By Jessica Able, Record Staff Writer
Students and educators in the Archdiocese of Louisville joined with thousands of students across the country to celebrate National Catholic Schools Week Jan. 29 to Feb. 4.
The theme for the national week of recognition is “Catholic Schools: Communities of Faith, Knowledge, and Service.”
The highlight of the local celebration was a liturgy held at Our Lady of Lourdes Church, 508 Breckenridge Lane, Jan. 31. Representatives from schools across the archdiocese attended the annual Mass.
Father Mark Spalding, vicar general of the archdiocese and pastor of Holy Trinity and Holy Name churches, celebrated the liturgy and reminded students that each time “we gather for Mass we’re here to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ.”
“No matter what we face in life, no matter what challenge or trials, we have the good news of Jesus Christ. God loves us, cares for us and showers his mercy upon us,” he said.
Whenever you go through the dark valleys he said, “God is with you and for you.”
“As we gather here and support one another in this place and this time, we remind ourselves of who and what we are as Roman Catholic Christians. We are people that appreciate the good news, that will not be overwhelmed by any darkness the world throws at us,” he said.
Father Spalding called the annual Catholic Schools Week Mass a “time of great joy” and said the Catholic elementary and high schools in the archdiocese are “good and worthy schools.”
He cited the three words from the week’s theme: faith, knowledge and service. The Roman Catholic tradition, Father Spalding said, “has never separated those three … each motivates the other.”
“Our faith drives us to pursue knowledge — the truth — because ultimately the truth leads us to God,” he said. “Our faith drives us because in imitation of Jesus Christ, in whom we have been baptized, we want to go out and serve the world.”
During the liturgy, several archdiocesan awards were presented to educators and one volunteer. They are:
- Maryann Hayslip, principal of St. Aloysius School in Pewee Valley, Ky., received the Distinguished Catholic School Leader Award.
- Emily McCarty, a teacher at St. Athanasius School, was named the Outstanding Religious Educator.
- Emily Metzger Puffer, learning differences coordinator at Sacred Heart Academy, received the Irene Casey Catholic Inclusion Award.
- Teresa Riggs, a volunteer at St. Leonard School, was named the Outstanding School Volunteer.
- Paula Do, a teacher at St. Francis of Assisi School, 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.
Three students were also recognized as winners of the Catholic Education Foundation’s poster and essay contests. The contests invited students to celebrate the ways in which Catholic schools are “Communities of Faith, Knowledge, and Service.” The winners and their work are listed in the Catholic Schools Week supplement in this week’s Record.
There are more than 19,500 students and 1,500 faculty and staff at 49 Catholic elementary and high schools in the archdiocese.
Around the country, 1.9 million students are currently educated in 6,525 Catholic schools in cities, suburbs, small towns and rural communities, according to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.
Schools in the archdiocese hosted special events throughout the week, including sporting events and out-of-uniform days. Below is a sampling of their activities that involved service:
- St. Gabriel School, 5503 Bardstown Road, collected baby bottles filled with money for a school-wide donation to the Pregnancy Resource Center.
- St. Joseph School in Bardstown, Ky., created thank-you cards to give to members of the parish and school communities who make Catholic education possible.
- St. Martha School, 2825 Klondike Lane, students collected toiletries and books for Catholic Charities Migration and Refugee Services.
- Sacred Heart Academy hosted Ursuline Sister Appreciation Day Feb. 2. The school introduced a “compassionate pin” program. Pins will be given to students and teachers who show acts of kindness and compassion. Sacred Heart students also collected school supplies for an Ursuline-sponsored school in Peru.