On behalf of the St. Francis Xavier Catholic School and Beckman Catholic High School Boards of Education, administrations, faculty and staff, I want to thank each of you in the area parishes and communities for your generous support of Catholic education. 

As many of you know, this week is the national celebration of Catholic Schools Week. Our theme this year is “Catholic Schools — Communities of Faith, Knowledge and Service.”

Education is one of the major missions of the Catholic church. Both the Pope and our archbishop acknowledge the importance of Catholic education as a part of all Catholic parishes’ responsibility and obligations.

The Pope has said, “We don’t educate students because they are Catholics, but because we are Catholics.” The Archdiocese of Dubuque currently has around 10,000 students K-12 enrolled in Catholic schools, with another 3,000 in pre-school. This alone saves local and state taxpayers over $10 million annually.

The area parishes have a proud history of supporting Catholic education. There is a reason that Beckman Catholic has been ranked as one of the top 50 Honor Roll Catholic Schools in the country. It’s the commitment and high expectation of the community that makes this happen. We truly have a gem with these two exceptional Catholic schools that needs to be preserved. 

Just this last year at Beckman Catholic, we completed a $7.4 million capital campaign to build upon our endowment and add much-needed updates and enhancement to our campus. You will soon see work this spring begin on the front of the school with a new chapel, offices and entranceway.

From a personal perspective, my wife, Beth, and I moved back to Dyersville in 2002 with our six kids for two distinct reasons — to be close to family (Beth is the daughter of Dick and Jean Mescher) and to take advantage of the incredible Catholic schools that are in this area.

We wanted our children to have a faith-based education. So far, all six of our children have attended St. Francis Xavier Catholic Elementary School, and four have attended and graduated from Beckman Catholic High School. Each has then gone on to college — Katie at the University of Iowa, Colleen at the University of Northern Iowa and Shannon at UNI and Allen School of Nursing. Currently, our fourth child Erin Delaney is a junior at Auburn University. I mention this as Erin, who was recently home over the holidays, thanked her mother and me for providing her with an outstanding education at Beckman Catholic.

You see, she had just transferred to Auburn, Ala., to pursue her dream in sports broadcast journalism. She was accepted into a very competitive program and moved to Auburn not knowing a soul and quickly has adjusted to life in the South. She told her mother and me that it was her time at Beckman Catholic that helped her make this adjustment both academically, spiritually and, yes, socially.

Erin will tell you that at Beckman Catholic she was challenged to not only succeed, but also thrive outside her comfort zone. As parents we could not ask for much more than that. Beth and I are very grateful and blessed for the Catholic education our children have and are receiving.

In closing, I want to once again, on behalf of the St. Francis Xavier Catholic School and Beckman Catholic High School community, say thank you to each of you at our area parishes for your steadfast support of Catholic education.