Catholic schools are an integral “source of formation in bringing about followers of Jesus Christ,” said Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz at the annual Catholic Schools Week Mass at the Cathedral of the Assumption in downtown Louisville Feb. 2.
In a normal year, scores of students representing the schools of the Archdiocese of Louisville would crowd into pews amid a celebratory week lauding Catholic education in the United States.
Due to COVID-19 protocols, only about 50 people sat spaced apart to listen to sacred Scripture on the feast of the presentation of the Lord and to give thanks for Catholic education. Others throughout the diocese tuned into the live-streamed Mass via the Cathedral’s YouTube channel.
The theme of National Catholic Schools Week, observed from Jan. 31 to Feb. 6, is “Catholic Schools: Faith. Excellence. Service.”
During his homily, Archbishop Kurtz asked those listening to call to mind the special teachers or administrators in their lives who have served in Catholic education.
“Think today of the people who have served you so well,” he said. “And we applaud them.”To the educators, he added, “We thank you for the part you are in formation.”
The day’s readings highlight Jesus as the light to the nations, the archbishop noted. In the second reading, Jesus is described as “refining” or “purifying” those who follow him.
“What we are talking about is formation,” he said. “There is a formation that occurs in every aspect of the life of that (Catholic) school. And, that formation is the work of Jesus in his grace.”
Archbishop Kurtz said as we approach the one-year mark of the coronavirus pandemic, “we are in the midst of talking about the heroic nature of those who are involved in Catholic school education.”
He acknowledged Leisa Schulz, superintendent for Catholic schools, for her dedication to Catholic schools in the archdiocese. He said she has been “heroic,” “humble” and “talented.” Schulz is set to retire in June. Dr. Mary Beth Bowling, current assistant superintendent, will succeed as the next superintendent of schools.
Following Communion, several archdiocesan awards were presented to educators and a school volunteer as well as the winners of the Catholic Education Foundation’s Essay and Poster Contest. Elementary and high schools around the archdiocese took part in the annual observance through scheduled service, prayer and amusements throughout the week.