Schools gather to reflect on education

DeSales High School students knelt during the Archdiocese of Louisville’s annual Catholic Schools Week Mass Jan. 30 at St. Gabriel Church. National Catholic Schools Week is celebrated Jan. 28 to Feb. 3. This year’s theme is “Catholic Schools: Learn. Serve. Lead. Succeed.” (Record Photo by Jessica Able)

By Jessica Able, Record Staff Writer

Dioceses around the country marked National Catholic Schools Week (CSW) Jan. 28 to Feb. 3 with special events, liturgies and activities.

The centerpiece of the local celebration was a Mass held at St. Gabriel Church, 5505 Bardstown Road. Each school was invited to send representatives to the annual liturgy.

The theme of the national week recognizing schools is “Catholic Schools: Learn. Serve. Lead. Succeed.”

Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz celebrated the liturgy and invited students to demonstrate gratitude for Catholic education and those who make it possible.

“It’s a time for us to say thank you to God, to say thank you for the gift of the Catholic school you are a part of and thank you for the sacrifice your parents and so many others make on your behalf,” he said.

Archbishop Kurtz recalled Pope Francis’ Easter homily last year in which he said Jesus Christ is the cornerstone of our existence.

A cornerstone “has to be set with great deliberation,” the archbishop said. “If you are off by an inch or a degree or two it can ruin a whole building. Once you put a cornerstone down …

all the other bricks are lined up with it.” 

He noted that some distractions may “move that stone off,” including three temptations Jesus experienced in the desert: popularity, possession and power.

“Anybody who makes the foundation stone of their life — the cornerstone — into what I would call the distractions of power, popularity or possession, their building is going to be off for the rest of their lives.

“That’s why it’s so important that Jesus Christ is the cornerstone,” he said.

Archbishop Kurtz also urged the students gathered to remember that each person is “created in God’s image and likeness” and has “dignity that can’t be taken away from us.”

“Dignity is also a task. … Dignity is something that you and I also need to live up to. That’s why Catholic school is so central in your life,” he said.

Shaye Karem, left, a student at St. Michael School, and Emma Seger a student at St. Edward School, carried the gifts at the Catholic Schools Week liturgy Jan. 30 at St. Gabriel Church.

He asked the students to “pray for one another that together you will build up the body of Christ within your school.”

At the conclusion of the liturgy several archdiocesan awards were presented to educators and one volunteer. They are:

  • Dr. Cynthia Crabtree, president of Sacred Heart Schools, received the Distinguished Catholic School Leader Award.
  • Teresa Roberts, a teacher at Presentation Academy, was named the Father Joseph McGee Outstanding Catholic Educator. She will receive the award at the Salute to Catholic School Alumni dinner on March 14.
  • Mary Ann Hall, the learning support program coordinator at Trinity High School, received the Irene Casey Catholic Inclusion Award.
  • Joel Redle, a volunteer at St. Xavier High School, was named the Outstanding School Volunteer.

The Catholic Education Foundation also presented awards to four student recipients in the Catholic Schools Week poster and essay contests.

The contests invited students to celebrate the CSW theme of “Catholic Schools: Learn. Serve. Lead. Succeed.” The winners and their work are listed in the CSW guide on pages 7-14.

Bishop George V. Murry of Youngstown, Ohio, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) Committee on Catholic Education said in press statement issued by the USCCB that “Catholic schools provide an invaluable service to young people, their families, and our nation by helping to form women and men with the sharp intellects, broad perspectives and big hearts who bring their best to communities near and far.”

Students and teachers, above, from St. Ann School in Howardstown, Ky., joined in singing “Pan de Vida” at the Catholic Schools Week liturgy at St. Gabriel Church Jan. 30.

“Jesus Christ came to change hearts and to serve — one person at a time — and so Catholic schools invite students to encounter Christ, to be changed by Him, and love God by serving others with all of their heart, mind, soul and strength,” Bishop Murry said.

Nearly 1.9 million students are currently enrolled in 6,429 Catholic schools in cities, suburbs, small towns and rural communities across the country. Here in the Archdiocese of Louisville, there are more than 19,500 students and 1,500 faculty and staff at 49 Catholic elementary and high schools.

Schools across the archdiocese hosted a number of events, including letter-writing activities and food drives. Following is a sample of activities that involved acts of service.

Immaculata Classical Academy, 6010 Preston Hwy., high school students will make Valentines Feb. 2 for the elderly and for priests who visit the school to celebrate Mass. 

St. Leonard School, 440 Zorn Avenue, read thank you letters to parishioners for their support of Catholic education at weekend Masses Jan. 27-28. Students also collected food and toiletry items for United Crescent Hill Ministries.

Our Lady of Lourdes School, 510 Breckenridge Lane, assembled donated items and Valentine cards into backpacks for clients of Elderserve.

Students and staff of St. Agnes School exchanged the sign of peace at the Catholic Schools Week Mass.

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