Archbishop Jose H. Gomez of Los Angeles said that his recent virtual message to 2020 graduates – posted on YouTube and shared on social media – is “a sign of these unusual times” amid the coronavirus.
He said his prayer is that the class of 2020 “will be remembered as a heroic generation that used the gifts of a Catholic education to love and serve and build a better world at a time of national distress, when society had been turned upside down by a deadly pandemic and faced widespread uncertainty about the future.”
But he is praying for something else, too, he said: “that we can act to sustain the schools they graduated from, because right now Catholic schools are facing enormous challenges.”
Archbishop Gomez, who is president of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, made the comments in his weekly column, Voices, in Angelus News, the multimedia news platform of the Los Angeles Archdiocese.
He urged support for government aid to help to keep Catholic schools open.
Struck by the pandemic, several dioceses in the nation have announced closures at the end of the 2019-2020 academic year, according to USCCB education officials and leaders of the National Catholic Educational Association.
“If Catholic schools are allowed to fail in large numbers, it would cost public schools about $20 billion to absorb their students, a cost already-burdened public schools should not be made to bear,” Archbishop Gomez said.
“And the loss of Catholic schools would be an American tragedy. It would set back opportunities for generations of children living in low-income and inner-city neighbourhoods,” he added. “We cannot accept this outcome for America’s children.”
Picture: Meghan Cosgrove, assistant principal of Holy Angels Catholic School, takes a selfie with her students by a billboard advertising the new Mother Mary Lange Catholic School in Baltimore, expected to open for classes in 2021. Archbishop Jose H. Gomez of Los Angeles, president of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, is calling for government aid to help Catholic schools to prevent more closings. (CNS photo/Kevin J Parks, Catholic Review).