4 ways Our Lady helps students, families, and teachers find healing and strength on their journey to Sainthood
When Our Lady appeared to St. Bernadette in Lourdes in 1858, she made several requests. She asked St. Bernadette to do penance, pray the rosary, and build a church at the spot of the apparitions. She also revealed her name as the Immaculate Conception. A spring of water appeared and from that spring thousands upon thousands of healings have occurred beginning right after St. Bernadette dug up the water through our present day. Lourdes is a powerful place for spiritual and physical healing.
I am president of Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic School, a pre-K-8 parochial school in Denver, Colorado. I have seen the authentically Catholic formation we offer transform our school community amidst an increasingly broken culture.
Our Lady is a powerful intercessor for Catholic schools. Here are four ways she helps students, families, and teachers find healing and strength on their journey to sainthood.
1. Healing for Happiness
So many of us have been hurt in our education and have been led to believe that happiness comes from performing well, advancing through benchmarks, grade levels, and pay raises. There is significant damage done when all of this is accomplished and we still feel unhappy, empty, and lost. Catholic education is the salve that can heal these mindsets and offer true happiness in living our vocations, whatever they may be, for the greater glory of God. An authentically Catholic school brings healing to the families and parents who have gone through life with the wrong understanding of what brings happiness and are healed when they see their children flourishing and growing into young men and women who know their purpose and understand why they are here… to become saints and lead others to sanctity!
2. Healing for Flourishing
Catholic education prepares young men and women to be productive members of their community, but this result is secondary to the ultimate purpose of Catholic education: to pass down the living traditions of our faith and fan the flame of wonder in the hearts, minds, and souls of our students. One of the most healing aspects of my vocation at Our Lady of Lourdes is to provide our students with an education that breaks the structures of the utilitarian mindset and offers a formation for each student to flourish.
3. Healing for the Domestic Church
Another aspect of healing that Our Lady offers through Catholic education is a chance for schools to support and teach our families the importance of the Domestic Church. An authentic Catholic education begins in the home and families in our culture today need to be encouraged and supported in their mission to do this well. They are swimming upstream in a culture that seeks to assault their children. The community of an authentic Catholic school can offer the support and encouragement that is needed to do this well. Our families should feel encouraged when they restrict the onslaught of social media, video games, and smart phones from their children. We know how damaging this is and we as parents need to find strength to live in the truth and offer more for our children. From this broken culture, our Catholic community can offer healing and peace, giving the families confidence that living the Domestic Church well is the best thing they can do for their children.
4. Healing for Educators
Finally, Our Lady offers healing in the Catholic school communities to the faculty. The vocation to Catholic education is heroic and many teachers and faculty members respond to this calling through rose-colored glasses. It is a rude awakening when the sacrifice of teaching in a Catholic school hits and the teachers do not see the results of their countless hours of sacrifice. An authentic Catholic school can offer healing to these teachers by restoring the dignity and nobility of their vocation, promoting a faculty of friends, and honoring their commitment to this mission. This can be a difficult area to offer healing as so many of our Catholic schools are lean on resources. However, by simply creating the culture where the profession of teaching is respected and honored, by forming teachers in their own intellectual journey, and creating a culture with their coworkers where they can grow in authentic friendship and faith, we can bring healing to many teachers who desire and are called to follow in the footsteps of the Divine Teacher.
My husband and I were blessed to be able to visit Lourdes when we were first married. As we walked through the beautiful town and sat in prayer in front of the grotto, we were overcome with peace, not as the world gives, but a purely spiritual peace. Our Lady’s intercession is so strong there and even as you walk through the town and around the shrine, you are under the shadow of incredible stations of the Cross that climb the hillside across from the grotto. It is a good reminder that Our Lady leads us all to her Son and that when we go to her, we are sure to find Jesus very close as well. Through the intercession of Our Lady of Lourdes may our Catholic schools be a place of healing and growth for our families, students and faculty.
Rosemary Vander Weele is president of Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic School in Denver, Colorado.