Port Charlotte | The first day of school can be an emotional time for the students, parents and teachers alike.
With the promise of new beginnings, new friends, and new adventures, the first day can also be a time for big changes and invariably some tears. On cue some tears streamed down cheek and smiles shone Aug. 12, when the 2019-2020 academic year began at Diocese of Venice Catholic Schools.
At St. Charles Borromeo Catholic School in Port Charlotte, the tears were evenly split between parents and the youngest of students. The older students struggled to get back into a routine of waking up early for school but led by example as the day progressed.
When the students and parents arrived, they were greeted by the smiling faces of the faculty and staff with Principal Tonya Peters trying to say hello to as many as possible while also answering questions from parents.
Once everyone was settled into their classrooms and dropped off their backpacks, it was time for morning prayer in the school courtyard. Class by class walked out on the steamy morning to hear a Bible reading and recite prayer intentions. They also said the Pledge of Allegiance and heard announcements about upcoming activities.
With some words of encouragement from Peters, students were sent off to begin the task of learning while also growing closer to the Lord. These scenes were repeated to varying degrees at all 15 Diocesan Catholic Schools. In addition, both St. Andrew Catholic School in Cape Coral and St. Ann Catholic School in Naples welcomed new principals.
Bishop Frank J. Dewane celebrated his first Mass of the academic year Aug. 16, for the students at Epiphany Cathedral Catholic School. The Bishop is scheduled to celebrate Mass at each Diocesan school by early September. During the Mass, Bishop Dewane welcomed the students back while also thanking the parents for entrusting the care and education of their children to a Diocesan Catholic School.
“The first and best teachers of the children are the parents, so we are willing to try and compliment this effort, certainly not take the place, in this regard.”
During his Homily, the Bishop explained how in 2019 the Diocese of Venice is celebrating its 35th anniversary since its formation. As part of the celebration, he introduced a new initiative to the students that during the coming month they will learn how to become true “Disciples of Christ.”
To reinforce the point, the Bishop asked the students to repeat “Disciples of Christ” several times.
“A disciple is really a follower, or student of someone,” Bishop Dewane explained. “To be a disciple, you need to understand their life and their writings. You are going to have fun, but we are going to focus what it really means to be a disciple. That is what you will doing in becoming a Disciple of Christ.”
More details about this “Disciples of Christ” effort and celebrations related to the Diocese’s 35th Anniversary will be revealed in the coming weeks.