Ed Foy (third from left) is the new Superintendent of Catholic Schools for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. (Submitted photo)

Recently, a new father asked me why my wife and I are committed to sending our children to Catholic schools. This parent had just bought a new home and was facing the financial realities that come with a growing family. He asked, “Why did you prioritize Catholic schools over other family goals?” I chuckled and said that in our house Catholic schools are not a goal, but an essential part of our family. I explained, “Parents often say that they will do anything for their kids, and if that is true, then what is more important than the community that surrounds your children? Catholic school parents have the best support system for parenting because their kids are surrounded by a community of teachers and parents who share the same vision for what young people need.”

Catholic schools are communities of faith dedicated to forming young people into disciples of Christ ready to answer God’s call. When parents, teachers and students come together with a shared vision and purpose, schools can transform how young people experience the world. As the new Superintendent for Catholic Schools, I am honored to promote how the Catholic schools of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee offer hope, spread joy and transform the lives of students and families across southeastern Wisconsin.

With 101 schools and 26,000 students, Catholic education in Milwaukee is carrying the mission of the Church and proclaiming the glory of our God in proud and meaningful ways. Our schools are thriving in rural, urban and suburban settings, and new models of governance are emerging to sustain this mission for years to come. Across southeastern Wisconsin, our Catholic schools are vital, strong and prepared to shape the hearts, minds and souls of our next generation. By championing a commitment to prayer, liturgy and sacramental life, Catholic schools deepen our students’ relationship with Christ and strengthen our parishes and families.

I am a proud product of the Catholic schools of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, but my role as a Catholic school parent has been the most powerful experience of the impact of our schools. My children are challenged not just to achieve in the classroom but to ask themselves who is it that God is calling for them to become. The opportunity to grow in one’s faith as a teenager is an extraordinary gift of our Catholic schools. Exactly when our culture is influencing teens in all the worst ways, Catholic parish schools and our high schools are providing a formation in the faith when teens need it the most. Of course, students in Catholic schools excel in academics, win scholarships and participate in athletics, but they also pray the Rosary, attend Mass, go on retreat and come to encounter Jesus in their own life.

My oldest daughter will be a senior at Dominican High School this fall. Reflecting the Dominican charism as the Order of Preachers, my daughter joined the school’s Veritas Preaching Team. This team of teenage preachers are trained to share the good news of the Gospel with their high school peers. Last year, at an all-school Mass, I witnessed my 17-year-old daughter share a post-Mass reflection on how the Gospel challenges her to become a faithful disciple of Christ. Speaking in front an assembly of hundreds would challenge most adults, yet I saw my daughter publicly share her love for Christ’s call to live a life of service and hope. The Veritas Preachers at Dominican, and countless other campus ministry programs across our Catholic high schools, serve as energetic examples of the impact that faith and prayer has in our Catholic schools.

The schools of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee embrace a distinctly Catholic worldview and help to grow the ministries of our parishes. By leading with optimism, creativity and joy, school leaders and teachers advance the mission of Catholic Church and add a youthful vibrancy to the life of our parishes. Effective Catholic school communities support parents in their efforts to build a loving and faithful Christian family. Very simply, the Catholic schools of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee reflect the glory that is our God.

As the new school year starts this month, if you are asked, “Why did your family make the decision to send your children or grandchildren to Catholic schools?” I hope you answer with the same excitement and enthusiasm as a group of teenage preachers, and together we can all preach the good news of what is happening in our Catholic schools.