January 31, 2024 at 8:50 a.m.
‘CATHOLIC SCHOOLS: UNITED IN FAITH AND COMMUNITY’
We know what makes our schools special: Faith, respect, community, service are just some of the elements that are woven into that tapestry.
Giovanni Virgiglio, Jr.
Superintendent of Schools
Every year, when National Catholic Schools Week comes up on the calendar, it gives me a chance to intentionally reflect on the things we sometimes take for granted in the day-in-day-out busyness of everyday life in our schools. We know what makes our schools special — not just the obvious, like some of the highest-level academics in the region — but the more subtle things that make our schools different in the very best ways. Faith, respect, community, service are just some of the elements that are woven into the tapestry that is the Catholic school community across our Diocese.
This year’s CSW theme is “Catholic Schools: United in Faith and Community,” something that is part and parcel of daily life at every one of our schools, not just for one week a year but every day of every year. Those key elements cannot be separated from the academic programs we provide. They go hand in hand, reinforcing the lessons taught in the classroom and teaching our students how to take those lessons out into the world. We are not just educating students; we are forming citizens. In a world so troubled by division, we take hope in the fact that our students will be a force for unity and an example of kindness when they leave our campuses and enter higher education or the workforce and eventually the public square.
CATHOLIC SCHOOLS WEEK
National Catholic Schools Week (CSW) is an annual celebration of Catholic education in the United States and this year takes place from Jan. 28-Feb.3. Schools are observing the week with Masses, assemblies and other activities for students, families, parishioners and community members to celebrate what makes Catholic schools great. Make CSW your own and share your ideas with other schools using #CSW2024 on social media.
The Catholic Schools Week theme is “Catholic Schools: United in Faith and Community.” Catholic schools have an irreplaceable role in the Church’s evangelizing mission. Building on the central goal of Catholic schools to form saints, Catholic schools teach and embrace the whole person, body, mind and spirit. The fact that all members of a Catholic school community share the Christian vision of faith that Christ is the foundation of Catholic education is what unites the school as a faith-filled community.
While faith is the binding element in Catholic schools, the Church reiterates that parents are the first teachers of their children. Holding this tenet, Catholic school communities expand beyond the walls of school buildings to envelop the family as an integral part of the school community. Together teachers, administrators, staff, students and parents fuel the light of faith by integrating culture with faith and faith with living.
The CSW logo (at r.) symbolizes the united community of Catholic schools — not a building or an institution, but people of faith serving God and others. No Catholic school can fulfill its educational role alone. As a community, Catholic schools are nourished and stimulated by the centrality of the word of Christ expressed through knowledge, service, scripture and sacramental tradition.
Catholic Schools: United in Faith and Community is a theme on which to build a spirit of the Gospel to benefit the human family. — NCEA.org
Of course, none of this happens in isolation. We know our students’ first and most important teachers are their parents and their first classroom the domestic church that is found gathered around the dinner table in the evenings, sitting together at Mass on Sunday mornings, and serving each other in the daily chores and responsibilities of the home. The parish community, too, is critical to the holistic approach of Catholic education. Those who surround us at liturgies and support our students and their families through their prayers and donations are a key element of our ability to bring together faith, education, community and service in one place. We are so grateful to all those who are our current families and our alumni as well as those faithful friends who share in this mission from a distance. Each one of you is part of an equation that adds up to success for our students.
The Catholic Schools Week logo this year (see end of story) symbolizes the united community of Catholic schools. Upon closer inspection, you’ll notice the figures don’t just stand side-by-side but rather lean into each other and on each other. We are not walking parallel paths alone but rather a shared path together, and that is what makes all the difference in our Catholic schools. The spirit of the Gospel guides us, and a community of faith surrounds us, giving our faculty, staff, administrators and students everything they need to succeed and thrive in the classroom and out.
Catholic education is not a building or an institution, not a mascot or a team; it is a family of people, united by faith and committed to the students in our care. We see each day how that powerful combination allows our students to flourish, to blossom into the people they are meant to be. We thank you for your part in that success story, and we invite you to continue to walk with us as we educate the next generation of faithful citizens.
The unique charism of each of our schools is truly something to celebrate, as is our commitment to standing united in faith and community regardless of our differences. May we all have a happy Catholic Schools Week!
Giovanni Virgiglio, Ed.D., is the Superintendent of Schools for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany.