Utah Catholic Schools will once again celebrate annual national Catholic Schools Week, which this year will be Jan. 26 to Feb. 4. The theme is “Catholic Schools: Learn. Serve. Lead. Succeed.” This theme encompasses the core products and values that can be found in Catholic schools across the country. Teachers form students to become future servant leaders, faith-filled disciples and enriched citizens who contribute to the good of our communities. These shared qualities are what make Catholic schools work, and are effective in transforming the minds and hearts of our children.
Catholic schools play an important role in the mission of the Church. Their specific vocation is to be instruments of evangelization by living, proclaiming and sharing the message of the Gospel. They provide students the opportunity to get to know God, learn the teachings of the Catholic Church and acquire moral and spiritual values through the personal experience of Christ in their lives. In other words, Catholic schools help carry out the mission of the Church to form active believers in Jesus and disciples of Christ. This is reflected in their relationship with God and with others, how they treat one another with love, respect, kindness, mercy and compassion.
During Catholic Schools Week, schools across the Diocese of Salt Lake City and across the country mark the occasion with celebration of Masses, open houses, assemblies, special entertainment and other activities for the students, families, parishioners and community members. These events express the value of Catholic education to young people and the Catholic schools’ contributions to our Church, communities and our society. It is an occasion to highlight the uniqueness of a Catholic education, which acknowledges parents as the original teachers in their children’s lives, and celebrates the ongoing mutual involvement of parents in their child’s education and with their child’s school. Hence, it is also an occasion to thank the parents for their participation, commitment and service to their child’s education.
The open houses are an opportunity for families and our community to see firsthand the benefits of a Catholic education, with its commitment to academic excellence and faith formation. It highlights the unique community environment where teachers, parents and children are surrounded by families and a parish that reinforce spiritual beliefs and moral values. They also can meet the highly experienced teachers, see the creative classrooms, and learn how Catholic elementary schools leverage technology across the curriculum and throughout the school, introduce innovative reading and math programs that accelerate academic achievement, and the safe, loving, supportive and orderly environment in a Catholic school that are conducive to effective learning.
Catholic Schools Week is a joint project of the National Catholic Education Association and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. To learn more about Catholic Schools Week, you can visit the NCEA website, www.ncea.org/news/ CatholicSchoolsWeek.asp.
I, together with my brother priests, extend our deep gratitude to all of our teachers, administrators and staff as faithful and dedicated partners in our ministry, who give so much of themselves because they believe in the value of a Catholic education. Let us pray for them as they continue to work together with parents to help all children develop their skills to learn to live fully, meaningfully and fruitfully amidst the pressing challenges they face in our society and the world today.
Finally, thank you to all the parents for your trust and confidence as you send your children to our Catholic schools, as well as to our benefactors and donors for your contribution and support of Catholic education through the Diocesan Development Drive, Catholic Foundation of Utah and individual donations. May God bless your generosity a hundredfold.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
The Most Rev. Oscar A. Solis
Bishop of Salt Lake City