As chaplain of St. John Paul II Catholic Preparatory School in northeast Minneapolis, Father Kevin Finnegan oversees spiritual life, trying to foster a Catholic environment among staff and students. Father Finnegan, pastor of Our Lady of Grace in Edina, which also has a school, says being involved in Catholic education is one of the highlights of being a priest. The sister schools share a fruitful spiritual and financial bond.
At Our Lady of Grace, Father Finnegan is involved in the school advisory committee and works in close quarters with staff and students.
“[I] try to visit classrooms and see how folks are doing, ask questions, hang out with the kids before and after school, go to the lunch room, get the kids all riled up and then leave. That’s always fun,” he said.
He believes his fatherly presence among students is a witness to the journey to Christ that Catholic education wishes to fulfill. On top of being a constant encourager, Father Finnegan often reminds students to pray the Lord’s Prayer every day. He wants students to know, “that I am their pastor, their father, and … that I want to be with them, walk with them on their good days and their bad days.”
Father Finnegan urges Catholics to “promote Catholic schools in a way that says they’re about shaping our future, and by shaping our future, we are actually shaping our now, because our children are part of our now.”
His hope for Catholic education is that it will encourage all to live knowing Jesus not only as a historical figure, but also as “one who is alive today in my life, and part of who I am.”