Since 1974, National Catholic Schools Week, Jan. 31 – Feb. 6, is the annual celebration of Catholic education in the United States. The theme for National Catholic Schools Week 2021 is “Catholic Schools: Faith. Excellence. Service.” Schools typically observe the annual celebration week with Masses, open houses and other activities for students, families, parishioners and community members. Through these events, schools focus on the value Catholic education provides to young people and its contributions to the Church, communities and the nation.
In his Jan. 29 Living the Truth in Love column, Bishop Gerald M. Barbarito expressed how the role of Catholic schools has become more vital as the world faces increasingly more challenging times.
“Catholic schools make an impressively positive contribution to the life of the Church and to American society,” the bishop said. “At a time when we are losing so many of the fundamental values which are at the heart of the human family, Catholic schools continue to play an irreplaceable role instilling these values.”
He expressed further that a Catholic school education “benefits the individual who receives it in every part of their life. The student comes into daily contact with a faith environment that permeates the academic subjects taught and the social activities of school life. Religion is not just another subject in the curriculum and prayer is not only a routine to begin and end the school day. Faith and prayer are part of the very fabric of a Catholic school’s atmosphere.”
Gary Gelo, superintendent of schools of the Diocese of Palm Beach, built upon these sentiments in reflecting on this year’s National Catholic Schools Week.
“While the pandemic has caused many changes in our lives, the reasons to celebrate our Catholic Schools remain the same. Our schools provide a rigorous academic program rooted in our Catholic faith. In addition, we help to develop character and values in our young people. Despite social distancing, our schools are still communities of families coming together and sharing Gospel values,” Gelo said.
Gelo was also quick to give credit to the educators, administrators and staff at the diocesan schools who have “continued to find ways, sometimes new and different than in the past, to challenge our students and help them achieve at high levels. We have had to sacrifice many social aspects of our schools for more distant interaction but, we are working hard to keep schools as normal as we can, given the necessary precautions.”
To learn more about National Catholic Schools Week and access resources on the week’s daily themes, prayers and videos, visit ncea.org/csw/Home_Page/CSW/Catholic_Schools_Week.aspx.
Stay connected with the Office of Catholic Schools of the Diocese of Palm Beach online at diocesepbschools.org. For updates on the 18 diocesan Catholic schools, follow the office on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter @DoPBCatholicSchools.