Catholic schools throughout the Archdiocese of Philadelphia are celebrating the 46th annual Catholic Schools Week observance (Jan. 26 to Feb. 1) with Masses, pep rallies, science projects and even a flower show.
Spearheaded by the National Catholic Educational Association, the observance highlights the value of a Christ-centered, faith-based education. The year’s events will focus on the call to “Learn. Serve. Lead. Succeed.”
In addition, each day of Catholic Schools Week focuses on a specific theme. For 2020, participants will reflect on the importance of parishes, communities, students, faculty, staff and volunteers in educating youth, as well as the importance of vocations.
There are 119 elementary, 17 secondary and four schools of special education in the five-county metropolitan area that comprises the archdiocese.
The city of Philadelphia historically has been a cradle for the development of Catholic education, with the nation’s first parochial school opening in 1782 at St. Mary Parish in Philadelphia. Between 1830 and 1851, Bishop Francis Kenrick initiated a drive to create a wider network of Catholic schools. St. John Neumann continued these efforts, overseeing the opening of 17 elementary schools in the city between 1851 and 1860.
According to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), Catholic education continued to flourish with the arrival of Catholic immigrants during the middle of the 19th century. Several religious orders established communities in the U.S. in order to staff and operate the growing number of schools.
The Philadelphia archdiocese will cap this year’s Catholic Schools Week with a Mass of thanksgiving for teachers who are celebrating milestone anniversaries of 25 years or more than 50 years of service. Auxiliary Bishop Michael Fitzgerald, who oversees the archdiocesan Office of Catholic Education (OCE), will preside at the liturgy, which will take place on Jan. 31 at 12:05 p.m. in the Cathedral Basilica of SS. Peter and Paul.
Following Mass, Bishop Fitzgerald along with senior OCE leadership will join the honoree teachers for a reception at the Archdiocesan Pastoral Center.
Both the Mass and portions of the reception will be livestreamed on the Archdiocese of Philadelphia School’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/AOPSschools/
Additional events for Catholic School Week are as follows:
Tuesday, Jan. 28
St. Bernadette of Lourdes School (1015 Turner Avenue, Drexel Hill)
8 a.m.: Cardinal O’Hara High School student and St. Bernadette alumnus Liam Walsh will present eighth-grade teacher Theresa MacIntosh with the Cardinal O’Hara High School “Excelsior Award” during an 8 a.m. gathering before the student body.
St. Dominic Catholic School (8510 Frankford Avenue, Philadelphia)
1:15 – 2:15 p.m.: St. Dominic students will spend the day “Celebrating Our Students” by holding a spirit-wear and school colors dress-down day as well as an afternoon social among students. The event will feature games of skill for older students and toy sharing for younger students.
Cardinal O’Hara High School (1701 South Sproul Road, Springfield, Delaware County)
9:10 a.m.: Cardinal O’Hara will hold its Student Council Induction Mass and Reception for members of the student leadership who assist with activities and projects within the school community throughout the year.
Little Flower Catholic High School for Girls (1000 W. Lycoming Street, Philadelphia)
8:15 a.m.: During Catholic Schools Week, Little Flower will honor its alumnae with a token of appreciation at the school liturgy. Each alumna in attendance will be given a rose by current students. Additionally, faculty and staff will display photos.
Wednesday, Jan. 29
Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic School (815 Cathedral Road, Philadelphia)
8:30 a.m.: The entire student body of Immaculate Heart of Mary (IHM) will gather for a special Catholic Schools Week Mass. Students will serve as lectors, altar servers, gift bearers, and cantors. Additionally, the student council will show the school’s appreciation for its adult volunteers including bus drivers and crossing guards.
Presentation B.V.M. Catholic School (105 Old Soldiers Road, Cheltenham)
9:30 – 11 a.m.: Students will take part in an American Society of Civil Engineers STREAM (science, religion, arts and mathematics) activity. Prior to the start of the activity, students in grades kindergarten through eight will see a slide presentation on “What is Civil Engineering?” and have the opportunity to take part in a Q&A to learn more on the topic. Students will work as a class on the “Slender Tower Challenge.” Participants will draw out a tower and using materials will build from the plan. The culmination of the activity will be measuring the tall towers.
Thursday, Jan. 30
St. Agnes School (211 West Gay Street, West Chester)
10 – 11 a.m. (Grades 1-4); 1:10 – 2:35 p.m. (Grades 5-8): Students will “Celebrate Vocations,” the national theme for Thursday, with a career day. Students will dress to impress emulating a career they may like to pursue in the future. Additionally, students will have the opportunity to learn more about vocations and careers from adults in various fields of work.
Pope John Paul II High School (181 Rittenhouse Rd, Royersford)
1:45 p.m.: Pope John Paul II High School will celebrate a Winter Sports Pep Rally recognizing student athletes competing in Winter Sports including basketball, swimming, and wrestling.
St. Hubert Catholic High School for Girls (7320 Torresdale Avenue, Philadelphia)
9:15 – 10:30 a.m.: St. Hubert will hold its annual CSW Community Appreciation Day event. The students have collected thousands of new socks for men, women, children and babies for this year’s “Sock-it-to-Me” Drive. The “Sock-it-to-Me” rally will be held in the gym for seniors and juniors at 9:15 a.m. and for sophomores and freshmen at 9:50 a.m.
St. Michael the Archangel Catholic School (130 Levittown Parkway, Levittown)
6 – 8 p.m.: St. Michael the Archangel will hold its annual Catholic Schools Week Open House and Jr. Flower Show Expo. During the event, the Student Council will lead school tours. The new cheerleading squad will also be present, and there will be robotics demonstrations as well as art displays, games of chess and performances by the musical theater club.
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