Catholic Schools Week in the Diocese of Knoxville will kick off Sunday, Jan. 26, at many parish schools with Mass and open houses.
Superintendent Sister Mary Mary Marta Abbott, RSM, has been collecting information on all the events occurring in the diocese’s 10 schools. This will be her third year to visit all the schools during Catholic Schools Week. Last year, she and Deacon Patrick Murphy-Racey visited all the schools and Deacon Murphy-Racey created a video capturing many of the week-long events. View the four-minute video here.
In conjunction with the theme of Catholic Schools Week 2014, a couple of activities taking place in the diocese’s schools include Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Chattanooga, which this year has chosen two organizations to help. The first one is in memory of Amanda Swartout, a student at OLPH who died of cancer during her sixth-grade year and would be a high school freshman this year.
Each year OLPH tries to honor Amanda’s memory with a “Hats on Day,” which will be on Jan. 28. Students can wear hats and donate $1 that will go to LeBonheur Children’s Hospital in her memory. LeBonheur in Memphis was the hospital that cared for Amanda.
And in keeping with Pope Francis’ mission for the poor, the second charity OLPH will be working with this year is Community Kitchen. A guest speaker will talk to OLPH students on Jan. 27 and will collect from students through Jan. 31 gently used or new blankets; warm hats, gloves, scarves, and socks for adults and children;
dish soaps; sandwich bags; plastic forks; 12-ounce Styrofoam bowls and cups; cereal; medium-sized tube or shell noodles.
And at St. John Neumann School in Farragut, the third annual ponytail-cutting event will be held. St. John Neumann girls and their mothers and sisters are invited to participate in this heartwarming event. Donations of hair, eight inches or more in length, are used by the American Cancer Society, in partnership with Pantene Beautiful Lengths, to create wigs for cancer patients. The school’s ponytail-cutting assembly is the culminating event of Student Retreat Day on Jan. 30.
According to a letter from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, National Catholic Schools Week 2014 will be observed in dioceses around the country Jan. 26 – Feb. 1. This year’s theme across the country, “Catholic Schools: Communities of Faith, Knowledge and Service,” focuses on the principles of a Catholic education.
“Our schools have educated millions of young people over the years by providing them a superior academic background, always pointing the way to eternal life,” said Archbishop George Lucas of Omaha, Neb., chairman of the U. S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Committee on Education. “The success of Catholic schools in handing on the faith, generation after generation, is a bright light in the history of the Church in the United States.”
About 2.1 million students are currently educated in more than 6,600 Catholic schools in cities, suburbs, small towns and rural communities around the country. Students receive an excellent, faith-filled education that prepares them for the challenges of higher education and a competitive world. An estimated 99 percent of students graduate from high school and 85 percent of Catholic school graduates attend college.
“The heart of the apostolate of Catholic education is the mission to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Catholic schools provide a rich environment of faith and learning where students experience how much God loves them in Christ. They are free to express their own love for God in prayer and the celebration of the sacraments and to express love of neighbor in a community where each is respected as a gift from God,” Archbishop Lucas said. “Our students hear Jesus inviting them to be his followers and friends, and they learn how to respond to him with generosity and faith.”
The observance of Catholic Schools Week began in 1974. This year marks the 40th anniversary of this annual event. Schools and parishes around the country will hold activities such as Masses, open houses, and pot luck gatherings to celebrate the community they represent.
To see the most recent diocesan school highlights and the first Schools Report, go to the Diocese of Knoxville Schools web page.