Teach Your Children Well
In the United States today, there are 3 million, 700 thousand school teachers in grades K-12. That is more than all the doctors, lawyers, and engineers combined. Although teachers are often in the crossfire between rival interests they are essential to the fundamental need for one generation to pass on knowledge and experience to the next generation. Parents are the first teachers of their children in the ways of faith. Assisting them in this role, the Church shares the responsibility in the education of children.
As such, teaching is a vocation, a calling from God that forms the foundation of our human survival. Without parents, we would not exist; without teachers, we would live in fear and ignorance.
After the Fall of Rome in the 4th and 5th Centuries, the Catholic Church became the only source of formal education in Western Europe. And ever since, the Church has had a prominent role in the transmission of knowledge.
One of the highest titles the Church bestows on an individual is that of “Doctor of the Church”. Doctor in Latin means “teacher”. In all of history, only 35 men and women have been given that title. One of them was Teresa of Jesus, a Sixteenth Century nun from Avila in Spain. She was the patroness of our predecessor school and of our chapel on this campus. One of the other Doctors of the Church was the man whose Feast Day is today, Pope Saint Gregory the Great who lived in the late 6th Century. He is only one of two popes to have been called “the Great”. (The other was Pope St. Leo the Great).
In many countries, one’s name day is more important than one’s birth date. So I want to congratulate Gregory Daggett on his saint’s day. Today, Gregory, you may call yourself “The Great”. (In 1930, Gregory was the most popular boy’s name in America. Today, only one student out of 749 is named Gregory.)
It is fitting that we observe the 50th Anniversary of Bishop Kelly on the Feast Day of a great teacher of the Church.
Last weekend, I was in Reno, Nevada with our football team for what I call the “Battle of the Bishops”: Bishop Manogue High school vs. Bishop Kelly High School. You all know the results of that game. But I want to tell you how kind and welcoming the students, staff and parents of Bishop Manogue were to us. At a dinner they put on the evening before the game, I had an opportunity to speak with some of their players and parents. As a conversation opener, I asked who Bishop Manogue was. Not one player or parent knew. (He was, by the way, the first bishop of Sacraments.) After I sat down at the table with some of our players, I mentioned that no one at Bishop Manogue that I had talked to knew who Bishop Manogue was. One of our players said embarrassingly, “You know, I don’t know who Bishop Kelly was.” One of his teammates replied, “Wasn’t he the 3rd Bishop of Boise?” If I could remember that young man’s name, I would nominate him for Student of the Month every month.
Edward Joseph Kelly was born in the Walles, Oregon. He was educated for the priesthood in Menlo Park, California and in Rome. He earned two doctorates, one in philosophy and one in theology. He was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Baker City. At the age of 37, was named the 3rd Bishop of Boise, becoming the first priest in the Northwest to be a bishop.
Coincidentally, Bishop Kelly was born in 1890, the very year Idaho became a State and the same year St. Teresa’s Academy was founded as the first high school-public or private- in Boise.
Bishop Kelly was a kind and pleasant, reserved and dignified man whose primary concern was always about educating the Catholic youth of Idaho in their faith. He founded schools, mandated CCD classes in ever parish and even wrote a monthly newsletter called “Father John’s Correspondence Course” for families living in rural areas.
He lived in Boise on Idaho Street, just two blocks from St. Teresa’s Academy on Jefferson Street. Every evening, he would say his rosary as he walked around the block where St. Teresa’s stood.
St. Teresa’s closed in 1964, transitioning that same year to a different campus with a new name. It is a long-standing custom to name Catholic high schools after former bishops. Bishop Sylvester Treinen- the 5th Bishop of Boise- named the new school after his predecessor.
In its 50 years on this site, Bishop Kelly High School, like any family, has had its ups and downs. But it was survived and flourished.
Everyone knows that a school, public or private, cannot survive without financial support. Because they must support public schools with their taxes, our parents must pay a double price in sending their children to BK. That shows the confidence parents have in sending their children to Catholic school.
I mentioned earlier that education is the passing on of knowledge and experience from one generation to the next. Historically, that has always meant the elder generation to the younger. But, it works both ways. The old learn from the young and that dynamic may be greater today than it has ever been. For example, you students now a lot more about technology than most of the adults here today.
A few days ago, I was talking with 3 of our students about a television series I have never seen, and probably never will. It is in its 10th season and it is called “Supernatural”. One of the students told me I would not like this program. As a courtesy, he played the theme song from the program. I had to tell him, with all respect, that that music physically hurt me. He replied that I probably liked his dad’s kind of music. I asked what that might be and he said, seriously, “Metallica”. I’m flattered, but my kind of popular music goes way back before that.
Which brings me to my final reflection. One music group I liked as a young man was “Crosby, Stills, Nash and young.” I read to my surprise that they are going to be in Boise next week. I didn’t know they were still alive.
One of the group’s songs is called “Teach Your Children.” It has two verses: one directed to the elders and one directed to the youth.
I want to quo0te part of the lyrics written by Graham Nash in 1970:
“You who are on the road must have a code you can live by. . . Teach your children well . . . and feed them your dreams. . . Don’t you ever ask them why, if they told you, you would cry, so just look at them and sigh and know they love you. And you, of the tender years can’t know the fears that your elders grew by, and so please help them with your youth. . . teach your parents well . . . and feed them on your dreams . . . Wont you ever ask them why, if they told you, you would cry, So just look at them and sigh and know they love you.”