How 7 Faithfully Catholic Schools Celebrate Catholic Schools Week
It’s Catholic Schools Week! Which means it's time to celebrate the extraordinary mission of educating children to joyfully pursue faith, wisdom, and virtue. While some schools are marking the occasion with 'crazy hair day' or 'wacky socks day,' others are using the opportunity to immerse their communities in the rich intellectual and sacramental traditions of the Church.
Catholic Schools Week begins at Sunday Mass, where the people pray in a special way for flourishing Catholic schools; many students wear their uniforms to church that day to remind us of the gift of Catholic education.
Here's how seven faithfully Catholic schools are celebrating Catholic Schools Week:
1. St. Teresa Catholic School in Lincoln, Nebraska, led by Sr. Mary Cecilia, C.K. will have a Eucharistic procession in their school building and Pastor Fr. Jamie Hottovy will bring Jesus Himself into every classroom. Then the children and teachers will process with Him into St. Teresa Church for Benediction.
2. St. James Catholic School in Crete, Nebraska, led by Sr. Mary Alma, C.K., has developed the theme of “Our Family Roots” to carry through the entire week. Each day, students will hear Old Testament stories that demonstrate God's plan through Salvation History. Throughout the week, students will learn the story of their heritage that teaches them who they are and encourages them to seek what God is calling them to be.
3. At Holy Child Catholic School in Tijeras, New Mexico, students will be invited to dress in honor of one of the works of art displayed in the main hallway of the school. Principal Janice Martinez and her team have carefully selected these pieces for their beauty and how they represent the various periods of human history. On “Romulus and Remus Day,” students will choose a “twin” and dress alike. On another day, they will dress in white and bring in the date of their Baptism and one fact about their rebirth as a child of God.
4. Mrs. Cyril Cruz of Holy Innocents School in Long Beach, California, will put her eighth grade students to work in the classroom this week, when eighth graders will design and lead lessons for younger students. Completing this exercise is an honor for these students—and it’s also a catalyst for a deeper appreciation for what their teachers do for them every day.
5. St. Rita Catholic School in Alexandria, Virginia, led by Mrs. Bethany Hamm, was founded by the Sisters of Saint Joseph, and until recently always had a sister on the faculty. The Sisters are currently in retirement at the St. Joseph Villa in Philadelphia. This week, St. Rita
students will make Valentines for the Villa and send a basket full of love to these Sisters whose dedicated service helped their school thrive.
6. At St. Agatha Academy in Winchester, Kentucky, school leader Deacon Ron Allen and 4th grade teacher Kate Blair and faculty will lead students in an immersive experience of getting to know St. Elizabeth Ann Seton. The children will “meet” St. Elizabeth—a teacher dressed up as the Saint—and see the sights of her New York home replicated in their school: from little Italy (with images of favorite Italian saints) to skyscrapers and theater billboards. Mrs. Blair describes the festivities as “holy fun!”
7. Speaking of fun, St. John Bosco Schools of East Rochester, New York, led by Mrs. Laurie Collins, will celebrate their patron saint’s feast day on January 31st. St. John Bosco told his students: “Work when it’s time to work; pray when it’s time to pray; study when it’s time to study; play when it’s time to play.” On this feast day, middle school students will design and host games for the children in the lower grades in a St. John Bosco winter carnival.
The schools highlighted above are a part of the Institute for Catholic Liberal Education's network of 150 member schools. For more ideas about how to celebrate the beautiful mission of Catholic education at your school, check out this year's Catholic Schools Week Inspiration Page!
Colleen Richards is the Director of School Services for the Institute of Catholic Liberal Education. She leads teacher training and school advising efforts around the country. After 17 years of classroom teaching in a variety of Catholic elementary and high schools, she spent 8 years as the second headmaster of St. John Bosco Schools in East Rochester, New York. Colleen led the school’s adoption of the St. Jerome Academy Educational Plan, training teachers and growing the school to double its size. In 2014, she led the opening of Chesterton Academy of Rochester as part of the new Chesterton Schools Network, making the institution an option for a complete Catholic education for students from Pre-K through twelfth grade.