Catholic schools mark golden anniversary of National Catholic Schools Week

January 23, 2024

HOUSTON — National Catholic Schools Week will be celebrated nationwide and in the Archdiocese from Jan. 28 to Feb. 3 with the new theme “United in Faith and Community.”

Sponsored by the National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA) and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishop’s Secretariat of Catholic Education, Catholic Schools Week (CSW) is an annual celebration of Catholic education in the U.S. traditionally held the last week in January.

Debra Haney, Ed.D., secretariat director and superintendent of Catholic Schools, said, “I am excited about this year’s celebration of National Catholic Schools Week because we are focusing on what sets us apart from other school systems and what our schools do best, which is to form students on their spiritual journey toward sainthood.”

Haney said NCEA’s new theme celebrates the hallmarks of a Catholic education.

“These hallmarks focus on the tradition of excellence in our Catholic school system, learning that has faith integrated throughout all aspects of the curriculum and school life, strong solidarity within the community, service to others through Spiritual and Corporal Works of Mercy, a holistic education that develops inspiring leaders, and celebrations that are engaging and full of energy and enthusiasm,” she said.

The Archdiocese observes the week with Masses, open houses and other activities for students, families, parishioners and community members.

Bernadette Drabek at St. Rose of Lima said the school’s tradition of the mechanical pig races will happen every day except on Mass day. Other events include competitions between their student houses: Bravery, Creativity, Stewardship and Truth & Wisdom. House competitions include reading logs, dress like a star, house color competition and a lip sync competition at a pep rally Friday.

Drabek said another of the house competitions is to make donations for The Gathering, a ministry of St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church that assists people with special needs. The Gathering was a safe and stimulating day of fun held on the fourth Wednesday of the month where parish volunteers were on hand to assist guests with various activities, including a sing-along or entertainment, followed by a theme-related craft, exercise like beach ball, volleyball, table basketball or the Hokey Pokey in chairs, and Bingo.

“Middle school students will lead a project collecting items for a ministry of the church that has been closed since COVID-19,” she said. “They will be collecting items in January to assist with bringing back The Gathering.”

On Tuesday, St. Anthony of Padua Catholic School in The Woodlands is taking the CSW theme and making a paper monstrance with all of its students’ names, as well as the names of all staff members. A monstrance is the exposition case and stand, typically large and ornate to display the Eucharist for certain processions and devotions.

“Students will sign their name on a piece of gold paper, and then all of the pieces will come together later that day,” said Kristina Martin, religion coordinator at St. Anthony of Padua. “At the bottom of the monstrance will have an image of Mary, since she is all our mother. My favorite monstrance that I’ve prayed in front of the Blessed Sacrament was one at Life Teen Camp Hidden Lake, and it was the inspiration for the base. The monstrance will be assembled outside of our library, a high-traffic area, so all the students will remember we are united to Christ and each other.”

Also focusing on the theme is St. Jerome Catholic School. Principal DeeDee Rzasnicki said the school is excited to work with the Missionary Child Association based out of Fort Worth. The organization will provide each child with materials to make two rosaries — one for themselves and one they will send to their missions across the globe to give to children. The five colors for each decade represent the areas where the organization has its missions.

“I chose this particular event because I was touched by the idea the we are asking children to participate and join as one to pray for world peace,” Rzasnicki said. “Sometimes our students get caught up with what they think is important and what really is important is much greater. We are very active in Works of Mercy for our parish and local community but our faith demands that we serve each other around the globe.”

On Wednesday, St. Theresa Catholic School in Sugar Land will have International Day, where the students, faculty, staff and parent volunteers dress up in cultural attire for the day.

“The parent volunteers decorate classrooms to represent the country where a miracle occurred — Eucharist, Marian, or saint miracle. The children travel from country to country to learn about various miracles, and they get their passport stamped,” said Fran Rice, principal at St. Theresa. “At lunchtime, more parent volunteers will have samples of food that are common to the culture of the countries represented.”

During the week, Catholic schools plan to share their Catholic Schools Week celebrations on social media using #CSW2024.

About the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston Catholic Schools
In the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, some 17,500 students attend 42 diocesan grade schools, five private schools and 12 private high schools in six counties in the region. The students, staff and faculty comprise one of the largest private school systems in Texas. The schools, which serve students PreK-3 through 12th grade, welcomes students of all faiths, with tuition assistance available.

To learn more about Catholic Schools in the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, visit www.choosecatholicschools.org