Seventy years ago the parishioners of the newly established parish of St. Bartholomew the Apostle Church in Scotch Plains recognized a need to provide a Catholic education for their children and those in the surrounding community.
Catholic schools in America began because parents and Church leaders wanted to make sure that children receive the best in human and religious formation. The St. Bartholomew community wanted that opportunity here. Since then, Catholic schools have educated millions of children and inspired what is best in our society. As we reflect on society today, one can readily see the need and relevance of Catholic education.
It was almost 15 years ago that I became Pastor of St. Bartholomew the Apostle Church. St. Bartholomew Academy, or Interparochial School, as it was known then, welcomed me with genuine warmth. I was thrilled to be assigned to a Church that also had a thriving school.
Over the course of my years at St. Bartholomew’s I have witnessed the impact Catholic education has on every child and family that attends our school. Catholic Education is more than religious formation with academics thrown in. It is a unique way to teach children to be curious about the world around them, challenge them to grow and discover their gifts, and nurture their faith. On the grammar school level, the idea of taking care of the whole child, or cura persoanlis, is fundamental.
In a Catholic grammar school, children learn that to “do the math” means more than get the correct answer, it means to count your blessings. When students ask, “Why did God make me?” they learn about the cells that make up their bodies, the rock formations in the Earth’s crust, and that because we are stewards of this Earth we responsible for all of God’s creation. Teachers in Catholic schools are true partners in education, and parents know that when they drop their child off in the morning, their child’s mind will be challenged, their spirit will be nourished, and that child will be loved as a child of God regardless of race, creed, color, or faith.
While the look of Catholic education has changed over time, with grammar schools offering more programs to their students such as STEM/STEAM, forensics, social-emotional learning, the mission remains the same. We encourage children to strive for their maximum academic potential and spiritual growth. That mission is alive and well at St. Bartholomew Academy, and we are looking forward to serving this community for another 70 years.
Father John Paladino
Pastor, St. Bartholomew the Apostle Church
Scotch Plains, NJ