Faith, intellect converge

WASHINGTON - Every year at Archbishop Carroll High School in Washington, a group of peer ministers selected from the student body selects two important aspects of scholarship to talk about at prayer time during National Catholic Schools Week.

This year they celebrated the "importance of intellect" and its relationship to a strong faith life, said Divine Word Father George Kintiba, a campus minister who accompanied students to a special Mass Jan. 29 in the Crypt Church at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.

When faith and intellect do not "oppose each other," but rather are brought together, they can help all "to come to know God better," he told Catholic News Service.

The Mass, broadcast live by the Eternal Word Television Network, was sponsored by The Catholic University of America, the Dominican House of Studies and the National Catholic Educational Association for this year's Catholic Schools Week, observed Jan. 27-Feb. 2.

The Mass of St. Thomas Aquinas, which is traditionally celebrated annually by the Catholic University community, happened to fall during National Catholic Schools Week this year, said university spokeswoman Catherine Lee.

The special week is an "opportunity to celebrate Catholic schools," said Christian Brother Robert Bimonte, NCEA's executive vice president.

The "emphasis (is) on joy, celebration, and on the privilege of being able to attend Catholic school," he said.

The theme chosen for this year's National Catholic Schools Week was "Catholic Schools Raise the Standards," celebrating the "constant attention that Catholic educators pay to increasing the learning and growth in faith of all students," said NCEA's website.

"Christians are called to radiate the word of truth that the Lord Jesus has left us," said celebrant and homilist, Dominican Father Brian Martin Mulcahy, prior provincial, quoting Pope Benedict XVI's 2011 apostolic letter "Porta Fidei" ("The Door of Faith").

The conjoining of faith and intellect was a theme expressed by Brother Bimonte as integral to the mission of the NCEA, which as its website says is a professional education representing 200,000 Catholic educators who serve 7.6 million students in Catholic elementary and secondary schools, in religious education programs, in seminaries, and in colleges and universities.

"As Christian men and women of today, we must equip ourselves with a thorough knowledge and profound understanding of the teachings of our faith," Father Mulcahy continued. "Parents point to the tabernacle and instruct their young children, 'Jesus is in there.' These acts of faith on our part serve to ground us more firmly in all the truths of our Catholic faith."

Classes at Catholic University were adjusted to allow for students to attend the Mass, said Andrew Larson, a sophomore at the university and a seminarian at the Blessed John Paul II Seminary of the Washington Archdiocese.

At the beginning of the Mass, elementary and high school age children led the procession, followed by a Dominican choir; faculty from Catholic University and its president, John Garvey; and a number of priests.

The words of the last song seemed to underscore the purpose of Catholic education in America in its formation of youths as "true apostles, faithful prophets, saints who set their world a-blaze, martyrs once unknown, unheeded, join one growing song of praise."

© Arlington Catholic Herald 1970