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Bishop Marks Catholic Schools Week with Visit to St. Francis

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Catholic Schools in the Diocese of Raleigh began celebrating Catholic Schools Week on Monday, January 31. This year’s theme is “Catholic Schools: A+ for America,” reflecting the fact that Catholic schools are an added value for the nation, and that because of their schools’ high academic standards, graduates make significant contributions to American society.

The Most Reverend Michael F. Burbidge marked the beginning of Catholic Schools Week with a day-long visit to The Franciscan School and St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Raleigh. The Bishop celebrated Mass for the school community in the morning. In his homily, Bishop Burbidge engaged the students, asking them to reflect and comment on “Our Gifts, Our Call, Our Mission,” which is the theme of the 2011 Bishop’s Annual Appeal. He explained how they relate to each student. He also asked them to share what makes The Franciscan School special, especially as it pertains to service to the community. Noting their eager responses, Bishop Burbidge told the students how proud he was of them and asked them to thank their parents and teachers with applause.

Following Mass he joined Father Mark Reamer, O.F.M., Pastor of St. Francis; Father John O’Connor, O.F.M. Provincial; the St. Francis Franciscan Friars and guests and proceeded to the dedication of the parish’s new Siena Center for Life-long Learning. The Siena Center houses The Franciscan School’s middle school, and also serves as a venue for faith formation events for all ages throughout the week. After blessing the Center’s cornerstone, Bishop Burbidge blessed each classroom and its students. He then visited with students in all K-8 classes and the St. Francis Pre-school.

Bishop Burbidge had lunch with the parish pastoral leadership and then took part in a presentation by the U.S. Green Council of Gold, awarding special recognition to St. Francis for its construction of three environmentally-conscious buildings, including the new Center. (Story on award forthcoming.) The Bishop concluded his visit to St. Francis with a prayer and meeting with children enrolled in Faith Formation at the parish and a meeting with the Total Youth Ministry.

The Bishop's visit to St. Francis began with Mass for TFS students (above). In attendance were Dr. Michael J. Fedewa, Diocesan Superintendent of Catholic Formation and Education, and Rosalie Innacelli, Assistant Diocesan Superintendent of Schools.