial school system.
If you’d like to learn more about St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, or share her story with your kids or students, check out this video from the Seton Shrine called Betty Bayley Becomes a Saint:
Encouragement for educators
Teaching is largely a thankless job in the U.S., where the demanding hours and insufficient pay (among other trials) have created something of a national crisis.
Hopefully the January celebration of these days related to Catholic education can be a gentle reminder to show appreciation for the teachers we know, especially those who teach in Catholic schools or religious education programs.
Meanwhile, educators may find some encouragement in these words St. Elizabeth Ann Seton penned in a conference to her spiritual daughters:
You are now in your first setout. Be above the vain fears of nature and efforts of your enemy. You are children of eternity. Your immortal crown awaits you, and the best of Fathers waits there to reward your duty and love. You may indeed sow here in tears, but you may be sure there to reap in joy.
Hopefully sowing in tears is not part of the package, but surely teachers know well what it’s like to plant seeds that may not be ready for harvest for years to come. May all dedicated teachers “reap in joy” indeed when they see the fruits of their work in heaven.
As you continue in “your duty and love,” from the bottoms of our hearts, we thank you, teachers!