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By: Carrie Jane Williamson, Associate Superintendent of Schools, Diocese of Savannah  // Mercy Musings Blog 

Those who understand the true value of a Catholic education realize that it reaches far beyond its costs.  It is a return on investment, not just for the faith, families and the greater Church, but also for our communities and the world.

With a primary existence rooted in the passing along of the Catholic faith, historically, Catholic schools have been synonymous with traditional characteristics of excellence in education, producing academically sound, character-conscious, and emotionally-mature students with spiritual fortitude and strong moral convictions ready to lead the next generation into business, politics and discovery.  There is no doubt that Catholic schools provide children with an invaluable opportunity to expand their knowledge, explore their passions, create community, strengthen their sense of self and come to know God all in one place.

For Catholic schools, these successes are not the only and arguably not the most important outcomes that define an exceptional education.  Often, we fail to promote the value of one of our greatest successes –  Catholic schools as sacred places, serving important civic purposes, and developing loving and productive citizens who care about their communities. Studies show that the emphasis Catholic schools place on service produces students who are more civically engaged, more likely to vote, more tolerant of diverse views, more committed to service as adults, and more philanthropic.

Matthew 23:11 reads, “The greatest among you will be your servant.” Simply translated, we are called to the service of others.  In the Diocese of Savannah, Catholic school students completed 670 service hours PER MONTH in 2019. Service projects help students discover how they can make a difference in our world by leading and building relationships with the least favored. For some of those least favored, those students may be the only “saints-next-door” they will ever encounter. Our students discover their greatest potential is not reflected simply by high test scores, but at the intersection of their God-given gifts, the desire to learn, and in service to others.

As we prepare to celebrate National Catholic Schools Week 2020, Catholic schools in the Macon/Warner Robins area continue to demonstrate their civic duty and call to service by partnering to pack nearly 500 bags of everyday essentials for the homeless.  Volunteers will keep the packed bags in their cars ready to be of service when they encounter one of the community’s least favored.  I challenge you to ask yourself, “Have I fulfilled my civic and service responsibilities?”

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Mount de Sales Academy is a private Catholic school located in Macon, GA, and serves students in Bibb, Houston, Jones, Monroe, Peach and other surrounding counties.  MDS is sponsored and inspired by the Sisters of Mercy. Since 1876, MDS has served a diverse college-preparatory community of learners—students and teachers alike—who are poised to discover, challenged to innovate, and motivated to serve.