There is no doubt in my mind that one of the treasures of my country -Chile- are Catholic schools, which, in addition to educating children and young people in various subjects, are a school for the faith.
In the almost ten years that I have been chaplain of a women's school in Chile, classes have been given to hundreds of students who are preparing to receive the sacraments of Penance, First Communion and Confirmation. Their parents also receive classes, with the aim of internalizing their children's faith and supporting them in their Christian life. Rodrigo and Maria told me that doing the Religion homework with their children has been a great catechesis, because they have learned things that have made them feel alive, something they would not have discovered otherwise.
During the most intense period of the pandemic by Covid, when the Chilean schools were closed for a year, classes were implemented through the internet. During that period, in order not to lose contact with the parents and students, I sent them a brief video message every two weeks through the school's website, encouraging them to maintain some practices of piety in the family. Even though the temples were very restricted for a long time, we encouraged the families to keep up their Christian practice.
In the time following the restrictions of the pandemic, we noticed that there were many parents who had not had their children baptized. When we spoke with them and raised this concern, several recognized that this sacrament had been postponed and expressed their interest in receiving the necessary classes and having their children baptized.
In other cases, the children had been baptized in a non-Catholic Christian denomination, and as they got to know our faith better, they decided to incorporate them fully into the Catholic Church, discovering the richness of belonging to it. Luis and Daniela, Jacob and Sofia, are happy with the step their children took.
Paulette, a senior, was baptized last year, and her younger siblings did the same shortly after. Alejandra, in her junior year, is also preparing for this sacrament. I was struck to hear from someone close to her that, since she began to know the faith, she has become a much more open and happy young woman.
There are also parents who have not received the sacrament of marriage and express their interest in training to receive it. Antonio and Alejandra, for example, are grateful to have received the sacrament, with the support of a Catholic couple, Julian and Carmen, who helped them in their preparation.
Throughout the year we deliver religious objects (holy water, crucifix, New Testament, image of the Virgin Mary and the guardian angel). It has been a wonderful opportunity to explain the meaning of these objects and how to make use of them, as well as to catechize and awaken piety in the family.
I am happy to hear from parents of former students that Catholic education has left a mark on them that is difficult to erase, in a world where faith is threatened, and a good dose of courage and conviction is needed.