What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister has nothing to wear and has no food for the day, and one of them says to them, “Go in peace, keep warm, and eat well.” but you do not give them the necessities of the body, what good is it? So also faith of itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” James 2:14-17
This is a time for faith, no question about it. With all of the uncertainties in our world today, there are certainly way more questions than answers. There is only one thing certain and solid: our faith in God and His promises for us. Does that sound cliche? Trite? I recently heard a man of “high standing” say that there is no use for prayer during this pandemic. “Prayer is not magic,” he said. “We need action now, not prayer.” I have also heard comments such as; “We don’t need your thoughts and prayers. We need solutions.” Well, St. James would disagree, at least halfway. Faith is always needed, but only with works as well. We can stare at the mountain and pray that it moves, or we can pray while we are leaning into it. Faith and Works are equally important, especially now. So, while we are praying daily here on the Hill, we are also working, and ask for your help. At the end of my letter will be a link to a Parent Survey. I ask that you complete it and let us know how we are doing and how we can better serve your family.
Cathedral educators have been demonstrating both Faith and Works since we last were together on March 13. We continue to have our prayer team record and share daily prayer; we have visited each employee/educator and posted appreciation yard signs honoring them, and this week, we had a team of 40 educators visit each of our 271 seniors and present them with a special Senior Package. That package included their cap and gown, a yard sign of appreciation, special notes, treat bags, and mementos. We also are raffling off and presenting our classroom educators with restaurant gift cards, three per day every day, which gives our teachers a delightful meal option and also supports our local restaurants. Most importantly, we are staying connected to our students, despite our social distances. We have clubs and academic teams, and our advisory/counties meet with our students regularly. One of our seniors told us recently that he feels so connected, thanks to our efforts. We have held prayer services, Sunday Masses, and athletic team meetings and workouts. In sum, we are continuing to educate the hearts and minds of our students in new and unique ways, and we plan to continue to do so as long as it is necessary.
The e-learning that we find ourselves immersed in is, by all accounts, not ideal. The human touch of education is the essence of the relationships between educators and students, especially so in Catholic and Holy Cross models. I believe that our teachers are doing a great job of making the most of this, but it is still not ideal. We are currently working on plans for a hybrid model for this summer, as well as next fall. We will have as many details as possible in the next few weeks. Once again, much of this is not in our control. What IS in our control is how we react, by doing our best in our daily work, sharing kindness with those who are quarantined alone, or who are sick. What we also can control is the high emphasis we will place on the health of our Cathedral family, especially those most at risk. We have formed a Safety Task Force that will put into action the very best of practices in terms of the safety of our students and adults once we return to school. This summer, we begin construction on our Innovation Center, which brings with it challenges and opportunities given the pandemic. We will put our best minds together and spare no resource to ensure that our environment is not only safe for all but as warm and welcoming as it has always been.
Now more than ever, we need you, the members of our community, to support us to the best of your ability. Cathedral has always relied on the generous, amazing support from you to fulfill our mission and vision. I truly believe that this e-learning experience will make it very clear to a new generation of students that schools like Cathedral are more vital to more children than ever before. On April 29, we held a special Day of Caring for the Class of 2020, our 100th graduating class. These 271 students have probably felt the loss of this time on the Hill more deeply than anyone. On our special day in their honor, we received $70,086 from more than 356 donors! As you support us, we want to continue to support you. For those in our community experiencing financial hardships during this time, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we will work with you. It is our goal not to have anyone leave our family as a result of this pandemic.
As the calendar turns to May, I believe that hope abounds. Also, I truly believe that once we are on the other side of this pandemic, we will be a stronger school, more able to adapt, collaborate and educate in new ways as a result of our current situation. Our new Class of 2024 will be the fortunate beneficiaries of our new-found nimbleness, and our stars will shine even more brightly. We also want to know how YOU think we are doing. Please take a few moments to fill out this survey. We value your input and want to hear from you. Independent School Management put together this survey for independent schools, so there will be references to elementary and middle schools. At the same time, I believe this survey will provide useful data for Cathedral High School.
Finally, please know that we love and miss seeing you. Our beloved Hill is not the same without seeing you at our school, especially during this beautiful time of year. I urge you to remain hopeful, positive, and prayerful. Faith and Works, as St. James reminds us, are vital in concert with each other. Until we see you again, know that we are praying and working to continue to make Cathedral High School a place where hearts and minds are educated like nowhere else. Go Irish!
- Rob Bridges