Sheila Grove

Northwest Pennsylvania — The first week of February this year is Catholic Schools Week. The theme of Faith, Excellence and Service highlights the tradition of Catholic education. In this time of pandemic, it would be appropriate to add resilience to the list. 

          In the ten months since COVID -19 forced schools to close abruptly, teachers, administrators, students and parents have worked tirelessly to ensure that learning continued to take place.

          Some days have been rockier than others as those involved learned new ways of delivering and receiving instruction. Creativity, flexibility and God’s grace have kept the ship afloat and children have continued to learn and thrive.

          The value that school personnel place on each child has been in evidence from the beginning. Livestreamed announcements, bed-time stories read by teachers, teachers and administrators delivering graduation signs, caps and gowns and diplomas to graduates, are just a few examples of the effort to maintain community and demonstrate Christian service while schools were closed.

          The dedication continued as schools reopened for a mix of in-person and online instruction. With an emphasis on safety as a top priority, educators found innovative ways to meet educational goals while incorporating new protocols.

          With continued creativity and despite the challenges of celebrating anything with masks, dividers and physical separation, Catholic schools are forging ahead with activities to mark Catholic School Week 2021.

          It is a week set apart. Normal schedules and often dress codes will be set aside. Schools are planning themes and special activities for each day of the week.

          On Monday, Feb. 1 at 9 am, Bishop Lawrence Persico will celebrate a Great Mass livestreamed from St. MarkCatholic Center in Erie. Every school in the diocese as well as family and friends are invited to pray together. Here is the link.

Last fall, students at St. Leo Magnus School in Ridgway
launched a floating balloon rosary to honor our Blessed
Mother as part of the October's special focus on this
devotion. The faith that permeates all aspects of Catholic
schools across the Diocese of Erie is celebrated during
Cathoic Schools Week.             Contributed photo

          The Kennedy Catholic Family of Schools in Hermitage will focus on faith with special rosaries and other times of prayer. A talent show and an opportunity for students to thank their parents for the gift of Catholic education are planned. Valentines will be sent to nursing home residents and service opportunities for veterans and neighborly acts of kindness will be on display.

          In the DuBois Area Catholic Schools, theme days permit students to dress differently — even as a 100-year-old in celebration of the 100th day of school. Special lunches and games and communal learning activities will add to the fun. A school-wide praying of the luminous mysteries during the recitation of the rosary will highlight the life of Christ.

          Catholic Schools in the diocese of Erie are separated by distance, arranged by school system and building, but are united in faith, excellence and service. This year, as a result of the technology available because of the pandemic, they will be united as the body of Christ at one celebration of the Mass.