As a cradle Catholic boy in a school that was run by the Sisters of the Precious Blood, my first memories of Catholic Schools Week, some 50 years ago, are heartfelt and enduring. I remember the special activities, Masses, music, and food associated with Catholic Schools Week. I remember helping my third grade teacher Sr. Esther, prepare her room on the Saturday before CSW by cutting out bulletin board letters and pictures. I remember going to the local senior citizen center, spending time visiting and singing and then feeling like I did something good. I remember Fr. Finnegan playing softball with us during recess. I remember feeling safe and cared for, but in an environment where I knew I was expected to learn, do work hard, and be respectful of others, especially adults.
Last year during Catholic Schools Week we introduced Flat Dr. Dan, based on the 1964 character Flat Stanley by Jeff Brown, to our schools. Flat Dr. Dan traveled the diocese. He attended Mass with the students at St. Mary’s Elementary in Nevada. With the students from St. James in St. Joseph he traveled to the Second Harvest Food Bank and helped sort groceries. At Archbishop O’Hara High School Flat Dr. Dan participated in their yearly trash bag fundraiser. After all that activity Flat Dr. Dan listened to story time at Our Lady of the Angels and maybe even took a short nap.
This year for Catholic Schools Week I will be accompanying Flat Dr. Dan to each elementary school in the diocese. I am excited to experience in person all the wonderful events our schools have to offer for Catholic Schools Week. I look forward to reliving some of my childhood memories and participating in the new experiences that will create lifelong memories for this generation of Catholic school students.
Nostalgic memories older Catholics have of Catholic School Week are important, but sometimes we confuse these nostalgic memories with the true mission of the Catholic schools. Catholic Schools Week is a time to honor the rich educational, spiritual, and social traditions our Catholic schools have had, continue to have, will have in the future. Catholic schools were built to teach our children about Christ and the Church. Catholic schools were built to provide an environment where children would learn more than reading, writing, and arithmetic. Catholic schools were built to teach children how to live as Christ lived. If we remember why Catholic schools were built we have a better chance of remembering why we should continue to provide quality Catholic education for present and future generations of children.
I wish you a holy and enjoyable Catholic Schools Week.
Dr. Daniel Peters
Superintendent of Catholic Schools