I’ve just returned from one of the best days of my life. Yesterday (Thursday), I celebrated the Mass and had lunch with some of the finest young people in our diocese at Newman Catholic Schools in Wausau.

Truth be told, my day at Newman was to be the finale of a weeklong diocesan funfest celebrating the annual national Catholic Schools’ Week. Due to sickness and weather I only had the chance to celebrate two major events marking this special time of the year.

First of all, to start Catholic Schools’ Week, I celebrated the Mass for the annual Brains and Brawn activities last Saturday. The events, academic and athletic, were conducted at the facilities of Aquinas Catholic Schools in La Crosse. The Mass was celebrated in a near full Cathedral of Saint Joseph the Workman. So many of our parents, teachers, and students were there. We celebrated brains and brawn, with Spirit and Life! And it became clear at the start of this Catholic Schools’ Week we were working to raise the standard (this year’s national theme) and seriously consider Catholic education as the standard of excellence in our lives.

Next, I was due at the Newman Center and Saint Joseph Parish in Menomonie on Sunday evening. I had to cancel due to a bad head cold courtesy of temperature changes from Bolivia to La Crosse. We will reschedule the evening at Stout. I look forward to spending time with some of the “big kids,” too.

Saint Mary’s Assumption, Durand; Saint Francis of Assisi, Ellsworth; and Saint Joseph, Menomonie, Catholic schools were on the docket for Monday. Alas, my cold and an ice storm prevented that celebration. We’re planning a rematch at this writing. Saint Mary’s in Tomah was to round out the week, but Wednesday’s blizzard put the kibosh on that one. Even though the roads were snow-covered, we made it to Wausau and I don’t think anyone was disappointed.

I am so proud of our Catholic schools. All seven systems are functioning at full throttle and doing well. All of our parish schools seem to be holding their own as well and fulfilling the mission of teaching as Jesus did!

Our schools cost a tremendous amount of money; and our parishes, assisted by the generous support of the Diocesan Annual Appeal (that’s you, too, folks) continue to scrape together the funds needed for operations and future growth. This is a wise investment – the investment in the Catholic education of our children. This investment is a value to our community at large; and, of course, an inestimable value to the future of our beloved Church.

I thank you from the bottom of my heart for your support, at whatever level, for our wonderful and essential Catholic Schools. Through them we raise the standard of living for all people!

Yes, I’ll see you at Sunday Mass.

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