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Commentary: Celebrating Catholic Schools Week

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Super Bowl 50 is surely destined to be an extravaganza like none other. Each year the annual clash of the best NFL teams generates both TV commercials and a halftime show that draw as much attention as the game itself.

In many ways Catholic Schools Week is the halftime event of the school year. It occurs in the final week of January and offers an opportunity to show the best of Catholic education. It’s not just what glitters in that week that matters; rather, it’s that the week highlights what happens in Catholic schools every day. (See the special section in this issue of The Dialog for stories on our schools.)

Catholic Schools Week kicks off with parish and school Masses and prayer services. Prayer is the heart of Catholic schools and sets the rhythm of each day. Students learn to pray formally and informally. They grow in understanding the devotions of the faith – Stations of the Cross, May procession, Benediction. Saints are celebrated as their feast days arrive on the liturgical calendar.

 The Jubilee Year of Mercy finds a special place in Catholic schools with a monthly emphasis on a parable from the Gospel of St. Luke. The heart of the Catholic school is a relationship with Jesus and students have a daily opportunity for faith formation.

Throughout Catholic Schools Week there are academic competitions in schools. These contests reflect the daily instruction that places Catholic schools at the top of lists, such as their SAT scores that annually exceed Delaware, Maryland, and national averages; the composite of SAT scores for the parish and diocesan high schools that place them ahead of all 22 public school districts in Delaware; and elementary standardized test results that place parish and diocesan schools well above the national norms.

Those Catholic school achievements are the results of academic programs of rigor and relevance which embed Catholic virtues in all subject areas. School partnerships with businesses, medical centers, universities, and other institutions connect learning and life. Technology expands students’ horizons of learning through 1:1 mobile devices, becoming an almost universal learning tool in all Catholic schools.

Often during Catholic Schools Week, students have the opportunity to “dress down” or “dress up” for a donation that supports the missionary activity of the schools. Throughout the year students provide life’s necessities – food, clothing, clean water, educational resources – to those nearby and around the world. Students support the good works of religious congregations, community groups, church organizations, and others so that the Beatitudes are not only learned but lived in the Catholic school.

The success of our students in Catholic schools occurs because of the commitment of parents, parishioners, and benefactors to the Gospel mission. Catholic Schools Week provides the venue to express gratitude to every supporter of Catholic education in the Diocese of Wilmington. Your prayers, time, talent, and treasure, shared so generously with our schools, are a great gift.

The upcoming Catholic Schools Week, Jan. 29 through Feb. 4, will be an all-out halftime celebration at this time of year of faith, knowledge, and service in the 36 preschools, elementary schools, and secondary schools of the Diocese of Wilmington.

Contact a local Catholic school for more information about Catholic education, to plan a visit, or to join in Catholic Schools Week events.

If I can assist you in any way about Catholic school education, please contact me (ldeangelo@cdow.org).

Lou De Angelo leads the Catholic Education Department of the Diocese of Wilmington.

 

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