St. Martha Catholic School second graders Camp in the Classroom duirng Catholic Schools Week in Sarasota.

Catholic Schools Week celebrated

Naples | For one week each year Catholic Schools in the Diocese of Venice have a chance to celebrate their place in the world.

Catholic Schools Week (Jan. 26-Feb. 1) is an annual national week of recognition of the important educational and moral contributions Catholic Schools continue to make in this country. Sponsored by the National Catholic Educational Association, this year’s theme was “Catholic Schools: Learn. Serve. Lead. Succeed.”

Bishop Frank J. Dewane celebrated the Mass of the Holy Spirit on Jan. 27 at St. Elizabeth Seton Parish in Naples for all Catholic Schools in Collier County. The student body of St. John Neumann Catholic High School walked to the Mass from their nearby school. Also present were middle-school student representatives from St. Ann Catholic School, St. Elizabeth Seton Catholic School, Donahue Academy of Ave Maria and Royal Palm Academy. Following the Mass, the students all walked back to St. John Neumann for lunch and an afternoon of fun activities.

The Bishop asked the students if they want Jesus Christ as their friend. To do so, they need to learn about Christ through Scripture. Citing the recent Sunday of the Word of God (Jan. 26) proclaimed by Pope Francis as a renewed effort for Catholics to know Scripture, Bishop Dewane said by reading the sacred texts they will come to know Jesus in a profound way. As St. Jerome stated: “ignorance of Scripture, is ignorance of Christ.”

“It should change the life that you live.” the Bishop continued. “Read in Scripture how you should live your life. How you treat your classmates, or your teachers. Begin by taking the time to delve in a more systematic and deeper way when you study Scripture… It is my prayer that this Catholic Schools Week is just the beginning of looking at Scripture in a different way.”

Bishop Dewane concluded by reminding the students that while the Bible is a book, it is unlike any other book that has existed, as it was inspired by the Holy Spirit and is about the life of Christ, Our Savior and Messiah. “Make it your deliberate, conscious goal as this week and school year moves forward to do more and learn about Christ through Scripture.”

The Diocese of Venice has 15 Catholic schools, which include 10 elementary schools (grades pre-K to eight), three high schools (grade nine to 12), a school offering all grades, and a school for children with learning disabilities (ungraded), all with a combined enrollment of 4,608. The schools are located throughout the Diocese, extending from Bradenton in the north, to Naples in the south and Sebring in the east.

During Catholic Schools Week, each day is devoted to a specific celebration. For example, all schools celebrate those who make Catholic education possible, with special events for teachers, parents, grandparents, prospective parents and donors.

Students at St. Andrew Catholic School in Cape Coral gathered Jan. 28 for a blessing of the playground. The blessing is the culmination of a five-year effort to install a more exercise-centric playground.  St. Andrew Administrator Father Eduardo Coll blessed those assembled as well as the play equipment looking to the future for years to come filled with joy and good health. In attendance were members of the St. Andrew community who were instrumental in the planning and execution of this major project.
  Plaques of thanks and appreciation were presented to two several people who were key to the success of the project.

St. Charles Borromeo Catholic School in Port Charlotte was the location of a Jan. 28 all-school retreat led by the eighth graders. The day included a variety of activities such as arts and crafts, singing, group projects and much more.

Schools also honored our nation with flag-raising ceremonies, singing patriotic songs. At Epiphany Cathedral Catholic School in Venice, they prayed a patriotic rosary, which included praying for each state, each branch of government and local representatives. With each Hail Mary they prayed for an individual state and gave a rose and a state puzzle piece to our Blessed Mother.

Part of Catholic Schools Week is the celebration of friendships, therefore the 2nd grade students at St. Martha Catholic School in Sarasota chose to have a “Camp Out in the Classroom”. The ‘Camp Out’ included hanging out in tents, making s’mores, and having a camp sing-a-long.

Another key component of Catholic education is learning the importance of service to others by taking part in a variety of service projects at their own school and in the community. When students take part in service activities—both local and beyond—they demonstrate the values and faith they gain through their Catholic education and learn how to make the world a better place.

These were just a few of the activities that took place during Catholic Schools Week in the Diocese of Venice. To see more photos or to learn more about Diocesan Catholic School, visit www.dioceseofvenice.org/schools.