Southwestern Indiana's Catholic Community Newspaper

Catholic Schools Week 'shares Love And Shows It Off To Community'

Bishop Siegel, center, stands with seniors Alex Hofman, left, of Reitz Memorial in Evansville; Emily Fields of Washington Catholic in Washington; Olivia Vantlin of Rivet in Vincennes; and Andrew Heldman of Mater Dei in Evansville.

Reitz Memorial High School senior Grace Martin said her Catholic school community has never let her down.

Martin, 17, said attending a Catholic school has allowed her to make a group of friends who share her values.

“I never have to worry about being judged for my values or my religion because all of the people around me support me in it,” she said. “I think that’s love. That’s what Catholic Schools Week shares is love and showing that off to the community.”

Martin was one of more than 800 Diocese of Evansville students, educators and community members who gathered at Good Shepherd Parish for Mass with Bishop Joseph M. Siegel on Jan. 29 to celebrate National Catholic Schools Week. Eighteen priests of the diocese concelebrated Mass with the bishop; Deacon Joe Siewers assisted, and Diocesan Director of Worship Matt Miller served as the Master of Ceremonies.

The focus was on Catholic education, and students from all 26 diocesan schools learned more about the 2019 theme “Catholic Schools: Learn, Serve, Lead, Succeed.”

During his homily, Bishop Siegel talked about family and sharing your faith. He told students to give thanks to their parents for any sacrifices they’ve made to provide them with a Catholic education, and to thank their teachers, principals and administrators.

The bishop said we have a responsibility of living our faith and sharing it.

The 45th Annual National Catholic Schools Week is Jan. 27 through Feb. 2. Since 1974 the focus has been to celebrate Catholic education throughout the U.S. Catholic schools often host various events throughout the week to promote the value of Catholic education and what it offers to kids, churches and communities.

In his welcome address, Catholic Schools Superintendent Dr. Daryl Hagan said everyone arrived Tuesday morning as separate schools, yet they gathered as one body in Christ. Hagan said this year’s message is “lighting the world with hope.”

“Our catholic schools do a wonderful job not only academically, but bringing hope to those who need it.… Catholic schools are a family,” he said. “I think our students understand that and feel that every day because we don’t educate just the academic child. We educate the whole child.”

Hagan said this year’s theme encompasses the core products and values found in Catholic schools across the country. Hagan said educators honor students as they are formed in the faith and obtain skills needed for the 21st century.

“We have 26 outstanding academic principals in our diocese and two presidents, and they educate, they inspire and they proclaim,” he said.

Hagan said educators not only teach students to become future servant leaders, faith-filled disciples and enriched citizens in our communities; educators grow with students.

“In Catholic schools we are all learners, servants and leaders,” he said. “These shared qualities are what make Catholic schools work. They are what make Catholic schools succeed.”

Memorial senior Kate Durchholz said growing up with a Catholic education has taught her discipline.

“I’ve been more centered in my faith, but I’m also disciplined with the people around me, Durchholz said. “It’s more of a community, like a family.”

If you have the chance to attend a Catholic school, Martin advised to go for it.

“Take advantage of it because it will give you everything,” she said. “And it gives you this community that will never let you down.”