Fall 2023 message from the Liaison Bishop
✠ Yvan Mathieu, SM
The school year that started a few weeks ago is an important milestone for the Ontario Association of Parents in Catholic Education (OAPCE). Founded in 1939, the Association is about to celebrate 85 years of existence. This is a unique occasion to reflect more deeply on the role of parents in Catholic education.
In his apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia, The Joy of Love, (2016) Pope Francis declared that “the family is the first school of human values.” (§ 274) Thus, parents are the first educators of the children God entrusted to them. In 2018, echoing Pope Francis, the Bishops of Ontario wrote the apostolic letter Renewing the promise. They remind parents that “God has gifted you with children and you are their first and most important educators. Yours is the task to immerse them in the unconditional love of God found in Christ Jesus.” (§ 16)
In today’s world, this is not an easy mission. Your most important commitment is to continue to invest in your role as first and most influential educators of the children God gave you in his love. It requires from each and every one of us a renewed personal encounter with Christ, the risen Lord. Like any human being, your children’s hearts desire God. You are the voice that reminds them on a daily basis that God’s love is calling them.
In his 1975 apostolic exhortation Evangelii Nuntiandi, pope Saint Paul VI wrote, “for the Church, the first means of evangelization is the witness of an authentically Christian life, given over to God in a communion that nothing should destroy and at the same time given to one’s neighbor with limitless zeal. As we said recently to a group of lay people, ‘Modern man listens more willingly to witnesses than to teachers, and if he does listen to teachers, it is because they are witnesses’.” (§ 41) As parents, you are certainly called by God to be witnesses “of an authentically Christian life.” By giving yourselves wholeheartedly to your family, you give yourself to God and his project of love for the whole of humanity.
My prayer for all of you who are Catholic parents, for our Catholic schools and for all those who dedicate their life to Catholic Education or our children, is that together we might turn our hearts to Christ. In return, Christ will introduce us once again in the communion with the Father. He will renew in us the gifts of the Spirit. In the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, we will become more and more witnesses of Christ for our children and for the whole of humanity.
✠ Yvan Mathieu, SM