Jan 31, 2014

Catholic Schools Week is celebrated in local schools



(Submitted photo)

By Terence Hegarty

SPRINGFIELD – Every day of the academic year, Catholic school students have the opportunity to grow in faith and knowledge. But once each year, Catholic Schools Week, a national event held in January, celebrates Catholic education and gives the public a glimpse into these school settings.

In the Diocese of Springfield, more than 4,000 students attend the 18 Catholic schools.

“We believe we educate students to become good citizens and that is our goal,” said Franciscan Sister of St. Joseph Andrea Ciszewski, superintend of Catholic schools in the Springfield Diocese. “So, we have the help of all these different people and we want to honor, recognize them, invite them in and let them know that all that they're investing is (bringing) great rewards for everyone.”

                                    (Photo by Terence Hegarty)

“As always we look at the entire situation within a school,” she said. “So, we pray together, we study together, but we play together as well … So the students will have all types of activities.”

This was the 40th year that Catholic Schools Week was celebrated in the United States. Locally, a special “Chalice of Salvation” Mass, featuring students from Longmeadow's St. Mary Academy, was held to kick off the week.

Later in the week, Bishop McDonnell traveled to St. Rose de Lima Parish in Chicopee for a Mass with the St. Joan of Arc School community. Events will be held all year long as the St. Joan school community celebrates its centennial.

“St. Joan of Arc is a special place because it has a lot of communities coming together … from St. George and a lot of people from Holy Name,” said Maya Lecko, a fifth-grade student at the school. “And a lot of people are coming here because it's really cool!”

Catholic Schools Week allows students and teachers to celebrate in a variety of ways. Here are some more of the ways local Catholic schools participated in the national celebration:

(Photo by Terence Hegarty)

For Pajama Day at St. Mary School in Ware, students wore pajamas and assisted the less fortunate by donating new pajamas to the diocese's Catholic Charities Agency. 

Donald and Michele D'Amour, who last year implemented the D'Amour Challenge to help Springfield's St. Michael's Academy, announced during Catholic Schools Week that challenge grants were being offered to all of the Catholic schools in the diocese. Monies must go to tuition assistance and the D'Amours will match the amounts raised up to $5,000.

Focusing on eliminating bullying, students and staff at Holyoke Catholic High School participate in a program called “Erase Bullying.” Each Tuesday, students wear blue to show that they are in the program. During Catholic Schools Week, they gathered in the lobby demonstrating their support.

For more on Catholic Schools Week in the Springfield Diocese, tune in to the weekly newsmagazine, “Real to Reel,” at 7 p.m. Saturday on WWLP-22NEWS. And follow this link for a photo gallery of school activities throughout the diocese: