Every Catholic is called to pass on our faith (cf. Matthew 28:19) and to be a witness to the message of Christ. This means all of us have a responsibility to support Catholic education for our youth and for future generations. Catholic identity is intrinsic to our schools and the reason for their success, although children of other faiths are welcome.
The need for Catholic identity and Catholic education now is clear. We live in an increasingly materialistic and secular world. Our youth must be grounded in their knowledge of the authentic teaching of the Church so they can live full, happy and holy lives in Christ. We face economic realities as we seek to provide academically excellent and affordable Catholic schools to as many youth as possible. And, we recognize many parents themselves did not receive a sufficient understanding of the faith and are looking to the Church to help them pass on the faith to their children.
The work of encountering Christ and sharing his love and the story of his good news with others unfolds in a special way every day at the 98 Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of Washington. All students are continuously encouraged to make a difference by serving their community through independent volunteer work and school-sponsored service, such as making sandwiches for the homeless, working with the disabled or aiding emergency relief efforts.
Beginning in the 2011-2012 school year, the new religion curriculum guide, Forming Disciples for the New Evangelization, was implemented at parishes and schools. The guide is structured around the four pillars of the Catechism of the Catholic Church: Catholic identity, academic excellence, accessibility and affordability. The religion curriculum standards that students will be taught each year, in order to deepen their knowledge in those areas, include the Creed, Sacred Scripture, the sacraments, liturgy, conscience, Christian living, prayer, the Catholic Church, ecumenism, Catholic principles and relationships, vocations, Catholic social teaching, inter-religious dialogue, and the missionary vocation to evangelize others. The curriculum has a spiral scope, meaning that topics are revisited and examined in a deeper way each year.