• GENESEE COUNTY CATHOLIC SCHOOLS

» “Be Ready!”

Anyone who attended a Powers athletic event in the last four decades will likely recall a booming voice leading a number of cheers, one of the most frequently repeated being, “Be Ready!” That voice belonged to Mr. Jack Goggins, who along with his wife Sally and their six children, have established and sustained a very high standard of commitment and support for Catholic education in Genesee County.

I’m pretty sure that in the context of cheering on a Powers team, Jack was encouraging individual and collective readiness to act, to react, to work together, and to be prepared for any challenges the opposing team may present. Being ready and prepared is an absolute necessity for success. Being ready is a way to demonstrate that a particular event or activity is important.

As a coach, I sometimes would sense a lack of individual or collective effort and enthusiasm in practice, and occasionally, in games. In those instances, I recall “counseling” the players to re- discover the importance of what we were doing, or find an alternative activity (like sewing or cross stitch) that meant more to them. I do regret the sarcasm, but I was trying to remind the team (and myself) that any and all activities that take up the finite and precious gift of time on this earth deserve our very best effort, as well as our enthusiasm, preparation and positive energy. When it comes to all discretionary activities, including our pastimes and our work, being anything but “ready” desecrates the gift of life.

Schools

Schools are in the “ready” business. Education is a means not an end and schools need to become much more intentional about preparing students to participate and contribute in a rapidly evolving world. The recent focus on college and career readiness is a good one. As a nation, we can no longer afford to dismiss the mediocre performance of American students compared to their international peers as being “skewed” or not “apples to apples” comparisons. There are legitimate reasons to be concerned that the norms for learning in our country do not provide our children with the security of knowing they will be ready to maintain the global leadership role our country has always occupied.

Our schools need to provide students with an education that meets or exceeds the highest world standards. Each student needs an excellent education that connects learning with the real world and challenges them to learn at their highest level. Our educational programs should assist students who are delayed in their learning to accelerate, and provide students who are advanced in their learning, opportunities to grow and excel.

Catholic Schools

Ultimately, we are preparing our children to be ready when we are gone. The first time we left our infant son Andrew with a baby-sitter, we made more preparations and contingency plans than FEMA. We were terrified about something happening, and not being there for our child.

Our children are now adults, and Carol and I have come to understand and accept that “something” will inevitably happen. Despite our best efforts, our children will be disappointed and hurt. They will receive mixed messages from a society that recognizes and even lauds many norms that are in opposition to our faith. At times, they will be made to think that they don’t fit. They may have to face unfairness, hardships and tragedies. They certainly will experience opposition to what they believe is right.

Whether it’s the first time being left with a baby-sitter or in our unavoidable passing, as parents we want to do everything humanly possible to form a faith in our children (and ourselves) that will sustain and comfort them in any eventuality. As Christ explains in Matthew’s Gospel, “For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life … Look at the birds of the air, they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them… Are you not worth much more than they?”

All too often, we hear of “well-educated” individuals, who despite being college and career ready, have nonetheless, lost their way, often causing great misery to themselves, their loved ones and others. Catholic Schools offer an opportunity for a complete education that supplements college ready and work ready, with a more important readiness – a readiness to know the Truth and an understanding that embracing the Truth will provide a basis for success and peace in this life, as well as the promise of eternal life.

What Could Be More Important?

If being “ready” is in fact a way of demonstrating that something is important, how could anything be more important than knowing our children will be secure now, when we are gone, and when they are called to eternal life?

If a year of Catholic education in our county is nothing more than helping students achieve another milestone, moving from one grade to the next, it is very likely not worth the resources it takes to operate our Catholic Schools. As the final preparations are being made for this school year, let’s pray that all concerned are heeding Jack Goggins’ cheer, and that the families and staff are ready to deliver and that our Catholic School students are ready to receive a year of excellent education and formation in our Faith.

Grace and peace to you all,

Bill Haley