January 28, 2015
The annual observance of National Catholic Schools Week takes place this year from January 25-31.
This week will see the ten Catholic Elementary and two Catholic Middle/High Schools in the Diocese of Ogdensburg engage in activities for students, families, parishioners and communities celebrating the theme: Catholic Schools: Communities of Faith, Knowledge and Service.
St. John Paul II wrote that a central purpose of a Catholic education is to put faith in dialogue with culture (Ex corde Ecclesiae). Faith, academics, and community service are not isolated endeavors. The dialogue or integration of these three dimensions of education and formation is the measure by which any Catholic school can and should be judged.
A school’s Catholic identity is not gauged merely by the number of crucifixes hanging on the walls in the classrooms, but by how well students know and are motivated to live the mission of Jesus.
The faculties, staff, parents, volunteers and parishioners of our Catholic schools work hard and sacrifice much to provide the environment where our faith is learned, celebrated and shared.
A wonderful example can be found, for instance, at St. Mary’s School in Ticonderoga. As many of you know, in early September of last year, the school suffered a devastating fire.
It was heart-wrenching to see such damage and yet so inspiring to witness the response by the school community, parishioners, the village, neighboring churches, (particularly the Methodist Church), the Knights of Columbus, other Catholic schools in the North Country and beyond, and many other individuals and groups that have generously offered prayers and assistance.
The students of St. Mary’s, the teachers and staff, under the leadership of Father Kevin McEwan and St. Joseph Sister Sharon Anne Dalton have shown us all what it means to be “St. Mary’s Strong!”
The Catholic identity of this school continues to be so evident.
Theirs is a community bonded in faith and love as they continue to meet the challenges before them.
A strong, vibrant school community requires commitment and ongoing participation in the life of the school family by many, particularly our parents. Our weakest schools are those where our parents are not engaged in the ongoing life of the school.
In our Catholic schools, everyone must work together, bonded by love of our children and sharing a common vision of faith. In this way, the Catholic schools of the North Country become prime places for vocations to flourish, family life and faith formation to be strengthened and parishes re-vitalized.
This Catholic Schools Week is the perfect occasion to thank our parents who entrust their children to a Catholic School and to express gratitude to all those who help provide a sacred place where our youth are formed in faith, knowledge and Christian service.
Happy Catholic Schools Week!
Karlene Gonyeau, second grade student at St. Mary's School in Ticonderoga and her student, Hailey Sutphen took time for a picture during Bishop’ LaValley’s visit to the school Oct. 17. Mrs. Gonyeau explained to the bishop that the crucifix seen in the photo was the one item which was left intact after a fire destroyed the entire classroom and much of the school Sept. 5. Hailey took the crucifix home, and with the help of her parents, cleaned it up to be used again in the classroom, now being housed at the First United Methodist Church in Ticonderoga. In his message for Catholic Schools Week, Bishop LaValley writes that the Ticonder oga school is a “wonderful example” of an “environment where our faith is learned, celebrated and shared.”