WASHINGTON—National Catholic Schools Week 2018 (CSW) will be observed in dioceses around the country January 28–February 3. This year’s theme, “Catholic Schools: Learn. Serve. Lead. Succeed.,” focuses on the important spiritual, academic and societal contributions provided by a Catholic education.
As Bishop George V. Murry, SJ, of Youngstown, Ohio, chairman of the U. S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Committee on Catholic Education said, “Catholic schools provide an invaluable service to young people, their families, and our nation by helping to form women and men with the sharp intellects, broad perspectives and big hearts who bring their best to communities near and far. Jesus Christ came to change hearts and to serve – one person at a time – and so Catholic schools invite students to encounter Christ, to be changed by Him, and love God by serving others with all of their heart, mind, soul and strength.”
One way Catholic school students have been challenged to “learn, serve, lead and succeed” this academic year has been through the National Catholic Educational Association’s (NCEA) “Student to Student” campaign. In August, NCEA began a national campaign that invited Catholic school families to donate at least $1 toward the “Student to Student: A Catholic School Response to Hurricane Harvey” campaign to help those Catholic school communities hardest hit by the events in the United States, the Caribbean and U.S. territories. The campaign was eventually renamed “Student to Student: A Catholic School Response to Hurricane Relief 2017” to include those that followed Harvey and the wildfires in the west. As of last month, 826 Catholic schools from across the country donated more than $600,000 to this solidarity effort. 300 students at Lumen Christi High School in the Archdiocese of Anchorage, for example, put on a taco lunch and raised more than $900. NCEA has begun the process of disbursing funds to Catholic arch/dioceses affected by recent natural disasters, beginning with the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston.
Nearly 1.9 million students are currently educated in 6,429 Catholic schools in cities, suburbs, small towns and rural communities around the country. Students receive an education that prepares them for higher education, a competitive work environment, and most importantly, living a Christian life of virtue in a challenging society. “Since their founding in our country, Catholic schools have provided a well-rounded education to disadvantaged families, new arrivals to America and to all who seek a seat in our schools. We have always sought to welcome families of all backgrounds while maintaining our principles and teaching in a spirit of charity,” Bishop Murry said.
The observance of CSW began in 1974. Schools and parishes around the country will hold activities such as Masses, open houses, and pot luck gatherings to celebrate the communities they represent. The week also highlights the educational and community successes of Catholic schools nationwide. Ninety nine percent of students graduate from high school and 86 percent of Catholic school graduates attend college. This percentage has been consistent over the past 20 years.
More information on the Committee on Catholic Education and other resources are available online: www.usccb.org/beliefs-and-teachings/how-we-teach/catholic-education/ and www.NCEA.org/csw. Catholic Schools Week can also be followed on Twitter @USCCBCatholicEd, @NCEATalk, and throughout social media via #CSW18.