Catholic Schools Week
Catholic Schools Week focuses
knowledge and service
National Catholic Schools Week 2015 will be observed in dioceses around the country Jan. 25—31. This year's theme, "Catholic Schools: Communities of Faith, Knowledge and Service," focuses on the important academic, faith-building and societal contributions provided by a Catholic education.
"Catholic schools are a vital aspect of the Church's mission to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ and so an important aspect of our own teaching mission," said Archbishop George Lucas of Omaha, Nebraska, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Committee on Education. "Pope Francis has reminded us that the New Evangelization is not precisely about what we do and what programs we adopt; rather, it is about what God is doing, the graces we are being blessed with, and the Spirit that is always being poured-out over our ministry."
About 2.1 million students are currently educated in nearly 6,600 Catholic schools in cities, suburbs, small towns and rural communities around the country. Students receive an education that prepares them for the challenges of higher education and a competitive work environment. An estimated 99 percent of students graduate from high school and 85 percent of Catholic school graduates attend college.
In the Diocese of Oakland, whose formal school program began in 1868, there are 45 elementary and middle schools, one private elementary school, nine high schools, 21 transitional kindergarten programs, 14 preschool programs and 44 after school programs.
These Catholic schools serve 5,765 high school students and 11,531 elementary pupils via more than 1,600 religious and lay teachers.
By comparison, there are 222,681 K-12 students in Alameda County, and 173,020 in Contra Costa County.
Within the diocese there are also two Catholic universities, and graduate programs associated with the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, including the Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology and the Jesuit School of Theology.
"Catholic schools are centers of academic rigor," said Sister Barbara Bray, SNJM, superintendent of schools. "A core curriculum, incorporating national and state expectations, is enriched by the arts, technology, world languages, co- and extra-curricular activities and athletics.
"Assessment data demonstrates that Catholic school students in the Diocese of Oakland score well above national averages at all levels. Graduation rates are nearly 100 percent from secondary schools.
"Catholic schools in the Diocese of Oakland develop the whole person — spiritually, intellectually, morally, and socially — in an environment that recognizes faith and learning as intricately woven together," she said.
Two of the many activities that mark excellence are the annual diocesan-wide Science Fair, scheduled for Feb. 7 at St. Joseph Notre Dame High School in Alameda and the Lillian Black Festival of Arts on Feb. 22 at Bishop O'Dowd High School in Oakland.
Archbishop Lucas also stressed the importance of reaching out to underserved populations.
"In these days of economic turmoil for so many families, a good education remains the single best way out of poverty for young people," Archbishop Lucas said. "At the same time, we cannot forget, through the education and faith formation of children and youth, our Catholic schools are part of a solution to support families and to build productive lives for future generations."
The observance of Catholic Schools Week began in 1974. Schools and parishes around the country will hold activities such as Masses, open houses, and pot luck gatherings to celebrate the communities they represent.
This year's theme of faith, knowledge and service encompasses several concepts that are at the heart of a Catholic education. First, schools are communities — small families in their own right, but also members of the larger community of home, church, city and nation.
For more information, visit our school advertisers or www.csdo.org and read the news items in this section to see how our region's Catholic schools demonstrate their faith, knowledge and service — three measures by which any Catholic school can and should be judged.
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