Welcome to the new School Year!
Pope Francis has declared a Holy Year of Mercy that begins on December 8 and ends in November 2016. In making this announcement, the Holy Father described mercy as one of the major characteristics or attributes of God; it is defined as “undeserved compassion shown to another person.” God’s mercy has been a constant theme of the Pope. Indeed, in a homily just four days after he was elected, he proclaimed: “Mercy is the Lord’s most powerful message!”
This new School Year will give us a chance to reflect on the power of God’s mercy, most especially on the hopes, dreams and lives of the young. The gift of life itself is given by God, not because of anything that we have done, not because we deserve it, but simply because of the love of God that is shared by the love of our parents.
Education leads to a greater appreciation of the vastness of the universe and of our place in it. Christian education helps us to recognize that through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, God has saved humanity and given the gift of eternal life. As students come to an appreciation of God’s love for them, there is a natural tendency to reach out to others, especially to those who do not share in the riches of creation in the same measure that they do. This “urge” to help others, to offer them compassion and care, is the Christian response, our way of offering thanks for the goodness that God shares with us.
Dear students, teachers, catechists and administrators, I pray that this new School Year will allow you to come to a greater appreciation of the opportunities that the months ahead offer. Teaching and learning, guiding and studying are wonderful gifts that are placed before you. During this year, may each of you grow more and more under the influence of God’s grace, rejoicing in the Lord’s merciful love for each of you.
With every best wish and kind regard, I remain,
Patrick J. McGrath
Bishop of San Jose