Yesterday all the Catholic school teachers in the diocese gathered in Concord for a day of formation with Bishop Libasci. The morning began with breakfast and coffee followed by a beautiful Morning Prayer service. Following prayer the bishop spoke (without notes from what I could tell) for an hour on why Catholic education is so important. Drawing from his own personal experience in Catholic elementary school, Bishop Libasci spoke very passionately (and was very, very funny) about how Catholic schools show kids that they matter. He joked that he was not a very good student but through the examples of his teachers, he was able to find other lessons that helped him later in life.
For example, his second grade teacher one day got down on her knees and once at his eye level, told little Peter Libasci something about everything being OK. He didn't know it but the next day he was having his tonsils removed but his teacher knew! She took the time and to be at his level to let him know all will be well (even if he didn't know why!). He also spoke of his Math teacher who, I believe, in 8th grade or high school, told Bishop Libasci's mother than her son wasn't a good Math student but will make a fine priest. It was these little things, he said, that helped him realize he mattered. And we must do the same.
After this talk we had Mass followed by lunch. To conclude the day, the bishop gave yet another talk, again about teaching kids they matter because that is how Christ approached His ministry. He used the parable of the workers who worked different hours - some a full day, some a half day, and some very little - but all got paid the same amount. He wondered if the final group, who worked the least but got paid the same, was a group of men who were undesirable and so not picked for any work that day. Perhaps they wanted to work but had a disability or something that prevented bosses from hiring them. So, at the end of the day, feeling sorry for them and wanting them to know they mattered, the boss hired them and gave them their dignity back by paying them a full day's wage so they could provide for their families. You could have heard a pin drop during this talk. I looked around and every single face was transfixed on the bishop, it was such an amazing way to look at social justice.
I can't really do the talks any justice, there was just so much that was amazing and inspiring. Mr. Sheehan '79 of our Math department and I went up to the bishop afterwards to ask him something and to thank him for he day. He said, "Our faith is so rich. We are really going to juice this thing up" - the thing being Catholic schools.