Sunday, January 31, 2021
Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time
by The Faithful Disciple
GROW AS A DISCIPLE | PRAY, STUDY, ENGAGE, SERVE
GROW: When was the last time you were “astonished” and “amazed”? Parents might point to the birth of their child. Space enthusiasts might recall Neil Armstrong’s walk on the moon. Perhaps we felt that sense of amazement the first time we saw the Grand Canyon or another natural wonder. For the people of Capernaum, Jesus had that effect. He taught with authority. He commanded an unclean spirit. In our modern society with the constant bombardment of news and social media, it can be easy to become numb to the wonder that surrounds us. Perhaps we think we’ve seen it all. Even Jesus and the words that turned ordinary people into extraordinary disciples of the early Church can be something we take for granted or only think about for 20 minutes on Sunday. Our Gospel challenges us to quiet the noise, and Paul encourages us to seek “adherence to the Lord without distraction.” Let us pray that the Lord rekindles our faith, so that we may hear his words again as if for the first time and engage ourselves anew in living according to his teachings.
GO EVANGELIZE | PRAYER, INVITATION, WITNESS, ACCOMPANIMENT
GO: It is very hard to keep exciting news to ourselves. We have an innate desire to share important information and extraordinary events with those whom we love. It could be the call to parents to announce an engagement. Or perhaps telling a friend that you have landed a job or been accepted to college. While these milestones are significant, they pale in comparison to what Jesus has done for us. Through him, we have experienced God’s love, mercy, and redemption, not to mention the direction and means to attain a good life: on earth and with him forever in heaven. Why not share that Good News as well? We don’t have to stand on a street corner to be effective. We can simply let our faith lives enter our conversations, just as our work and other interests do. It could be as simple as, “our priest said something Sunday that really stuck with me,” or “I just finished a remarkable book about Dorothy Day.” As we begin to talk about our faith and listen to others share their insights, we not only grow closer to one another, but can grow in faith together.
WITNESS: Today’s psalm struck a chord: “If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.” Next Sunday, make a conscious effort to listen to the readings and music with an open heart (and ears). If something strikes you, consider sharing that with others – be it around the dinner table, on a walk with friends, or during a video call.
WV Catholic Schools Applaud Accolades
as We Celebrate Catholic Schools Week
January 31 to February 1
National Catholic Schools Week is a time to celebrate. We know things will be a bit different due to the
pandemic, but it will not contain our pride. Now is the perfect time to applaud our school community and
the impressive accomplishments we have worked so hard to achieve.
Our 24 Catholic schools – 18 grade schools and six high schools – work together as a team of educators,
faith leaders, and families to nurture high achieving and morally responsible young people.
While times have been uncertain our goals remain very clear. Whether in the classroom or remote we are
steadfast in presenting challenging and engaging academics complimented with life and leadership
lessons in empathy, morals, responsibility, service, and faith.
Our schools have gone above and beyond with safety protocols based on the guidelines of the American
Academy of Pediatrics, Centers for Disease Control, and state and local health departments, so we could
maintain a five day a week plan. When remote learning was mandated by the state our principals reported
full attendance with faculty requiring participation and accountability among students. Principals
continued to have high expectations of their faculty; and in turn teachers did not settle for bare minimum
work or ease grading to a pass-fail curriculum.
We require standardized assessments not once, but three times a year in our Catholic schools to measure
our students’ growth, define areas that need improvement, and identify strengths in order for our
educators to develop the best course of action for student success.
It is that persistence that guides our students to surpass their own expectations. The Class of 2020 in our
six high schools were offered more than $28.4 million in academic and athletic scholarships. That’s
nearly $14 million more than the previous year thanks in part to the encouragement of our teachers,
counselors, principals, coaches, and priests.
As a school system we remain forward thinking and are committed to high standards as we plan ahead.
We have embarked on an intentional growth planning process in 2020-2021. In doing so our schools have
been able to honor and reflect on the past and plan for the future. Each school’s comprehensive plan
strategically focuses on the National Standards and Benchmarks for Effective Catholic Elementary and
Secondary Schools(NSBECS). All 24 schools’ plans center around four pillars:
• Mission and Catholic Identity
• Governance and Leadership
• Academic Excellence
• Operational Vitality
This growth process is part of our national accreditation. The diocesan intentional growth plan will reflect
the individual school plans. It is our priority to continually improve Catholic education across the Diocese
We are not only making history, but also writing our story of adaptability, perseverance, and unwavering
faith every step along this journey. As I have said countless times, I am inspired by our schools, their
advisory boards, and parishes they love and value each one of our students.
May God bless you always and in all ways.
Mary Ann Deschaine, Ed.S
West Virginia Catholic Schools Superintendent