Bishop Burbidge calls homeschool families a gift to the Church

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Bishop Michael F. Burbidge thanked hundreds of homeschoolers and their parents for the gift that they are to the church during the second annual Mass for Homeschool Families at Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Gainesville Oct. 19. In the reception that followed, families had the opportunity to talk with him and to receive his blessing.

“Dear parents thank you so much for taking seriously that responsibility of being the first teachers of the faith,” Bishop Burbidge said in his homily. 

He also thanked them for their perseverance.

“You may not always see the visible and immediate results that you want as homeschool teachers, but you can be assured that the seeds you are planting, God will use miraculously. Thank you for the gift you are to the diocese and to our church,” Bishop Burbidge said.

Throughout the day, organizers of the event and parents expressed their gratitude for his presence.

“It really shows the commitment of the Bishop to Catholic education. Whether it is in the schools or in recognizing the importance of the homeschooling community, in both ways he supports parents as the primary educators of their children,” said Diocesan Superintendent of Schools Jennifer Bigelow.

Mary Beth Balent, a homeschooling parent of six children, was thrilled about the Mass.

“I was so excited that Bishop Burbidge wanted to offer a Mass for homeschoolers,” said Balent, a key organizer for this year’s event as well as last year’s. “It is just great to have the support and prayers from him. I was eager to jump in and help organize the outdoor activities for the kids after the Mass.”

In the reception that followed, families talked with the Bishop while younger children watched a puppet show and their older peers played dodge ball, hula- hooped and tested out the moon bounce.

Also present at the reception was Rosario Reilly, founder of Aquinas Learning, a hybrid homeschool program that continues to draw parents to the area. Students meet once a week at the Manassas Center, which currently has 133 homeschool students. For the four remaining weekdays they "homeschool" and review what they learned on that school day, Thursday.

“Essentially it is a curriculum for homeschoolers. The bottom line is to teach them classically and to instill a sense of wonder,” Reilly said. “Thursday is a full day of school: they are in uniform, participating in Socratic discussions and classical education that all point toward truth, goodness and beauty.”

The first graduating class matriculated last year. It was a class of three: one student attends Benedictine College in Kansas, another the University of Navarra in Spain and the third goes to Villanova University in Pennsylvania.

Ginette Tellado, whose three children participate in Aquinas Learning, said that it was a major factor for her and her husband to move from Queens in New York to Gainesville.

“In New York City, we just knew that homeschooling was going to be the way to go for our children, especially for them to keep their faith strong,” Tellado said. “Manassas is actually the headquarters of Aquinas Learning program and we moved here primarily for that.”

 

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2018