Catholic Schools Week was first introduced by the National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA) in 1974. It is an annual event which typically takes place on the last Sunday in January. The purpose of this week is to emphasize the value and necessity of Catholic education to families and young people, as well as how it contributes to the Church, the community and to our nation.
What sets Catholic schools apart from other types of schools? Pope-emeritus Benedict XVI stated: “It is in the mystery of the Word made flesh that the mystery of our lives becomes clear.” Essentially what Benedict points out is that Catholic education provides its students with a way of looking at the world that takes in all aspects of the mystery of life. Very often students at public and private schools see only half the picture. Those schools leave out such truths as the essential reality that we are bodily and spiritual beings; that we are formed to be in communion with God who has taken on our nature. Non-Catholic schools try to teach truth to students while omitting the source of truth which is God. Students at a Catholic school get the whole story of humanity.
These past several months of lockdowns demonstrate another reason why Catholic education is so important to society. While challenges differ in many school districts, by and large, Catholic schools have stayed open (particularly Catholic elementary schools) when other schools have gone to distant or hybrid learning. Catholic schools show that safeguarding health and maintaining in person education are both achievable even during a pandemic.