January 30th – February 5th marks the 36th annual Catholic Schools Week celebration, which provides an opportunity to pay tribute to the value of Catholic education in parishes, the community and the nation. Catholic schools celebrate the week with prayer, community service and special activities.
In a letter to Catholic educators and staff serving in the Diocese of Raleigh, Most Reverend Michael F. Burbidge expressed his gratitude to “countless individuals who give of their time, talent, and treasure in order to bring Catholic education to our young people. I am profoundly grateful,” the Bishop wrote, “ to all who work so diligently to provide our young people with the opportunity to attend a Catholic school.”
Bishop Burbidge will begin Catholic Schools Week with the celebration of Mass at the Franciscan School in Raleigh at 10:00 AM on Monday, January 31. Following Mass, the Bishop will dedicate St. Francis Catholic Church's newest building, the Siena Center for Lifelong Learning. He will then visit with students and teachers and the staff of the school and the parish during the day. On Friday, Bishop Burbidge will celebrate Mass at St. Michael the Archangel School in Cary at 10:00 AM, at which time the school will receive special recognition for being honored as a Blue Ribbon School of Excellence Award winner. (See story.)
The Diocese of Raleigh has 32 educational facilities in its 54 counties, including two Diocesan high schools: Cardinal Gibbons High School in Raleigh with 1224 students and the newly established Pope John Paul II High School in Greenville with a freshmen class of 23 students. There are 22 elementary/middle schools K-8th with 6,893 students enrolled and an additional 844 children enrolled in eight early childhood centers.
“Catholic schools are unique in that they provide our students the opportunity to pray, worship, and learn more about our rich Catholic faith on a daily basis,” said Dr. Michael J. Fedewa, Diocesan Superintendant of Catholic Formation and Evangelization. “This formation, coupled with academic excellence is a proven formula for success in our society.”
The theme for the 2011 Catholic Schools Week is “Catholic Schools: A+ for America.” The theme and logo illustrate the fact that Catholic schools are an added value for the nation, and that due to high academic standards, graduates make significant contributions to American society. It emphasizes six key elements; Catholics Schools: A+ In Our Parish, In Our Community, In Our Students, In Our Nation, In Our Vocations and In Our Faculty, Staff and In Our Volunteers.
Among the activities taking place at Catholic schools in the Diocese:
- Annunciation School in Havelock will kick off the week at Sunday Mass. Students wear their uniforms to Mass and will distribute cookies and thank-you notes to parishioners.
- St. Egbert School in Morehead City is planning an Ecumenical Prayer Service in honor of all faiths in their community.
- St. Mary Magdalene School in Apex has invited 25 graduates from their first four graduating classes to join in their celebration with middle school students. They will participate in round table discussions about high school experiences and successes.
- St. Ann School in Fayetteville will honor the nation with an “All American” Chorus concert followed by a Mayoral Proclamation.
- St. Catherine of Siena School in Wake Forest will welcome priests to the classrooms to read, “What Does a Priest Do?” and “What Does a Nun Do?” to the children during their lunch periods.
- St. Michael the Archangel School in Cary will honor their faculty with a special gift in appreciation for the way they clarify and strengthen Catholic identity.
- Sacred Heart School in Raleigh will host a 1:1 laptop program on Feb. 3, showcased by 5th grade. The program is the first of its kind for elementary school students in the Diocese.
- St. Peter School in Greenville faculty will provide breakfast to their volunteers. The students are planning to decorate the cafeteria with posters depicting their gratitude to all the volunteers.
“I am grateful to our dedicated pastors, principals, directors, teachers, and staff for their steadfast commitment to this ideal,” Dr. Fedewa said. “I am also thankful for the parents, grandparents, and guardians who sacrifice so much to make Catholic education a reality for their children.”