WASHINGTON—National Catholic Schools Week 2016 will be observed in dioceses around the country, January 31-February 6. This year’s theme, “Catholic Schools: Communities of Faith, Knowledge and Service,” focuses on the important faith-building, academic and societal contributions provided by a Catholic education.
“Catholic schools are a vital aspect of the Church’s mission to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ and so an important aspect of our own teaching mission,” said Archbishop George J. Lucas of Omaha, Nebraska, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Catholic Education. He noted that Pope Francis reminded Catholic educators at the World Congress held in Rome in November to know the spiritual and corporal works of mercy and to offer them to students in Catholic schools as practical examples of how to live the Gospel. “By teaching the Good News of the Gospel, Catholic educators guide our students to Jesus Christ and his healing mercy,” Archbishop Lucas said.
About 1.9 million students are currently educated in nearly 6,600 Catholic schools around the country. Students receive an education that prepares them for higher education, a competitive work environment, but most importantly, living a Christian life of virtue in a challenging society. “We want our students to keep their eyes fixed on eternity which is the ultimate goal of a complete education,” said Archbishop Lucas.
Archbishop Lucas added that the backbone of Catholic education is the relationship between the parent, the school and the Church – each doing a part to provide an educational environment that keeps Christ at the center of each child’s life within a challenging and nurturing educational setting. “Catholic schools partner with families to provide a quality faith-filled education for children. At this time in society, elevating the rights and duties of parents and families is a critical ministry in the Church,” he said.
The observance of Catholic Schools Week 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 around the county. One example is that an estimated 98 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.