Catholic schools matter

Published 9:51 pm Wednesday, January 24, 2018

By Chris A. Quilpa

It’s that time of year again for Catholic schools across the nation to open their doors to the public, inviting everyone, especially families with young children, for their open houses this Sunday, Jan. 28.

According to the National Catholic Education Association’s website, National Catholic Schools Week has been observed annually since 1974 to celebrate Catholic education in the United States.

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The theme of this year’s celebration, which starts Jan. 28 and ends Feb. 3, is “Catholic Schools: Learn. Serve. Lead. Succeed.”

During the observance, there will be the celebration of Masses, open houses and other activities for students, families, parishioners and community members. Through these events, schools focus on the value Catholic education provides to young people and its contributions to our church, our communities and our nation.

We’re thankful and fortunate to have several Catholic schools in Hampton Roads. Personally, my two children studied and graduated from Portsmouth Catholic (Elementary) Regional School and Peninsula Catholic High School, two of the finest Catholic schools in our region.

Why did we send our two children to Catholic schools? It was our choice, as parents who both obtained Catholic education back in the Philippines. My wife, Freny, graduated high school at St. Paul’s College of Ilocos Sur, Philippines (High School Department), while I graduated college at the Divine Word College of Vigan, Ilocos Sur, Philippines, in 1977. We both have taught chemistry and English, respectively, at St. Paul’s College of Ilocos Sur, Philippines, prior to our legal immigration to the United States in early 1980s.

It was a sacrifice on our part, financially speaking. But Catholic education was an excellent choice, if not the best, for us and our children, and it’s worth it.

We never regretted sending our children to Catholic schools because of the faith, academics, values and service they and we learn.

No one can take it away from you if you have a good education, and you take it with you everywhere you go, and use it to empower you and others, to make you a better, useful, productive and law-abiding citizen of the world. With it, life will lead you to be successful in your own right.

Catholic schools matter. Catholic schools are good for children, families, communities, the nation and the church. Catholic schools provide religious and moral foundation in a world badly in need of Gospel values.

Likewise, Catholic schools promote personal excellence as a spiritual goal. Catholic school students learn that excellence is a response to God’s blessings. Academic excellence is not a Gospel value in and of itself. Education must have an altruistic orientation. Students learn so as to help others and to make a difference in the world around them.

Catholic school students learn to experience God’s grace and presence in their lives through their relationships with family, friends and teachers.

Moreover, Catholic school students have been charged with the mission of evangelization. They are to go out into the world and share the gifts they have received as doctors, lawyers, policemen and women, firemen, businessmen and women, teachers, priests or pastors. Catholic school graduates are a “leaven” in society, helping the broader community to the best that it can be.

As an alternative venue to obtaining good education, Catholic schools exist to help meet the needs of a global citizen.

Chris A. Quilpa, a retired U.S. Navy veteran, lives in Suffolk. Email him at