Faith, excellence, and service are hallmarks of Catholic schools. The COVID-19 pandemic has stretched administrators and teachers to be creative to reach students academically and spiritually. Catholic schools have been hopeful throughout the past year that this experience will create stronger faith communities and resilient students. Family, parish, and community collaboration have been essential to the success of Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of Portland. There is much appreciation for all of the support!

Despite the challenges this year, Catholic schools have demonstrated creativity, dedication, and adaptability meeting the needs of students and families in a variety of ways. While there have been impediments along the way, there are many success stories as well. Schools have developed comprehensive protocols and safety guidelines to keep students and teachers safe on campus. They have opened for on-campus learning to varying degrees serving students and building a stronger faith community. Schools have found ways to join together in-person and virtually for the celebration of the Eucharist, practice service with community partners and local organizations, have virtual retreats, and participate in extracurricular activities. Even a new Spanish-English dual immersion Catholic school has commenced in Salem despite the pandemic.

Catholic school students continue to thrive academically and teachers are inspired with new teaching methodologies. Many new teaching strategies will continue as students transition back to full time on campus learning. Catholic schools provide opportunities to inform, form, and transform students to be faith-filled participating members of our larger community and society.

In Pope Francis’ address “Global Compact on Education. Together to Look Beyond,” (October 15, 2020) he states:

“The goal of this educational investment, grounded in a network of humane and open relationships, is to ensure that everyone has access to a quality education consonant with the dignity of the human person and our common vocation to fraternity. It is time to look to the future with courage and hope. May we be sustained by the conviction that education bears within itself a seed of hope: the hope of peace and justice; the hope of beauty and goodness; the hope of social harmony.”

No matter the circumstance, Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of Portland are committed to the mission of educating students in the light of the Catholic faith to serve God and others.

Ray-Timoney is superintendent of schools for the Archdiocese of Portland.