The celebration of Catholic Schools Week at our five Light of Christ Catholic Schools will have different events ongoing all week, but the purpose and message is the same — “Not only do our students receive a sound academic education, but they do so with the joy and freedom of expressing and sharing their Catholic faith every day.”
Students from Church of the Ascension Parish join students from the four other parishes in our area at the Light of Christ Catholic Schools. These schools include St. Mary’s Grade School; St. Anne School; St. Mary’s Academy; Catholic of the Holy Spirit Elementary; St. Mary’s Central High School. All will be celebrating Catholic Schools Week from Jan. 29-Feb. 2.
At St. Mary’s Central High School, the Assistant Chaplains lead most of the activities. During the ROCK (Reaching Out to Christ’s Kingdom) on Tuesday of that week, there will be a speaker, followed by adoration and confession. On Wednesday, St. Mary’s Central High School will host the State Your Faith Competition for Catholic High Schools in North Dakota. On Thursday, the students will attend Mass with Bishop David D. Kagan. Parents are always welcome to attend All-School Masses. On Friday, the celebration will conclude with the school talent show in the morning, followed by a movie and noon dismissal.
For Fr. Jacob Magnuson, chaplain at St. Mary’s Central High School, the celebration of Catholic Schools Week is one of his favorite times at the school.
“It is important to celebrate our Catholic faith and that we have a unique mission,” he says. “We try to grow closer to Christ in all we do, whether it’s in education, sports, choir, or theater. So the week highlights that, and the fact that the Christian life is fun! We show it is enjoyable and God wants our time to be one of joy with Him. So, we mix religious events and fun things to do.”
If parents are considering sending their children to Catholic school, Fr. Magnuson offers sound reasons.
“Catholic school cares about the whole person,” he says. “It’s not just about memorizing the truths of the faith, but it creates the desire to know the truth who is Jesus Himself, so the students will grow closer to Christ. We offer Mass, the sacraments, adoration, and we help students grow closer to Christ and develop their own spiritual life in the context of the faith as they enter the years before they go off to college.”
The students at St. Mary’s Grade School can look forward to a whole week of fun that lets them celebrate their faith.
“Each day is something fun,” says Valerie Kuntz, Principal. “We have jump rope, bowling, or Bingo, a talent show, and we work on projects with our Buddy classes. Last year we had a coin competition with the funds gathered donated to the pregnancy center in Bismarck. We write letters to our families to show appreciation about getting a Catholic education and the importance of incorporating our faith into our lives.”
During the week the students are able to see how they are able to incorporate their faith into their daily classes.
“We help them recognize they are given an opportunity others don’t have, while having fun as well,” Mrs. Kuntz says.
Mrs. Kuntz also emphasizes the benefits of sending our children to Catholic school.
“A lot of it is community,” she says. “It takes a village to raise a family, especially in our culture. You know your kids are with others who share your values and we support friendships as they grow. It’s like a small-town feeling within the city. Students can continue to grow in the mission God has given them. That families can know they are with others with similar values, is huge.”
At St. Anne School, the Catholic Schools Week celebration traditionally focuses on three themes.
“One is Family, one is Vocations and the third is Service,” says Jessica Pathroff, Principal. “With those three themes, we have activities around them.”
For the Family portion, parents are invited in to enjoy donuts, followed by the celebration of Mass with the students.
“We also focus on our school family, with our grade-level Buddies,” Mrs. Pathroff says. “For example, the kindergarten students have an activity with the fifth grade, such as a craft.”
Under the Vocations theme, a major focus for the week, there will be in-school retreats centered on many different areas of our Catholic faith.
“Last year we had Mother Mary Joseph visit and she brought several women who talked about their vocation as Sisters,” Mrs. Pathroff says. “They met with each student. This year, we’re having our parish priests come in for talks about prayer. They will talk with each grade level about how to pray. They also will talk about the importance of vocations and how they were called.”
During the week, the school will also hold the Know Your Faith competition.
“This is a big celebration of who knows the most about the Catholic faith,” Mrs. Pathroff says.
Through the theme of Service, the students will continue the longstanding tradition of collecting items for the Backpacks for Kids program.
“They collect clothing, hats, canned goods each week,” Mrs. Pathroff says. “The items are donated at the end of the week. We’ve been doing it at St. Anne’s for 32 years.”
The three themes followed during Catholic Schools Week are practiced all through the school year at St. Anne, but they are given particular emphasis during this special week.
“We celebrate how blessed we are at Catholic school, where we can talk about our faith and we can celebrate our Catholicism and how we can serve others, and how we can be called to a vocation,” Mrs. Pathroff says.
For Mrs. Pathroff, a Catholic school student herself, Catholic Schools Week has given root to many wonderful memories.
“I recall each week when I was a student, and now as an administrator, I wanted it to be a special week,” she says. “We talk about God, and as an administrator it is so beautiful to see it each day. We are very focused on our faith and how to be a better Catholic and people in this world.”
For more information about enrolling your child in the Light of Christ Schools, contact Shannon Indovina, Executive Assistant at Light of Christ, at 701-354-7067.