Sheila Grove

ERIE —“Where two are three are gathered in my name, there am I in their midst. (Matthew 18:20)

Students gather every morning in classrooms around the world. Catholic school students gather in a classroom with a

DuBois Central Catholic students pray
before a game.

DCC Schools Facebook photo

crucifixa tangible symbol of the God in whom they place their trust. Their education takes place in an environment rooted in Gospel values.  

This is Catholic Schools Week. The theme ─-learn, serve, lead, succeed ─   inspires a week that highlights the value of Catholic education in the Diocese of Erie. Students will engage in fun activities that celebrate the communities they share.  

Catholic education in the Diocese of Erie has a more than 150-year history. Religious sisters and priests came to northwest Pennsylvania from Germany, France and Ireland to establish communities and staff parishes and schools in the second half of the 19th century.  

Society has changed a lot in a century and a half and so have neighborhoods, families and educational standards. The industrial revolution was just beginning during the time of the first small neighborhood schools sponsored by individual parishes. Today’s schools are large, sometimes regional centers, fully equipped with 21st century technology and offer a wide variety of extracurricular activities and a much broader curriculum than would even have been imagined by the early educational pioneers.  

Through the decades, the Diocese of Erie has maintained its commitment to Catholic education.  A multi-year study of the vitality of each school in the diocese, the projected growth of the school and the population trends of the area in which the school is located has resulted in significant changes to the configuration of schools over the past five years.   

St. George students, Erie, Christmas pageant.
St. George School Facebook photo

A report issued in February 2016, Building in Truth and Love, outlines the process used to study the schools, recommend changes and set goals. Today’s Diocese of Erie Catholic school system is the result of that process. Several school systems throughout the 13-county diocese were fine-tuned as a result of that process and a system of six schools was created for students in the Erie area. PreK, elementary, middle and high schools continue to vary in size and geographic location, but they are now bound by common goals, standards and resources.

The school systems missions embrace a Catholic identity rooted in Gospel values centered on the Eucharist and committed to faith formation, academic excellence and service. A strong Catholic identity, visible symbols of the Catholic faith, traditions and prayer make the schools unique. The teaching of the Catholic faith with a focus on Jesus Christ and the integration of faith with daily living is a hallmark of every Catholic school in the Diocese of Erie.

At a recent planning meeting, Jim Gallagher, superintendent of schools for the diocese, said he is committed to “continuing to work to stabilize Catholic schools in the diocese and the infrastructure and systems that support them. Ongoing attention to improvement in the quality of the Catholic educational experience will promote academically sound and faith-rich schools. 

Schools in the Diocese of Erie espouse the values reflected in the theme for this week.

St. Stephen, Oil City Science class
VRCS Facebook photo

– Students in Catholic schools in the Diocese of Erie benefit from a rich curriculum. Elementary and middle school students enjoy a wide range of academic opportunities designed to support whole-child development.Advanced class offerings, superb college acceptance rates and workplace preparedness are a testament to student success.

Serve In keeping with a Gospel of service and good stewardship, Catholic school students are given many opportunities to share their talents within the school and in the community.

Lead School communities provide clear evidence of the leadership nurtured by opportunities within the Catholic schools. Students are afforded multiple opportunities for cultural and community awareness. 

Succeed – Success can be defined in many ways, but Catholic school students are challenged to make the most of their abilities and to use their skills in ways consistent with Gospel values. 

Seton School, Meadville, musical performance
Seton Facebook photo
Mercyhurst Prepartory School, Erie, theaterperformance
MPS Facebook photo
Elk County student pride
Elk County Catholic Schools Facebook photo
St. John Paul II cheerleaders show school spirit.
Kennedy Catholic Schools Facebook Photo