WOODSTOCK – Catholic Schools Week continued Thursday with a Mass celebrated by Bishop David Malloy for McHenry County Catholic schools.
Eight schools gathered at Marian Central Catholic High School's gymnasium to hear Malloy celebrate his first-ever Catholic Schools Week Mass as the bishop for the Rockford Diocese.
“It's great to see [the bishop] here in support of our schools,” said Tom Landers, superintendent of Marian Central. “To see our spiritual leader take the lead and demonstrate his support … it's a gratifying thing.”
Malloy, who was ordained as the ninth bishop of the Rockford Diocese in May, spoke about the importance of valuing education, taking pride in Catholicism and standing up for Catholic beliefs.
“We are grateful and proud of you,” Malloy said to the hundreds of students. “But we need you to do more. We need you to be a witness. Be proud of being a Catholic.”
Malloy talked about acknowledging the truth about God and said, “If something is true, it is true for everyone.”
He told the students about the importance of valuing human life, even before birth, and respecting the sanctity of marriage between a man and a woman. In his homily, Malloy dismissed the idea that those beliefs are intolerant, as some believe.
“You are doing them a service [by teaching others Catholic beliefs],” he said. “You are teaching them the truth about Christ.”
“[Catholics] tend to not be as forceful as perhaps they could be and should be,” Landers said. “I think what I heard today is that we need to make sure we tell our story and stand up for our beliefs.”
Landers said Catholic schools teach students to think critically about issues such as gay marriage and abortion, but ultimately the message centers on the teachings of the Catholic faith.
“We try to help them understand why the church teaches what it teaches and why that's important, as opposed to necessarily just what culture has to say today relative to some of these issues,” Landers said.
Catholic Schools Week is a national annual observance that also serves as a marketing tool for families to consider enrolling their children in Catholic schools for the following school year, Landers said.
Students at the Mass attend Marian Central and St. Margaret Mary School in Algonquin; St. Thomas the Apostle School in Crystal Lake; St. John the Baptist School in Johnsburg; St. Mary School in Woodstock; Sts. Peter and Paul School in Cary; St. Joseph School in Harvard; and Montini Catholic School in McHenry.